Thomas Jefferson’s Shamorie Ponds is really living up to the nickname “Slick.”
The senior guard made key offensive and defensive plays in the final seconds of the Orange Wave’s 96–93, Brooklyn AA boys’ basketball comeback win against rival Abraham Lincoln 96–93 in front of a standing-room only crowd on Jan. 6.
The St. John’s signee snagged an inbound pass off of Lincoln’s Rakym Felder, drew a foul, scored one off the ensuing free throw, and helped teammate Curtis Smith swipe the ball from the Railsplitters’s Caheim Brown to tamp down a last-ditch fast break — all in the game’s last six seconds.
“That’s why we call him Slick, man,” said Jefferson coach Lawrence “Bud” Pollard. “If you leave that refrigerator open, he will steal every thing you have in there to snack and drink on.”
It was a huge moment in one of the season’s most hotly anticipated match-ups, Pollard said.
“Everyone has been looking at this game since the season started,” Pollard said. “Everyone was calling me about the [Jan. 9]. You couldn’t ask for more on a Saturday night. We should have charged $25.”
The Orange Wave trailed 83–76 with four minutes left when Ponds, Smith and fellow senior Rasheem Dunn led the charge back. Ponds and Dunn, who is headed to St. Francis College, scored 31 points each. The victory keeps Jefferson alone in first place and ends a five-game losing streak that included a fall to South Shore two days earlier.
“We just stepped up as leaders,” Ponds said. “We just said we had to get it going. We got to get our team a W.”
The fourth-quarter comeback started with a Ponds three-pointer and a Dunn thee-point play. Lincoln’s Tyler Bourne sunk a trey, and Smith answered with his own three to tie the score at 85 with 2:42 remaining in the contest. The Orange Wave (7–1) took the lead for good at 91–90 with 90 ticks left.
“C.J. came up big for use down the stretch,” Dunn said of Smith.
Lincoln (6–3) turned the ball over four times against Jefferson’s full-court pressure in the game’s waning moments. Its only points came on a Felder three-pointer. The senior shooting guard drew a foul but missed his free throw. Lincoln got the rebound and called time out, setting up Ponds’s steal.
Felder paced the Railsplitters with 25 points, Donald Cannon Flores scored 20 points, and Bourne chipped in 18. Lincoln, who will be without the ineligible Jahlil Tripp all season, has still made major strides after losing to George Westinghouse and Paul Robeson before the holidays.
“The first two [league] losses we had — those were bad loss,” Bourne said. “This is a good loss, because we all played together.”
Jefferson seemed happy to get a win for assistant and former Lincoln coach Kenny Pretlow, who made a rocky and unexpected exit from the Railsplitters’ program when former headman Dwayne “Tiny” Morton returned from coaching at Seton Hall and replaced his 12-season assistant and as head coach. Pollard praised Pretlow’s contributions to the Orange Wave.
“Having him is like taking [Duke’s] Mike Krzyzewski and putting him on the North Carolina bench,” Pollard said. “He’s a great asset.”
Ponds used one of his greatest assets to make sure he, Pretlow, and the rest of the Orange Wave went home happy — he knew where Felder’s intended to throw the inbound pass and didn’t miss collecting it, he said.
“I kind of knew where it was going for a little bit,” Ponds said. “He just telegraphed his pass. I read his eyes.”