St. Albans’ Pathways heads to Class B finals

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When top-seeded Pathways Prep of St. Albans was turning its PSAL Class B semifinal contest into a rout, ripping off a 19-6 run to create a canyon-sized 19-point lead, Jordan Washington was a key contributor.

But there were others. That’s what made Sunday’s 68-59 win over No. 5 Health Professions of Manhattan in the basketball semis at CCNY so impressive.

Sure, the highly recruited 6-foot-7 Washington was his usual dominant self, with 20 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. There were also guards Sam Annorh Jr. (13 points, nine assists) and Izaha Jackson (13 points, six assists) as well as forward Romario Fletcher (14 points) making an impact on the contest as well.

After Washington fouled out, Health Professions (17-3) got within eight behind the splendid play of senior Gelvis Solano — he poured in a game-high 32 points — but his teammates remain composed. Annorh completed a traditional three-point play and Jackson sank two free throws to ice the win.

Pathways (22-4) was Washington’s team last year as it won its first city title of any kind. When he was lost for a month due to academics — he was eligible by PSAL standards but Pathways principal Kimberly Mitchell instituted a new rule for student-athletes barring them from failing a single class — the Trailblazers hardly lost a beat. That’s because Annorh, Jackson and Fletcher emerged, combining to fill the massive void left by Washington.

“Not many people thought we could play without Jordan and we proved it,” Annorh said. “When he came back, it boosted us up. When we were without him, we had to rely on shooting and transition. Now we can beat teams in many different ways.”

Health Professions Coach James Castillo was in fact most impressed by Pathways’ guards. The Trailblazers’ newfound balance figures to help them Sunday against Newcomers and in the state Federation in Albany if they get that far.

“It helps because everybody can’t focus on me anymore,” said Washington, who has a host of Division I schools after him, such as Louisville, Villanova, Miami, Arizona and Marquette. “It’s a lot different. Everybody on the team is scoring.”

Not to be forgotten, the 6-foot-2 Solano put on a show. He dropped in four three-pointers from well-beyond the arc, he finished above the rim, made plays for teammates and even pulled down 15 rebounds.

“That’s the best player we’ve seen all year,” Peaks raved. “That’s an ‘AA’ player. He can play for anybody in New York City.”

When told he may have waited too long to take over, Solano deflected criticism from his teammates.

“It was a team thing,” he said. “We should have all picked up for each other. It’s a tough feeling, but I’m proud of my team. Nobody expected us to go this far.”

No. 3 Newcomers 59, No. 7 WHEELS 50: Cristian Zapata had 29 points and 12 rebounds and Larry Baez added 17 points for undefeated Newcomers, the Queens B West champion which will meet No. 1 Pathways in the ‘B’ final Sunday at 1 p.m. at CCNY in Harlem.

Tyshawn Myles had 16 points and 14 rebounds and Eulogio Medina had 15 points, five rebounds and four assists for WHEELS (22-3), which completes its first varsity season.

Posted 12:57 am, March 15, 2012
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