Girls All-City hoops honors

Manhattan Center senior point guard China Crosby is the All-City Player of the Year. Photo by Damion Reid/Five Boro Sports

So, this is it. The book closes on an incredible 2008-09 girls’ basketball season with the All-City honors.

There were so many players deserving, it was hard – if not impossible – to fit them all. New York City has some of the best talent in the country and there were future Division I players and league scoring leaders who were left out.

This season, though, was marked by its classic games: Manhattan Center shocking Murry Bergtraum on the final day of the regular season; St. Peter’s pulling off an upset against St. Michael Academy in the CHSAA Class AA Archdiocesan title game; Bergtraum gutting out a win at the Garden against South Shore for an 11th straight PSAL city title; and St. Mike’s coming back from 10 points down in the third quarter to beat Bergtraum for its first-ever New York State Federation Class AA championship.

All-City Girls’ Basketball Player Of The Year: China Crosby, Manhattan Center

What more can you say about Crosby? She’s the consummate New York City point guard. There’s no better leader out there. Few can match her ball-handling and playmaking skills. Sometimes she could even be unselfish to a fault, passing up shots late in games.

Crosby was the city’s only McDonald’s All American in 2009, a well deserved honor. The Virginia-bound native of the Bronx led Manhattan Center to a history-making win against Murry Bergtraum that snapped the Lady Blazers’ 73-game winning streak, way back in February. It was also Bergtraum’s first loss at home since 1999. And Crosby scored 15 points and ran the offense beautifully despite playing on a sprained ankle.

All-City Girls’ Basketball Coach Of The Year: Apache Paschall, St. Michael Academy

The knock on Paschall before this season was that he couldn’t win the big one. St. Mike’s was turned back a few times in playoff settings the last five years or so when it was clearly the favorite. But one couldn’t have written a better story for the Eagles this season. They beat all their rivals – Christ the King in the CHSAA Class AA state tournament’s quarterfinals and Murry Bergtraum in the Federation Class AA championship game – en route to their first trip upstate to Glens Falls and their first New York State Federation title.

All-City First Team

G Jennifer O’Neill, St. Michael Academy

The last two months of the season, there was no better player in the city. O’Neill was the leading scorer on a stacked St. Mike’s team just about every game in the playoffs, from the CHSAA Class AA state tournament to the New York State Federation Class AA tournament. The Bronx native is absolutely fearless going to the basket, an incredible finisher once she gets there and, when the going gets tough, just about unstoppable from the outside.

G Shanee Williams, Murry Bergtraum

Williams did her leading on the court. She played hard every possession and was Bergtraum’s most lethal scorer – even when she was sick and playing with an injured finger in the playoffs. Williams was one of the best 3-point shooters in the city – her NBA-range trey at the third-quarter buzzer at the Garden still haunts South Shore coach Anwar Gladden – and tough and physical going to the basket. The Queens native also was asked to guard the opposing team’s top talent.

G Baytania Newman, South Shore

She was the heart, the soul, the glue – every possible adjective you could come up with – for South Shore. As Newman went, so did the Vikings. And they went pretty far: to the PSAL Class AA city title game at Madison Square Garden. The 5-foot-8 guard willed them there with a ridiculous 18 of the team’s 35 points in the semifinals against John F. Kennedy.

F Shukurah Washington, Murry Bergtraum

Washington is the most unique player in the city. She’s a dominant rebounder and as strong as anyone down low, despite being just 5-feet-10 and usually giving up more than a few inches to opposing forwards. But Washington can also handle the ball and jump start a fast break with incredibly precise outlet passes. She celebrated her 17th birthday at Madison Square Garden, leading Bergtraum to an 11th straight PSAL city title.

F Tahira Johnson, Christ the King

Johnson was a warrior and the most consistent player for this season for the Royals. The South Florida-bound senior played through severe shin splints for the majority of the season, but you would never know it. She owned the backboards, going up to get second and third chances, muscling her way to points and starting transition. Her toughness and leadership was missed when she hurt her knee in warm ups before CK’s season-ending loss to St. Mike’s in the CHSAA Class AA state tournament quarterfinals.

All-City Second Team

G CeCe Dixon, Murry Bergtraum

The later it got in the season, the better Dixon became. For most of her junior year, she deferred to her teammates as a true point guard. But when coach Ed Grezinsky needed her to step up and score, she flipped the switch. Dixon had double-figure point totals throughout the playoffs and poured in 20 points in a loss to St. Michael Academy in the New York State Federation Class AA title game. She also tied the game with a 3-pointer with 49 seconds left in that heartbreaking loss.

G Jasmine Odom, South Shore

The sophomore dynamo is an absolute joy to watch. Everything seems to come easy for the 5-foot-6 Odom, whether it be draining 3-pointers or making silky smooth moves to the basket. She was integral in South Shore’s run to the PSAL Class AA city title game, hitting enormous shots in the Vikings’ comeback against John F. Kennedy in the semifinals. The future for Odom is incredible bright.

G Alicia Cropper, Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson had an up and down season under new coach Dwayne (Pearl) Washington and the Orange Wave almost forfeited all their games and missed the playoffs due to clerical issues with Washington’s eligibility to coach. But Cropper never suffered through it all – it was almost like it never existed to the star guard. She was brilliant going to the basket and shooting jumpers, but she really excelled by getting teammates involved. Her stock should only rise – through the roof – this summer into next season.

F Tiffany Jones, St. Michael Academy

St. Mike’s had incredible size down low, but Jones emerged in her sophomore season as one of the city’s best. At 6-feet-2, she’s incredibly long and athletic. She works hard on the boards and on defense, sometimes defending opposing teams’ guards.

C Victoria Macaulay, Curtis

If Macaulay keeps improving at this rate, watch out. The 6-foot-4, Temple-bound center is a great athlete and knows how to use her height and length. With her on the floor, Curtis always had a chance to win against anyone it faced. Macaulay was a defensive deterrent to any opposing guard who wanted to venture into the lane.

All-City Third Team

G Teara Shaw, John F. Kennedy

Shaw was the main scoring threat on a team that went to the PSAL Class AA semifinals, but that isn’t the only reason she’s in this spot. The senior stepped up as a leader when Kennedy needed it most and buckled down on defense as well as any guard in the city. She was strong, in tremendous physical condition and able to bang down low with girls almost double her size. Shaw is the prototypical tough, NYC guard.

G Bria Smith, Christ the King

Smith has all the tools to dominate a game. The sophomore, who battled an ankle sprain early, has a smooth jumper, break-out speed off the dribble, is a superb leaper and has an uncanny ability to finish around the rim. All of those were on display in a career-high 40-point performance in a win over Mary Louis, which Christ the King also later beat to reclaim the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan title.

G Doris Ortega, Murry Bergtraum

The 5-foot-9 junior was so smooth at everything she did – whether it be knocking down long 3s or driving fearless to the basket – that she almost made it look too easy. Ortega is a complete offensive player; she really has no weakness on that end of the floor. With Shanee Williams graduating, she will need to be Bergtraum’s go-to scorer next year.

F Victoria Jones, St. Peter’s

You knew quickly Victoria Jones was going to have a big season. The junior started the year with a 26-point, 11-rebound performance against St. John the Baptist, the defending CHSAA Class A state champion. Jones didn’t miss a beat from there showing she is one of the most versatile players in the city. Her excellent jumper and ability to score and rebound in the paint help lead the Eagles to the CHSAA Class AA Archdiocesan championship and a berth in the CHSAA Class AA state tournament final.

F Jessica Previlon, Midwood

As far as pure athleticism goes, there weren’t many forwards in the city who could match up with Previlon. The 5-foot-10 senior, who will attend a junior college next season, is the complete package: she runs the floor like a gazelle, rebounds like she’s possessed and finishes inside with aplomb. She was very hard to stop on a Midwood squad that wasn’t terrific on offense.

All-City Honorable Mention

G Christine Kline, St. Peter’s

G Karin Robinson, Mary Louis

G Janine Davis, St. Michael Academy

G Kelly Robinson, Francis Lewis

G Allysia Rohlehr, St. Michael Academy

F Jelleah Sidney, St. Michael Academy

F Shayra Brown, Bishop Ford

F Taylor Ford, St. Michael Academy

F Nicole Marciniak, Archbishop Molloy

F Taylor Baggs, Moore Catholic

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