The Railsplitters boys’ basketball team may not have a traditional star player this season, but it showed that it is still one of the top teams in the city.
That was evident in a balanced attack leading the Coney Island school to a 78–52 victory over Catholic High School Athletic Association stalwart St. Raymond in the Apparel Challenge last Sunday at Christ the King. The four-game event pitted teams sponsored by Nike against teams sponsored by Under Armour.
“There’s not a star player on our team, but everybody makes the whole team,” said senior Ezekiel Charles, who led the team with 22 points. “That’s why we’re hard to beat. You don’t know what game somebody may be clicking, but the team is always clicking as a whole.”
Lincoln wasted no time taking control of the game, coming out to an early 16–4 lead thanks to six points apiece from Charles and junior Jahlil Tripp. Freshman Paul Person also added six points in the first quarter for the Railsplitters, who led 22–8 at the end of the frame. Lincoln coach Kenny Pretlow sees the depth of his team as an advantage.
“I got willing passers. I got five stars. I got five kids who are averaging double figures,” Pretlow said. “All of them are playing the way I want. I tell them that when five guys are a threat, it’s very hard to defend.”
The Railsplitters (12–2) continued their success early in the second quarter with an 11–0 run, led by five points by freshman Tyler Bourne, who finished with 18 points, to push ahead 33–10 with 5:00 left before the break. Person, who finished with 14 points, said he and Bourne are out to show people that they are ready to compete with anyone in the city.
“I think since we’re freshmen, some people think we’re not going to play well,” Person said. “Me and Tyler work hard together in practice and play hard. Every game we’re going out to make a statement.”
After the Lincoln run, the team didn’t score for the rest of the half, but it was able to hold the Ravens (7–4) to eight points over the final five minutes and bring a 33–18 lead into the break. Pretlow told his team during halftime to continue defending and it will lead to offense.
“Our coach told us we need to make shots,” Charles said. “If we lock down on D the offense will come.”
The Lincoln coach was correct, as the Railsplitters outscored St. Raymond 24–18 in the third quarter, which included a 12–2 run to end the frame. It pushed the Railsplitters’ lead to 57–36 at the end of three.
Lincoln came out and showed that it has many weapons with which to take over a game and make it difficult for the opponent to defend. When the offense ran dry, the Railsplitters turned to defense, which the coach thinks will bring Lincoln to the top of the Public School Athletic League.
“We get up and defend — we’re right on your shirt,” Pretlow said. “We’re denying you, I told them we can win a championship by defending.”