Kill shot: Bronx beats Brooklyn in handball tourney

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The streak is over.

Team Brooklyn lost the annual handball tournament against the Bronx for the first time in history on Jan. 24.

The underdog Boogie Down eked out a win in the Johnny Ray Memorial Tournament at Gravesend’s MatchPoint NYC, winning 21–19 in the final round of the five-match game.

Borough President Adams and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., captained the rival teams, and the mud-slinging started long before the squads took to the court — and persisted well after the walls fell silent.

“I am accusing Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., of giving his team an under-inflated ball. #Wallballgate demands justice,” Adams said, before eventually congratulating his cross-town rivals.

Both captains left before the third game started, leaving the teams leaderless for much of the barn burner. The beep took off for a personal event, a spokesman said.

Team Brooklyn lost for the first time since the tournament’s inception in 2011. The mainland borough’s last-minute win even surprised the organizer, she said.

“They were the underdog,” said Jasmine Ray, president of the U.S. Wallball Association. “They won through sheer willpower. The players on Team Brooklyn had 10 years of experience on them.”

Tournament organizers assembled teams from top-ranked players in the U.S. Wallball Association, Ray said. The tournament commemorates Ray’s brother Jonathan, who died in a 2009 car crash at age 16.

Wallball is the common name for the more street-friendly version of the formal sport of handball. The schoolyard game is popular citywide for its simplicity, accessibility, and intensity, game-goers said.

Like raquetball, a serving team and a returning team trade volleys against a wall until one side commits an error, such as letting the ball bounce twice on the floor or fly out of bounds. When the receiving team errs, the servers earn a point, but when the servers drop the ball, the opposing team gets to serve. Matches go to 21 points, and games are decided best of five.

Saturday’s game was actually the association’s delayed 2014 tournament, and Kings County will have a chance to regain its crown at the 2015 match-up in the Bronx this October, Ray said.

Adams plans to hold a Borough-wide handball tournament in neighborhood parks this year, he said.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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