Brooklyn guide to public school hoops playoffs

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The Public School Athletic League’s basketball postseason is on the horizon and Brooklyn will be a major player on both the boys’ and girls’ sides.

Here are the top five things to keep in mind as things get started:

• Lincoln and Jefferson aren’t done yet: The boys’ basketball rivals have played two of the year’s most memorable games in front of capacity crowds in Brownsville and Coney Island. Each team defended its home court and the rubber match shouldn’t be far off. The squads are favored to meet again in the Brooklyn borough final this Saturday at Queens College with bragging rights and potentially the top seed in the citywide playoffs on the line.

The atmosphere, which compares to the old Lincoln-Boys and Girls rivalry, may not be the same in a game played outside of Kings County, but the stakes will be higher. The only way it gets bigger is if the two squads meet in the semifinals or for the city title in March. That won’t be easy on anyone’s hearts.

• Boys and Girls remains the sleeper: The Kangaroos program is proud, but got off to a slow start. Much of January was disjointed for the boys’ basketball team as work was being done on its home court, causing three games to be postponed. Coach Ruth Lovelace’s crew responded well. Boys and Girls, led by explosive point guard Gianni Ford, won five of its last six games. Its only loss was 98–82 to Jefferson in a game it was in until the fourth quarter.

• There’s a big opportunity for South Shore: I’ve been a big proponent of the Vikings girls’ hoops team over the years, but there has been no better chance to win the program’s first city title than this season. South Shore is again the No. 1 seed, but had one of its best regular seasons.

Its lone league loss was to defending city champions Francis Lewis back on Dec. 12. The No. 4 Patriots could be South Shore’s semifinal opponent, but they struggled in the season’s closing week. Beating the likes of Murry Bergtraum or Grand Street won’t be easy, but South Shore is armed with McDonald’s All-American Brianna Fraser, and senior guard Amand Cruz has really come into her own.

• Don’t let Grand Street sneak up on you: The Wolves’ girls’ basketball team is having one of the best seasons in program history. It won its division title and closed the regular season with wins over Francis Lewis and Midwood. Grand Street has not a lost a league game since Dec. 8. It fell to South Shore and Bergtraum by a combined 15 points. If junior forward Shanique Edward and the Wolves aren’t dangerous, I don’t know who is.

• Williams, Moore are ones to watch: George Westinghouse forward Gerald Williams isn’t on one of the borough’s power teams, but he’s had as good a year as any player, averaging 17.8 points per game and 12.1 rebounds. The same came be said for Midwood girls’ hoops star Jai Moore. The junior is scoring 15. 3 points per game and grabbing 3.9 boards per contest for the No. 6-seeded Hornets.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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