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Marquis Barnett set the tone early and it had nothing to do with putting the ball in the basket.
Cardozo’s 6-foot-8 senior forward had three blocks in the first few minutes of the game, sending two Collegiate shots against the gym’s back wall. Barnett looked more like a hitter on the Judges’ three-time defending PSAL champion boys’ volleyball team. And after that the Dutchmen were extremely hesitant to go inside, not scoring their first basket until more than midway through the first quarter.
“They didn’t want to get embarrassed,” Barnett said with a laugh.
Barnett finished the game with 18 rebounds and six blocks, but Collegiate kept things respectable in Cardozo’s 53-41 win Sunday at the New Heights Holiday Hoops Festival at the Harlem PAL. The Judges, ranked seventh in New York City by the New York Post, looked a bit overconfident against the ‘B’ private school basketball team after throttling Bishop Loughlin 71-41 last Thursday.
“We thought we were gonna walk on them,” Barnett said.
Instead, Collegiate (4-3) actually cut the Cardozo (7-0) lead to just 36-28 with 45 seconds left in the third quarter on back-to-back three-pointers by Ryan Frankel and Jonathan Bakst. The Judges got a little holiday present on their last possession of the third when senior point guard Chris Gayot pulled up from the free-throw line and banked in jumper to give his team a double-digit lead heading into the fourth.
“Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good,” Cardozo Coach Ron Naclerio said.
Cardozo then started the fourth quarter on an 8-2 run. Barnett had a big block of Collegiate junior forward Connor Huff (13 points) and then dropped in a putback on the other end during the stretch to give his team a 42-28 lead with 5:45 remaining. He finished with just four points, but his presence was felt throughout.
“He gets every rebound,” Naclerio said. “I love that kid. He does so much for us. If basketball was like football with offense and defense, Marquis Barnett would be a first team all-city kid on defense.”
Barnett has also overcome some personal troubles to earn the team’s best grade-point average (86.8). He was awarded Cardozo’s scholar-athlete award after the game. After his GPA, the only numbers he cares about are rebounds and blocks, though.
“I take a lot of pride in my defense,” Barnett said. “All the time, that’s my mindset — defense first, then offense.”
Senior guard Shelton Mickell had 17 points, precocious sophomore forward Jermaine Lawrence had 11 points and Gayot added nine. Frankel had 11 for Collegiate, the two-time defending New York State Federation Class B champions.
Naclerio thought his team could have performed better, thought it could have ran more and executed better on offense. He told the players afterward that they could not live on that Loughlin victory for too long.
“We’re still a learning team, still a growing team,” Naclerio said. “What they have to realize is that each step they take is in the past. You’re only as good as the game you played today.”
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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