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Andree’s no giant: DeLeon has to battle down low for undersized Lewis

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"She never complains," coach Mike Eisenberg said. "If every girl was Andree, life as a coach would be very easy."Maybe it's because DeLeon is no stranger to getting hurt. In the summer of 2006, the Flushing native and her AAU team, the NYC Heat, were playing at a tournament at Villanova University in Philadelphia. She and her teammates were goofing around in the lobby, one girl playfully stole her cellphone and DeLeon took off after her. Midway through the faux chase, DeLeon ran right through a plate glass window.She was rushed to the hospital as her parents, Joy and Romel DeLeon, raced down the Jersey Turnpike thinking the worst. As it turned out, DeLeon got lucky. She hit the window with her lower body and needed 30 stitches in her right knee and eight more in her right arm. But it could have been much more serious."It was a matter of life and death if that glass fell on her head," Romel DeLeon said.After that incident, Joy didn't want her to play basketball anymore. Her parents would not let her travel with the Heat this past summer, though she has continued to play for Francis Lewis."I had to be careful, because [the cuts] could have slid open at any moment," DeLeon said.But now all that's left from the accident is a nasty battle scar on her knee and a smaller one on her arm. Her parents plan on easing up on the travel restrictions, because they think she could play basketball on the college level."She just loves basketball," Romel DeLeon said. "We're gonna support her."It would be hard not to. DeLeon is averaging 16.5 points and seven rebounds a game for the Patriots, who look poised to win the Queens AA title. She scored 20 in Lewis' 60-53 victory over Grand Street Campus Friday in Brooklyn.All the while, of course, she's been playing against girls five and six inches taller. Romel thinks she needs to improve her conditioning, but she uses her quickness well against bigger players."When I was a freshman, I was intimidated," DeLeon said.Not anymore. It certainly helped playing in practice her first year against Lewis' big post players, like 6-foot Vionca Murray, who is now at Syracuse. That and, as Eisenberg said, DeLeon is incredibly coachable.She might not run through a wall for him. But a glass window is another story."She never complains," senior point guard Sylvia Davis said. "She's tough. This will only make her better."Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at mraimondi@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

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