Thomas Jefferson wants to climb to the top of the Public School Athletic League. To do so, it needs to use its defeat by Long Island Lutheran, one of the state’s best programs, as a moment for growth.
The Orange Wave boys’ basketball team wasn’t sharp in a 75–62 loss to the private-school power as part of the Apparel Classic at Christ the King last Saturday. Jefferson couldn’t overcome an off night from star Shamorie Ponds (16 points) and a LuHi team that outran the usually quicker Orange Wave squad.
“They were better than us today,” said Jefferson coach Lawrence “Bud” Pollard. “We sucked today. They were better coached, better prepared. Effort was better. Everything was better. We just got our butts kicked all the way around.”
This is the perfect time for Jefferson (15–2) to reflect on where the team is and what it needs to do to get where it wants to go. The Orange Wave is in the driver’s seat for the Brooklyn AA division title and potential as a No. 1 seed in the upcoming playoffs.
Even during that success it has relied heavily on Ponds, who has garnered scholarship offers from USC, Minnesota, and St. John’s during his breakout season. The junior guard has played at an exceptional level, and was a formidable combination with Jacquan McKennon in the backcourt.
Ponds scored just three points in a first half marred by foul trouble, and Jefferson trailed LuHi 35–24 at the break. McKennon (14 points) did his best to spark his team, and Rasheen Dunn had eight points.
Still, scoring needs to come elsewhere when Ponds is having an off night, much like what Christ the King showed in the nightcap with Rawle Alkins struggling.
LuHi (10–1), on the other hand, had three players in double digits, with Devonte Green and Chris Atkinson leading the way with 22 and 20 points apiece respectively.
The margin for error against teams as deep and as athletic as Long Island Lutheran is so small. The same is true the deeper you get into the Public School Athletic League playoffs.
“We aren’t used to losing, but you have to lose to win games,” McKennon said.
Jefferson struggled to attack the rim like it is used to. LuHi stepped in front of drivers and took charges. Others were met by the long, out stretched arms of 6-foot-9 forward Jose Martinez.
“Size played a big factor,” Ponds said.
It was just one of the causes of Jefferson’s defeat. While you want to keep loses to a minimum, they can be healthy and beneficial during the course of season. The lopsided defeat to Long Island Lutheran certainly can be a teachable moment for the Orange Wave.
“We live and learn,” McKennon said. “We are going to the lab to get better. That’s all we can do is get better.”