As dominant as Shamorie Ponds was against the Railsplitters, even he needed a little help to finally put Abraham Lincoln away.
The Thomas Jefferson guard was sensational, scoring a game-high 36 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists. He also put his team immediately back ahead after Lincoln took its only two leads of the game.
Still Lincoln was still within six points with two minutes remaining. Jefferson turned the ball over twice and Ponds missed a jumper on the next possession. Rasheem Dunn was there to rescue the Orange Wave. He soared between two defenders for the rebound and put it back for the basket and the foul.
“That was the play of the game,” said Jefferson coach Lawrence “Bud” Pollard. “We never looked back after that.”
The Orange Wave followed with a run to close out a 98–86 victory over rival and visiting Lincoln in Public School Athletic League Brooklyn AA boys’ basketball on Dec. 18. Dunn scored 15 points and Jaquan McKennon added 13 points and 10 assists in a victory that moved undefeated Jefferson (6–0) into sole possession of first place.
“This game is very important,” Dunn said. “They are our rivals. We go back and forth with them.”
Ponds certainly treated the contest that way. The star junior did everything in his power to make sure it didn’t get away after Lincoln (6–1) went on a 21–3 run to erase a 17-point third-quarter deficit. The Railsplitters briefly grabbed a 59–58 lead on three-pointer by freshman Tyler Bourne with 45 seconds left in the third quarter, but it didn’t last long.
Ponds scored five points in three seconds. He drained a three-pointer, stole the ensuing inbounds pass and laid it in to put Jefferson up 63–59 with 36 ticks remaining in the frame. Ponds feels very comfortable imposing his will on games.
“I was just trying to match their intensity,” Ponds said. “Their crowd was into it and our crowd was into it.”
Lincoln again took a one-point lead on a three-pointer early in the fourth by Bourne, who had 13 points. Ponds immediately answered with a three-point play that ignited an 8–0 Jefferson run to increase its lead to 73–65. Railsplitters coach Kenny Pretlow was happy with his young team’s fight, but knows that it will have to do a better job containing Ponds in future meetings.
“Kidnap him, don’t let him get to the game.” Pretlow said jokingly of his revised strategy. “He’s the best player in the city right now.”
Junior forward Jahlil Tripp led Lincoln with 24 points and freshman Paul Person added 13. The Railsplitters, who missed 15 free throws, dug a 10–2 hole from the start as Jefferson connected on three of its seven three-pointers in the game’s first 1:30. It left Lincoln constantly playing catch up.
“We thought we had them at one point, and then they comeback and score,” Tripp said. “It was a game of runs and they went on a run and we couldn’t close the gap.”
The Orange Wave has won the debate on who is Brooklyn’s premier program — for now, and it is one of the early city-title favorites. But Pollard said all this game proved was that his club is tough to beat on its home floor. He knows things won’t be easier against Lincoln in Coney Island on Feb. 6 to close out the season.
“We have always been tough on out home court,” Pollard said. “We go there they are going to be better.”