Even in defeat, Galan shows promise for Gompers
By Zach Braziller
Ned Jackson made sure to shake each and every one of his players’ hands at they passed him in the narrow hallway outside of the locker room.
The Gompers boys basketball coach was essentially saying goodbye for good to his team following their 63-55 loss to No. 17 West 50th Street Campus in the opening round of the PSAL Class AA playoffs.
Of his 12-man roster, eight are seniors, including forwards Jason Henry, Sunday Bambgrose and Mouctar Toure.
“We put something together that was kind of special, but it was a one-year pro-ject for me,” said Jackson, who coached Gompers for 18 seasons before taking a five-year hiatus that ended this winter.
The coach plans to be at The Bronx school for a while, however, he said. Car-los Galan, the Panthers’ leading scorer as a freshman, is one very understandable reason.
He scored a team-high 25 points in the loss, wowing the home crowd with an array of deft jump shots and successful drives into the lane. He made all ? of his free throw attempts and ended the third quarter with a hanging 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving Gompers a short-lived 44-42.
“Somebody whose just getting into the varsity game, he has so much confidence, the sky’s the limit for that kid,” Jackson said. “He’s going to be a problem as a sen-ior. All I’m going to do is surround him with other players.”
Said Galan: “It went well, but I could’ve done better.”
Gompers (8-13) had no answer for West 50th junior Yunus Hopkinson, who poured in a game-high 31 points, 16 in the fourth quarter. While he was lighting up the scoreboard, West 50th Street smartly trapped Galan, forcing the ball into the hands of his less capable teammates. As has been the case in previous losses, Gompers outrebounded its opponent, but failed to take advantage of the extra op-portunities.
The Panthers missed at least a dozen layups following offensive rebounds, leading to fast break opportunities for the Seahawks. Henry grabbed a game-high 19 boards and Mouctar (nine points) had 12, but the two combined to score just 15 points.
“I think that we were so hyper, we just threw the ball up there too hard, too soft, we missed so many,” Jackson said. “It had to be, I guess, nerves.”
The coach left Gompers encouraged, by his dynamic freshmen and his hard-working seniors. There weren’t high ex-pectations for the Panthers at the sea-son’s outset, after losing leading scorers Tevin Bracey and David Love. They were almost brand new, as was the coach. Yet, they played their way into the playoffs out of Bronx AA, laying the foundation for a possibly fruitful future.
“They fought pretty hard all year and they never gave up on anything,” Jackson said.