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Cardozo too big in Battle of Bayside victory

The battles between the Cardozo and Bayside boys’ basketball teams are legendary in Queens. The two schools are separated by less than three miles and both are traditionally two of the top teams in the borough. The Judges have gotten the better of the Commodores lately, but no matter what the teams’ records are, there’s always intensity.

“It’s a crowd of 240, but it sounds like 2,400 in here,” Cardozo Coach Ron Naclerio said of Bayside’s gym. “We might be able to win by 15 or 20, but it’s gonna be a war.”

Last Thursday night was no different. Cardozo pulled away in the second half to beat Bayside 68−46 in front of a raucous, standing−room only crowd in PSAL Queens AA action. The Judges were only up 31−24 at halftime, but they used a 20−4 third quarter to topple their rivals.

Cardozo (5−0 Queens AA) was actually led by the son of a Bayside graduate. The mother of Ryan Rhoomes, the Judges’ athletic 6−foot−8 transfer, attended the school. Rhoomes had 26 points, including 12 in the first quarter. It was clear from the outset that the big man wanted to make an immediate impact.

“I was pretty psyched,” he said with a smile.

On the back of Rhoomes’ putbacks and baskets in transition, Cardozo took a 17−3 lead to start the game. But Bayside (3−3) — keeping true to the grudge match — made a run. The Commodores got within 24−20 on a basket by Davon Brown with 1:36 left in the first half.

“We missed a couple of free throws, then all of a sudden, it was like, uh−oh,” Naclerio said.

Bayside got back into the game, because Cardozo got away from what made it so successful to start the game: getting the ball inside to its superior big men. Rhoomes, 6−foot−6 junior Dwayne Brunson and 6−foot−8 junior Kregg Jones make up one of the biggest and deepest front lines in the city.

But all three are also new to Cardozo. Rhoomes transferred from Lincoln by way of upstate Middletown HS, Brunson was playing in only his third game after academic ineligibility and a team suspension and Jones is a transfer from Barbados.

“The young kids don’t realize what we have now,” Naclerio said.

The Judges went inside early and often in the second half. Rhoomes had the first basket, in the paint, after halftime and Brunson scored six of his 10 points in the third quarter, all on mid−range jumpers. An improved Reynaldo “Junior” Walters led Cardozo on the perimeter with 12 points.

“All three of our big men are special,” the junior said. “[The coaches] want us to work the ball inside and play inside−outside.”

Bayside didn’t have an answer for Cardozo’s inside presence. Davon Brown led the Commodores with 22 points. The Judges will get right back at it Friday for a first−place battle with Thomas Edison. The delicate balance between its talent in the post and on the perimeter, it seems, will be the storyline for Cardozo the rest of the season.

“I have six guards I love,” Naclerio said. “But sometimes they play like little babies.”

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