Coach has the right Rx

The Brooklyn Paper
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It was loud, it was intense and it was R-rated. And no, it wasn’t the latest action flick playing down Flatbush Avenue at the Kings Plaza multiplex.

It was John Infortunio’s halftime tirade — and exactly what the Bishop Ford boys basketball team needed to awake from a sluggish first half Saturday night.

The Falcons stepped up the defensive intensity in the second half, rallying from a seven-point halftime deficit to defeat Bayside, 55-43, at the Aviator Winter Clash in Brooklyn.

“We play for him and he was really upset with us at the end of the first half,” senior guard Naquan Ellerbe said of the Falcons fourth-year coach. “We wanted to build our heart up in the third and fourth quarter and we came out and showed everyone what we can do.”

Infortunio called his team “Jekyll and Hyde,” but the inconsistency wasn’t limited to the first 16 minutes of their meeting against the Commodores.

“I’m growing tired this season of these slow starts and this malaise on defense,” he said. “It takes away everything we work on in practice. That’s why we have our peace summit behind the curtain.”

In actuality, there was little “peace” at halftime. Infortunio went on a rampage and called out some of his team’s underachieving players.

“We just didn’t play at all,” he said. “We changed offenses and defenses a bit and they were just nonresponsive. I was just really challenging.”

Led by Tyrell Okoro (12 points), William Dobie (nine points) and Austin Williams and Uzonna Akazi, who scored eight points apiece, Bayside (1-5 PSAL Queens AA) led by as many as 12 in the first half.

But Bishop Ford (6-4) responded after halftime. The Falcons pressed, trapped and crashed the boards, tying the game at 38 heading into the fourth quarter on Ellerbe’s baseline layup.

“I knew my team needed the extra push to get the win so I had to dig deep,” Ellerbe said.

The senior guard heated up late from the perimeter, knocking down three consecutive 3-pointers, the last capping a 17-2 run to put Ford in front, 55-40, with 1:46 left in the game.

“I was very proud of him,” said senior guard Justyn McMichael. “He’s a real good shooter so we just kept giving him the ball because he was the hot man for us today.”

Added Infortunio: “That one at the end I think was really the dagger in the heart.”

Ellerbe finished with a game-high 15 points, McMichael had 14 points and seven rebounds and Matthew Hall added 10 points and eight boards for the Falcons.

“Our coaches just told us to put pressure on the ball and that’s what we did,” McMichael said of Infortunio’s message at halftime. “We fought hard and it wasn’t easy. I’m just glad we got the ‘W.’”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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