Though it seems like some of the Bronx’ best talent goes to play elsewhere – the borough still enjoyed a successful season.
BRONX GIRLS’ BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Teara Shaw, John F. Kennedy. The senior had everything you could want in a lead guard. She was almost unstoppable going to the hoop, a major pest on defense and a strong leader. Shaw almost led Kennedy to the PSAL Class AA city championship at Madison Square Garden, but the Knights fell two points short, losing, 35-33, to South Shore in the semis.
One of the best things about Shaw is that she never took a play off. Coach O’Neil Glenn demands a strong work ethic from his players and Shaw embodied that philosophy. The 5-foot-5 slasher is being recruited heavily by American University.
BRONX GIRLS’ BASKETBALL COACH OF THE YEAR: Ryan Ramraj, Aquinas. The beginning of the year was a major learning process. It was Ramraj’s first year coaching and he was adapting to his players, while they were getting used to him. Aquinas didn’t have the best start to the season, but the Bears certainly finished with a flourish. They won the CHSAA Class B Archdiocesan championship game, beating Blessed Sacrament, a team they lost to twice in the regular season. Aquinas made it all the way to the CHSAA Class B state title game – a win away from a trip to Glens Falls – but fell short against Mount Mercy Academy from Buffalo.
ALL-BRONX FIRST TEAM:
G Robyn Jenkins, John F. Kennedy: Jenkins is the kind of player a coach can count on. She can lead and always came up with the big basket for Kennedy. Coach O’Neil Glenn leaned on her heavily as almost a coach on the court. Jenkins played stifling defense and, when left open, could hurt teams from the outside.
G Nishi Tavernier, Bronx Science: The senior point guard just didn’t want her season to end. Tavernier scored 16 of her 27 points in the fourth quarter against Baruch College Campus in the PSAL Class A semifinals. She was absolutely unstoppable going to the basket the final eight minutes of the game. But Baruch pulled out a 56-52 win.
G Latasia Ward, Wings: There aren’t many things Ward doesn’t do. She’s tremendous at slashing to the basket and finding open teammates and she’s one of the best long-range shooters in the Bronx. This year, she scored the 1,000th point of her career.
F Kaydine Bent, Truman: Strong as a bull, Bent is almost impossible to stop once she gets the ball inside. For a big girl, she’s also great at running the floor and moving without the ball. Defensively, the senior was a brick wall inside for Truman. Bent is being recruited by a handful of local Division I schools right now.
F Asia Wheeler, Columbus: There aren’t many long, athletic, 5-foot-11 posts who can put the ball on the floor like her in the Bronx. Wheeler had a soft touch around the basket and was the key ingredient in Columbus’ nice run to the PSAL Class A quarterfinals.
ALL-BRONX SECOND TEAM:
G Jacqueline Schoninger, Fieldston: Schoninger is a complete player. She is able to knock down 3-pointers with ease, get into the lane, handle the defensive pressure you see running the point and even play solid defense. The junior helped lead the Bronx private school to its first-ever Ivy League crown.
G Troi Melton, Cardinal Spellman: Melton is explosive with a nifty turnaround jumper. It was hard to believe she’s only a sophomore. The 5-foot-10 guard has a feathery soft touch from the outside and should only get better with age. Melton has the chance to be Spellman’s next big star.
G Sade Jackson, Aquinas: Jackson nearly willed her underdog squad to a CHSAA Class B state title, scoring 14 of her team’s 35 points in a loss to Mount Mercy. The athletic guard is electric, quick attacking the rim, has a solid jumper and has flown under the radar too long.
F Taylor Murtaugh, Bronx Science: If you told Murtaugh that Bronx Science would win if she ran through a brick wall, she’d probably do it. There were few players as tough as this powerful junior forward. She took no prisoners on the boards and when she got the ball in good position inside – which was often because Nishi Tavernier was her point guard – she was a smooth finisher.
F Darleen McLeod, John F. Kennedy: McLeod, a senior, might have played inside for Kennedy most of the time, but she was actually one of the Knights’ better – if not best – outside shooters. She was an integral piece of the puzzle for coach O’Neil Glenn’s team.
ALL-BRONX THIRD TEAM:
G Ayris Brown, Cardinal Spellman: Brown stepped into the role of injured starting point guard Tia Scott and Spellman didn’t miss a beat, blossoming into the best CHSAA team in the Bronx. When she missed time later in the year, the Cardinals struggled. Brown is sure-handed with the ball and a smart passer and penetrator.
G Jasmin Castro Lopez, Wings: It was her first year playing in an organized offense. The senior had only played street ball before transferring to Wings this season. But Castro Lopez really impressed. She led all of PSAL Class A in assists and scored when the Wings needed her to.
F Samantha Gillman, Truman: Gillman’s game is not what meets the eye. Though 5-feet-9 with a big body, the senior has a ton of perimeter skills. She has an excellent handle and was adept at getting to the basket. Gillman is great if you want to draw an opposing team’s big girl away from the basket.
F Iraida Santiago, Kennedy: The sophomore had some trials and tribulations this season – she didn’t show up to Kennedy’s loss late in the season to Truman – but she was there for her team in the end. Santiago is a very skilled offensive player with a good touch around the basket and a solid mid-range game. And, when she put her mind to it, she could be a good rebounder and defender, too.
F Elsie Ndema, Jane Addams: She’s not quite Scottie Pippen, but the 6-foot post played plenty of point guard for Jane Addams this season. Everything the Jaguars did went through her – literally. She was a very productive scorer, passer and rebounder.
ALL-BRONX HONORABLE MENTION: G Samantha Babb, Aquinas; G Shaunese Crawford, Columbus; G Natalia Leonardo, Jane Addams; G Marina Melendez, S. Bronx; F Chelsea Baez, Riverdale; F Stephanie Dowe, Spellman; F Kimberly Wright, Metropolitan; F Chyna Strickland, Fieldston; F Moni Smith Ocran, Clinton; and F Rykema Stone, Wings.