What a hoops season it was in Brooklyn!
Three teams took home city titles, but no story was more compelling than Jefferson winning the Public School Athletic League Class AA crown for the first time in 62 years. The Orange Wave and coach Lawerence “Bud” Pollard cruised past rival Abraham Lincoln in the title game before going to Albany to win the program’s first state Federation title.
While Jefferson came into the year as title contender, Xaverian surprised everyone but themselves by beating favored Bishop Loughlin for its first CHSAA Intersectional championship since 2005.
Telecommunication sent retiring coach Chris Weil out with the first PSAL Class A crown in school history. Poly Prep went back to the private school Class B state title game before losing to Collegiate.
You needed plenty of good players to win all these championships. Here are the best of the best:
Shamorie Ponds, Jefferson: The St. John’s-bound guard lived up to all of the hype and expectations and even exceeded them at times. The back-to-back winner averaged 28 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while understanding how to dominate games on both ends of the floor. Ponds won most valuable player honors at the Federation tournament after scoring a game-high 31 points, grabbing 12 rebounds, dishing out five assists and collecting six steals in the city title game.
Jack Alesi, Xaverian: Alesi, who took home this award last year, led a team that never cease to amaze, especially this year. The Clippers finished fourth in their division and lost in the diocesan semifinals. Somehow Alesi was able to get his kids to dig a little deeper when it mattered most and he put them in position to succeed. Gritty Xaverian gutted its way to its first city title since 2005 by being mentally tougher than everyone else in a tight game late.
Forward Cahiem Brown, Abraham Lincoln: The St. Ray’s transfer became Lincoln’s unquestioned leader once Jahlil Tripp was ruled ineligible. His consistent play spearheaded the Railsplitters’s second-half rebirth and a Brooklyn borough title thanks to a 30-point night. Brown averaged 19 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.
Guard Rasheem Dunn, Jefferson: Dunn was the perfect Robin to Shamorie Ponds’s Batman. The St. Francis College-bound guard was tenacious on both ends of the floor and averaged 16 points, five assists, and four rebounds per game. He had 23 points during a big first half in the city title game and dropped in 21 points in the Federation final.
Guard Markquis Nowell, Bishop Loughlin: The St. Anthony’s (N.J.) transfer made quite an impression in his very first season in New York City, where he wowed with his game and his heart. The sophomore averaged 18.1 points and 6.9 assists per contest while helping the Lions get to and win the Brooklyn-Queens title — and reach the Intersectional final.
Forward Keith Williams, Bishop Loughlin: Williams did a little bit of everything for the Lions during his junior season. He could knock down a three, bury a step-back jumper, or take it to the hoop. The three-year varsity player had his best season, averaging 16 points and 7.4 rebounds per game to become one of the city’s best all-around players.
Foward Nyontay Wisseh, Xaverian: The senior wing took his game and his team to another level in the post season. Wisseh willed the Clippers through an Intersectional semifinal win over Archbishop Molloy with clutch plays on both ends of the floor. He averaged 14.8 points per game, nine rebounds, four assists, and four steals.
Guard Zach Bruno, Xaverian: The junior took the most important charge in program history to seal the city title in the game’s closing seconds. He was one of the city’s most explosive players, and he led the Clippers with 15.7 points per game and netted 20 points or more in nine contests.
Guard Rakym Felder, Abraham Lincoln: Lincoln began to soar as Felder got more accustomed to playing point guard. Felder used his speed to average 16.3 points, five assists, and four rebounds during the regular season. He was also a lock-down defender, often guarding the opponent’s star.
Guard Gianni Ford, Boys & Girls: It was an up-and-down year for the Kangaroos, but not for its senior star. Ford again proved why he is one of the best players in the city. He averaged 18.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assist during the regular season — and poured in 25 points per contest in the playoffs.
Center Isaac Kante, Paul Robeson: Few big men are as imposing on both ends of the floor than shot-blocker Kante. The senior dropped in 15.5 points and grabbed 12.6 rebounds per game to help lead the Eagles back to prominence this season.
Guard Curtis Smith, Jefferson: Big Shot C.J. hit plenty of shots this year, but no performance was better than his nine three-pointers and 30 points in a quarterfinal win over Curtis. Smith, who can change a game quickly, averaged 11.7 points per game.
Forward Gerald Williams, George Westinghouse: Westinghouse enjoyed the best season in program history – including a trip to the semifinals — and Williams was a big reason why. The senior averaged 13.5 points and nine rebounds per contest.
• Guard Donald Cannon Flores, Abraham Lincoln
• Guard Devin Ballour, Telecommunications
• Forward Israel Farrington, Paul Robeson
• Guard Brandon Leftwich, Xaverian
• Forward Damarri Moore, George Westinghouse
• Guard Anthony Munson, Bedford Academy
• Guard Shaquille Ricks, South Shore
• Guard Malick Sylla, Transit Tech
• Forward Najee Taylor, Poly Prep
• Guard Jordan Williams, St. Edmund