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John Bowne, Van Buren meet, guarantee boro team in final

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And somewhere behind those teams - maybe fourth and fifth - would be John Bowne and McClain's Martin Van Buren team. Or so the coach thought.The top two teams in Queens A which only had one loss apiece - to each other - would actually be seeded sixth and seventh. John Bowne was No. 6, courtesy of a late-season win over Van Buren.Well, the two squads have more than proven their worth thus far. They both won games against higher seeded teams in the city quarterfinals and will play each other - for the third time this season - Saturday in the semifinals at Hunter College at 11 a.m."The good thing about it is one of us will represent Queens in the finals," McClain said.No Queens team has done that in the 'A' girls' championship game since Van Buren in 2004. But the Vee Bees haven't won a city championship in over 50 years and John Bowne has never won one at all.Before they can start thinking about history, though, they have to focus on each other. The two teams are extremely familiar with each other. Van Buren won the first meeting and Bowne took the second this season. McClain says he and Wildcats coach Bruce Bitterman have been friendly rivals for 15 years, even when they were in different divisions. The teams' star players, Janisha (Brittany) Mitchell of Bowne and Van Buren's Kamesha Lambright, are close companions."It's gonna be a close game," McClain said. "It's gonna be a real exciting game to watch. Unfortunately, I'll be in it and I won't be able to watch it."The Wildcats and Vee Bees are very different teams. Van Buren has the size; Bowne has the experience. The Wildcats have better guards, but the Vee Bees can punish teams down low. Lambright, who scored 20 points and had 22 rebounds in Van Buren's quarterfinal win over No. 2 Food and Finance is a major key."I told her, 'The only person that can defend you is you. There can't be a mirror on the floor so you can see yourself,'" McClain said. "'You have to go out there and believe you're the most dominant player on the floor.'"Lambright's pal Mitchell is a difference maker for Bowne. She had 14 points in the Wildcats' quarterfinal win against No. 3 Medgar Evers Prep.On Saturday, these friends will renew an old rivalry.Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at mraimondi@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

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