After three-straight appearances in the city championship game, many expected Thomas Jefferson to be back again this year — but Wings Academy had other ideas.
Fourth-seeded Wings Academy handed No. 1 Jefferson, the Brooklyn borough champions, a 83–73 season-ending loss in the Public School Athletic League Class AA boys’ basketball semifinal last Saturday at Lehman College. But it wasn’t for lack of effort from the Orange Wave, according to Jefferson coach Lawrence Pollard.
“We didn’t quit,” Pollard said. “We played down to the wire. It wasn’t our day. It wasn’t our time.”
Jefferson came out firing early in the first quarter behind the shooting of junior guard Shamorie Ponds (21 points) and junior forward Isaiah Deas (nine points). Wings Academy responded and took over the lead from the second quarter on.
In the second half, the Orange Wave tried to keep its hopes alive by staying in the game behind baskets by junior guard Rasheem Dunn (nine points), Ponds, and senior guard Jaquan McKennon (24 points). But unfortunately, foul trouble did Jefferson in as senior forward Jordan Coleson fouled out in the third quarter.
With Coleson benched, Jefferson had no answer for Georgetown-bound center Jessie Govan, who dropped in a game-high 29 points for Wings.
“We couldn’t stop him.” Ponds said. “He made every free throw. Jordan was doing a good job on him. When he fouled out, the game just changed.”
Eventually, fouls started piling up on the Orange Wave players and Wings capitalized on the free throw line. Wings shot 37-for-41 from the charity stripe.
“In the fourth quarter, when they took the lead, we just let go.” Ponds said.
After three unfulfilled trips to the championship game for the Orange Wave, falling short in the semis this year was particularly painful.
“It’s tough,” Ponds said. “We have been there the last three years. I kind of thought I was going to get back and hopefully win it. We just came up short.”
But hope springs eternal. With the nucleus of Ponds, Dunn, Deas and sophomore guard Malachi Faison, Jefferson will have a good depth at guard coming back next year and will attempt another big run in the playoffs, motivated by this season’s premature end.
“They beat us today,” Pollard said. “We will be back though. We have a nice nucleus coming back. This will definitely be motivation for us next year.”