Jazzarae Campbell knew one of the keys to beating Murry Bergtraum. The John F. Kennedy senior has played the Lady Blazers enough times to have a pretty good idea of what to do.
“We basically had to match their intensity,” Campbell said.
Kennedy did just that for a half, going into the locker rooms down just one point and arguably outplaying its rival. But, of course, there’s a reason why Bergtraum has won 11 straight PSAL city titles. The Lady Blazers turned it up a notch in the second half and finished the game with a flourish in a 62-45 win Friday in a PSAL Bronx/Manhattan AA crossover game in The Bronx.
“We need to learn how to keep that intensity for the whole game,” sophomore Leshauna Phinazee said.
Kennedy (10-4, 6-2 Bronx AA) led by as much as 17-10 after a Phinazee basket with 7:40 left in the second quarter and could have gone into halftime with a lead when Isis Alonso knocked down a 3-pointer with 59 seconds left to make it 28-25. But Monae Abrams and CeCe Dixon had back-to-back baskets to close the half for Bergtraum (11-0, 7-0 Manhattan AA).
Campbell put the Knights ahead, 30-29, to start the third quarter, but the Lady Blazers responded with an 8-0 run. That would be Kennedy’s last lead. With where this team started, playing even with Bergtraum for a half has to be looked at as a positive.
“Even with the ‘L,’ it’s one of the best games we played all year,” Campbell said.
Not for coach O’Neil Glenn. He’s not even happy when Kennedy wins by 30, so a loss – any kind of loss – burns him up. Glenn said the issues with the Knights are mental ones.
“I’m not happy with moral victories,” he said, adding later, his voice getting louder and louder: “At times we rush when we don’t need to, we rush when we don’t need to, we rush when we don’t need to.”
Kennedy, which features six sophomores, struggled early in the season. There was youth and inexperience and the Knights definitely weren’t on the same page. That has changed now. Phinazee said a blowout loss to upstate power Corcoran at the Amsterdam holiday tournament woke the team up a bit. Since then, Kennedy, ranked No. 7 in the PSAL by The Post, has beaten No. 8 Midwood and No. 9 West 50th Street Campus.
Campbell had 11 points in the loss. Sophomore Sarah Vann, a transfer from Alabama, had eight points and showed uncanny strength and toughness going up against a much bigger Shukurah Washington of Bergtraum. Phinazee and Vann, despite being undersized, went rebound for rebound with the Lady Blazers.
NJ transfer Danissa Smith and Alonso are always dangerous from 3-point range when they’re out there, but Bergtraum coach Ed Grezinsky used a triange-and-2 defense at times to quell their range. Everyone seems to have stepped it up from where they were at the beginning of the season. Even Glenn, ever the pessimist, would admit that.
©2010 Community News Group