Basketball hasn’t been at the forefront of Paul Robeson players’ minds since teammate Rikky Degale’s shocking stroke.
But the team fended off a potential losing streak after rallying a 67–53 victory over South Shore on Jan. 15 — and it was all for Degale, one player said.
“Our prayers are with him — he is always in our heart,” said junior guard Keith Swinton. “We are playing for him. As soon as our friend gets better, we would like to bring the championship trophy to him.”
Degale played in the team’s loss at Benjamin Cardozo on Jan. 10 before the stroke. The group played with heavy hearts after visiting their teammate in the hospital on Jan. 12, only to lose to last-place Bedford Academy. And Robeson players, determined not to lose three straight, still had reserve junior guard Degale on their minds when they hosted South Shore on Jan. 15.
Robeson is a team that can compose itself and finish off a sloppy game strong.
“In the fourth quarter, they played their behinds off,” Myles said. “For three quarters they were in mud.”
The Eagles’ offense was unstoppable in the final eight minutes of play. Robeson (7–3) outscored the Vikings 20–9 in the quarter, which included a 17–0 run.
And the squad put the defensive pressure on South Shore, staving off any Vikings field goals until there was 2:20 left and the game was already sealed.
“This is a very important win for us, because now we are tied for second with Westinghouse,” forward Issac Konte said. “We got to beat Lincoln, Jefferson, and Brooklyn Collegiate.”
Swinton led Robeson with a game-high 22 points and 16 rebounds. Konte scored 14 points and grabbed a game-high 17 boards. Senior Ziare Mateen and junior Shevon Anisca, who scored 15 points apiece, led South Shore (4–6).
It looked like South Shore was the better team early on in the contest, because its offense started the game on fire. The Vikings went on a 13–0 run in the opening quarter. Five different players scored in the frame, and South Shore took its largest lead of the game at 19–8 with 3:42 left in the first.
Robeson took away some of the South Shore momentum and lowered the deficit to 24–19 going into the second quarter.
Neither team scored much, though, because of turnovers, and South Shore went into the half leading 33–28.
Eagles players were able to shake off their first-half struggles by locking down on defense.
Swinton scored seven points in the frame where the Eagles outscored the Vikings 19–11 and taking a 47–44 lead into the fourth quarter.
“We weren’t prepared on defense [in the first half].” he said. “Once we got the feel of their offense than we were able to put our defense into full effect.”