Medgar Evers boys and girls 4×400-meter relay teams qualify for Millrose Games

Adrian Lewis remembers last year's Millrose Games as if it were yesterday. The Medgar Evers boys and girls 4x400-meter relay teams entered the meet with title aspirations, and each was loaded with talent. But both squads struggled, leaving with third-place finishes. "It wasn't great," Lewis said. "You know how you'll sometimes get that grudge that you just hold onto, and you really want to do better? That's how we've felt ever since." Medgar Evers began its quest for redemption on Wednesday at the Armory, competing in the Millrose Trials. And while neither the boys nor the girls won, both squads qualified for the Jan. 29 Millrose Games and served notice that they'll be serious contenders in that competition. The Lady Cougars dominated the girls 4x400 for nearly 1,200 meters before Cardozo stormed to victory behind a blistering anchor leg from Chamique Francis. And the boys team held a late lead before succumbing to Boys & Girls over the final 400 meters and finishing second. Still, Cougars coach Shaun Dietz said his squad had enjoyed an encouraging showing. "We came here and all we wanted to do was qualify," he said. "We can run even better than we did today." That's a frightening thought for Medgar Evers' opponents, especially in the girls competition. The Lady Cougars entered Wednesday's competition having run a state-best 3:55.13 at the Hispanic Games just a week earlier, and they seemed to be Millrose favorites. Defending Millrose champion Cardozo was relegated to second billing. "It was different," Francis said. "Usually, we're the favorites." The Lady Cougars ran like a favored squad from the outset, jumping to an early lead behind Rachel Leake and holding the advantage after three legs. But Francis blasted past Medgar Evers anchor Kamil Edwards and pulled away over the final 300 meters. Cardozo finished in a state-best 3:50.94, nearly four seconds faster than the Lady Cougars (3:54.35). The boys team enjoyed a similarly solid Continue Reading

Lincoln beats Jefferson, will face Boys and Girls in Garden final

Lance Stephenson likes the lights at the Garden. The Lincoln junior guard who has never missed a trip to the PSAL championship game said the lights there always excite him. "The lights just get you hyped," Stephenson said. "They make you think, you're in the Garden and you gotta play hard." That is what motivated Stephenson Tuesday night as he led the Railsplitters to a come-from-behind 75-60 win over Jefferson in the PSAL AA semifinals at St. John's. The win earned the Railsplitters their seventh straight appearance at the Garden. Lincoln will be looking for its third title in a row when it faces Boys and Girls Sunday at 1 p.m. The Railsplitters, who have won five of the last six PSAL titles, beat the Kangaroos by 27 in last year's final. But it never gets old for Stephenson or Lincoln coach Dwayne Morton, even though the Railsplitters walked off the court with little celebration last night. "I get a suit every year to go to the Garden. We are excited," Morton said. "Maybe (the players) don't look it, because we won a state title last year and they are focused on trying to do that again." Tuesday night, Lincoln had to refocus in the second quarter. Trailing by 11 after the first period, Stephenson scored 10 of his 25 points in Lincoln's 19-7 second-quarter run that put the Railsplitters ahead for good. Boys & Girls, which split league games with Lincoln, earned its second straight trip to the Garden with a 68-55 win over No. 11 Edison earlier yesterday at St.John's. Brandon Romain led Boys and Girls with 20 points. "We've been there and we know how it feels to lose there," senior guard Clayton Sterling said. "Last year we celebrated too early." Last year, Lincoln beat Boys and Girls, 77-50, in a game that was marred by brawls in the stands that spilled out into the streets, resulting in multiple arrests. This year, the Garden and the PSAL limited the number of tickets available and made the games earlier in the day to try to Continue Reading

Jefferson boys and girls both wiped out in the semis, but surf still looks good

Jefferson's boys and girls basketball teams went into last week with high hopes of securing back-to-back time slots at the Garden to play for the PSAL championships. Instead, both Orange Wave squads were sent rolling back to East New York in a span of less than 24 hours, each having been defeated in the semifinals. “Rough week for Jefferson; a rough one, big dog,” coach Lawrence Pollard said following the Lady Orange Wave’s 56-53 loss to Manhattan Center last Wednesday; just a day earlier, the boys had fallen to Lincoln, 75-60. Despite the dual defeats, the tide remains high for Jefferson’s boys and girls. Both squads expect to return key components to help lead another run next season. Without one senior on its active roster, the Lady Orange Wave will return all of its players, including leading scorer Alicia Cropper (20 points per game) and key role players including Rene Blake, Clifasia Gowins and Danielle Pearson. If Takima Lucky — who sat out most of the season due to academic ineligibility — picks it up in the classroom, the Lady Orange Wave should come back even stronger. “Takima Lucky is a great player and we’d love to have her, but Takima Lucky has to decide that this is something she wants to do,” girls co-coach Seldon Jefferson said. “Only she can decide.” The Lady Orange Wave finished atop the Brooklyn ‘AA’ Group 2 with a 14-2 record during the regular season, and rolled over Grand Street and Midwood before falling to No. 7 Manhattan Center in the semis at Hunter College. Jefferson had no answer for Lady Rams’ point guard China Crosby, who scored a game-high 26 points, and costly misses from the charity stripe washed the Wave away for good. “The first half, I think we missed about 12, 13 free throws,” said Jefferson, “so that definitely hurts any ball club.” Although Jefferson’s boys will lose dependable seniors such as Continue Reading

Boys and girls grappling with newest battle of sexes

Janel Gonzalez's reaction was one of pure joy. Moments after the 96-pounder from Lehman pinned her opponent in a PSAL wrestling match, Gonzalez, a 4-6½ spigot of energy who is also a cheerleader, cupped her hand over her mouth. "I was shocked that I really won," she said of her first win of the season, which came against Petrides' Emmanuel Bandoo on Jan. 3. "I didn't believe it at first. I was just shaking my head. I tried to go back to the bench, but I was suffocated by hugs." Such scenes of hysteria are becoming more common this winter, in what has amounted to a breakout season for girls wrestling in New York City. Approximately 40 girls from 16 PSAL schools are pulling on a singlet and taking their spot on the mats, according to data compiled in December by Mike Spanakos of the Beat the Streets program. With 15 fledgling developmental squads this season bringing the number of PSAL wrestling programs to 45, the number of girls is noticeably increasing. Some, like Gonzalez, say they were attracted to the sport's physical component. Baruch's Joann Lee, a former team manager who grew frustrated as a spectator and discovered she is a terror on the mat, wrote her college essay on her experiences as a grappler. "I'm proud to be a girl wrestling in a sport with mostly boys," she said during her team's meet at Edison on Friday. "You feel like the crowd is kind of whispering about you when you go out to wrestle, but it doesn't matter; I'm too busy focusing on what I have to do." The girls have not escaped the predictable responses from male coaches and opponents, which range from sportsmanlike and collegial to chilly and unwelcoming. Wingate's Tony Ann Nelson was supposed to compete in a tournament on Saturday at Herricks HS on Long Island, but her male opponent from Farmingdale refused to wrestle against a girl, Herricks wrestling coach and event director Cliff Forziat said. Added Farmingdale JV coach Darrin Simons: "I'm not going to push him Continue Reading

Boys and Girls senior Patrick Jackson commits to Rutgers

Boys and Girls senior Patrick Jackson committed to Rutgers yesterday, rounding out a strong recruiting class that also includes New Jersey guard Mike Rosario and Bronx product Christian Morris. The 6-5 swingman had narrowed his list of schools to Rutgers and Virginia Tech."I was just more comfortable with the players and coaches (at Rutgers)," he said. "And I'll get playing time right away. That was a factor."Loughlin seniors Kevin Phillips and James Johnson are expected to announce their decisions before today's girls Metro Classic All-Star Game at Christ the King, Phillips to play at Drexel and Johnson at Quinnipiac.Phillips, a 6-6 forward, also has drawn interest from West Virginia, Temple and UMass. Johnson, a 5-10 guard, had offers from Colgate and Boston University.Phillips, who averaged 11 points and nine rebounds last season, would join fellow city products Gerald Colds and Frank Elegar from St. Raymond's, Rob Hampton of Christ the King and Wings product Jamie Harris at Drexel."Kevin wants to get away, but not too far," said Loughlin coach Khalid Green. "He needs a coach to push him and that's what he is looking for. He's a real vocal leader and really led us on defense last year."Johnson was a sparkplug in the backcourt for the Lions a year ago, averaging 12 points and 5.5 assists per game."James is a great student and is looking for a school where he will be pushed as a basketball player and a student," Green said.Quinnipiac, located in Hamden, Conn., 85 miles from the Big Apple, also has a city influence, with St. Francis Prep products Andrew Cashin and Bryan Geffen and Cardinal Hayes' James Feldeine on the roster. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Lehman’s boys and girls bowling ready to pounce

Lehman's boys and girls bowling squads had the rest of the Bronx pinned last fall, winning their respective divisions with ease, but both suffered second-round KOs in the city-wide playoffs. Both Lions teams have a different look this season, so a few Bronx boys and girls teams believe they have what it takes to strike out the perennial powers this fall. Boys: Opponents, watch out: Lions, Wolverines set to strike Lehman coach Marcie Felicies logged onto the PSAL Web site last week, looked at the preseason rankings and laughed. Lehman, which finished 8-0 last season and hasn't lost a division game in the past three years, was ranked fourth in the Bronx. "Are we underrated there?" Felicies asked. "Absolutely." The rankings are based on returning bowlers, and Lehman, which lost its top three rollers from last season, was ranked behind Bronx Science, South Bronx and James Monroe. The Lions' top returner is senior Matt King, who averaged 154 pins per contest last season, making him the top returning bowler in Bronx II. "I wasn't too secure knowing that my best players are gone, (but) after tryouts I saw our potential," King said. "I'm excited for the challenge." Felicies' squad lost in the second round of the playoffs last season, but the coach added several baseball players to this year's roster and says that she has a winner in sophomore Brian Siegel, the younger brother of 2006 captain David Siegel. The coach also has a message for anyone who reads too much into the preseason rankings. "We'll show them in the season about being underrated," Felicies said. "And as far as the Bronx goes, I know we'll be undefeated and at the top." Evan Frankl has other ideas. The coach believes his "Bronx Science Nine" is the team to beat in the borough."I don't know about beating Lehman because we're not in the same division, but I'd like to scrimmage them," said Frankl, whose Wolverines lost in the first round of the playoffs last year.Bronx Science Continue Reading

Slain Omaha cop Kerrie Orozco devoted to kids; mourned by Boys and Girls club: ‘She was always going to be there for them’

Baseball will never be the same for a Nebraska Boys and Girls Club devastated by the death of their heroic head coach — a new mother who became a fallen cop Wednesday. But it will go on. The two dozen youngsters who spent years under the wings of Omaha Police Officer Kerrie Orozco, who they lovingly called "Coach K," will pick up their bats this summer and play the all-American game their fearless leader loved in her honor. OMAHA COP DUE TO GO ON MATERNITY LEAVE GUNNED DOWN BY WANTED FELON: POLICE "It'll be dedicated to Coach K. Our kids will represent her on the baseball field," said Abdul Muhammad, the teen director of the North Omaha Boys and Girls Club, where Orozco coached before she was gunned down Wednesday. "She would have wanted nothing more than for the kids to still be playing and learning and not forgetting who their coach was," he said. Orozco, 29, ran the club's baseball program every summer since 2009 while working full-time as a gang unit police officer because she lived for children, Muhammad said. The seven-year veteran of the force had become a new mother in February, giving premature birth to her first child, Olivia Ruth. Orozco was due to go on maternity leave and bring home her baby girl Thursday, Omaha police said. But a fleeing fugitive, Marcus D. Wheeler, cut those dreams short when he fatally shot the officer Wednesday while she was attempting to serve a warrant. Muhammad, who was the slain officer's close friend, said he "broke down" crying when an Omaha police captain called to deliver the devastating news. "I said, 'Are you talking about our Kerrie? Coach K? Who just had a baby? And all the answers were yes," an emotional Muhammad recalled. "And that's when I just lost it." Memories of the team's dozens of kids running into her arms Continue Reading

Christ the King’s boys and girls basketball teams both heading to New York State Federation Tournament in Albany

Nikki Kerr had a hard time describing the feelings the Christ the King cheerleaders had on the sidelines when the Royals’ boys and girls basketball teams both won New York State Federation championships in 2010 in Glens Falls, the only time in state history a school has accomplished that feat. Now, as the Christ the King cheerleading coach, the CK graduate and her team cancelled their previously scheduled competition at St. Francis Prep this weekend to go to Albany instead. There, the school’s girls team will play in the Federation tournament for the first time since it made history five years ago, while the boys team is looking to become the first team to ever win three consecutive Federation championships. "Our girls would rather see their school win something like state and experiencing that rather than being at a one-day competition that's solely for themselves," Kerr, a 2012 Christ the King graduate, said. "It's a completely different dynamic of just seeing both teams there and everyone being so happy for each other." The success of both teams has been the source of plenty of excitement for the Middle Village, Queens, school since the teams won CHSAA championships two weekends ago. For the boys team, getting to the Federation tournament has become an expectation. For the girls, at least this year, it's a little more of a surprise. "I told them, you bunch of misfits lost seven games but you've done it, you were able to figure it out," Christ the King girls' coach Bob Mackey said. "They've been able to put aside individual goals and play as a team, and that's really the key. Once they did, good things happened." The Christ the King girls' team will face PSAL champion South Shore and McDonald's All-American Brianna Fraser in the Friday's ‘AA’ semifinal matchup. The Royals defeated the Vikings 66-53 in January, but Mackey isn't putting any thought into that game. "I'd rather play somebody I haven't seen. Continue Reading

CARIBBEAT: Live broadcast of Jamaica’s thrilling Boys and Girls Champs coming to Queens from Team Jamaica Bickle organization

After marking its 20th anniversary last year, the Team Jamaica Bickle track and field program for Caribbean high school athletes is picking up its pace in 2015 by adding a live viewing of the exciting Jamaica Boys and Girls Championships to its agenda. The Jamaica, Queens-based TJB will show the prestigious track event, known as simply as “Champs,” in New York on March 28 at the Magnet Lounge, 241-05 Linden Blvd., in Queens, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. — one of about 40 locations around the world getting a live look at the annual gathering of Jamaica’s world-class scholastic runners, jumpers and throwers. TJB officials urge Jamaican high school graduates - who religiously follow the exploits of their respective alma maters - to bring their school colors and cheer on their team during the broadcast of Champs. Many top-flight participants in the Jamaica event, which dates back to 1910, take in Philadelphia's Penn Relays track meet every April - which attracts athletes and fans from across the U.S. and around the world. For two decades, TJB has helped visiting athletes from Jamaica and other Caribbean nations get accommodations, transportation and food they are accustomed to while at the Penn Relays. The nonprofit organization’s volunteers and sponsors are gearing up for this year’s Penn Relays in Philadelphia, April 23 through 25. The successes of Jamaican high school athletes and Olympic-caliber competitors have been followed at Penn by participants from Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas, Grenada, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other Caribbean locations. As the Penn Relays, there are TJB-sponsored Thanksgiving services, an awards reception and the big annual breakfast at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in the Bronx on April 18. For information on Team Jamaica Bickle, to make a donation and lend support, call (718) 523-2861, send email to For tickets and information on the Penn Relays, visit Continue Reading

The tools we use to fix schools: Boys and Girls High is being turned around, and so are dozens of other troubled campuses

In 1878, Brooklyn’s first public high school was founded in Bedford-Stuyvesant. There was some talk of naming it the Free Grammar School, but at that time it was still controversial to provide poor children with free secondary education, so the powers that be decided to name it the Central Grammar School. That school, now Boys and Girls High School, would go on to prove that even the poorest child can achieve great things when you connect her to a wealth of knowledge. Boys and Girls alumni include the pioneering politician Shirley Chisholm, the writer Isaac Asimov and the great singer and actress Lena Horne. But like too many of our schools, Boys and Girls lost its way. Without enough resources, vision or accountability, graduation rates tumbled. Over the past decade, Boys and Girls has been consistently named among the city’s lowest-achieving schools. We’re determined to change that. Mayor de Blasio took office vowing to turn around schools like Boys and Girls. He and I both firmly believe that schools should only be closed as an absolute last resort. As a former teacher, principal and administrator, I know that schools are the anchors of healthy neighborhoods. In November, the mayor announced the Renewal Schools initiative, a comprehensive effort to create dramatic and long-lasting change in 94 struggling schools. We are investing $150 million to provide schools with the tools they need — and hold them accountable. We have deployed academic intervention teams to overhaul curriculum, sent groups of experienced principals and assistant principals to strengthen leadership and trained over 600 teachers, while 54 schools have already added instructional time. The work we’re doing at Boys and Girls demonstrates how we are turning around struggling schools by providing them with much-needed resources that come with high expectations. Strong leadership. I can almost always tell how a school is doing after a Continue Reading