Wings Academy’s three losses are by a combined five points. One was in overtime and another at the buzzer against Bronx rival St. Raymond. Its contest against Gonzaga (D.C.) easily could have been its fourth defeat when a 16-point lead quickly dissipated in the third quarter.
Instead Wings was able to pull itself together multiple times behind a big night from highly-recruited center Jessie Govan to secure a 69-67 victory during the Big Apple Basketball Invitational at Baruch College last Saturday. It was a game Wings coach Billy Turnage felt his team would have lost a few weeks ago. He saw the victory as an important step forward for a team with big aspirations
“These types of ball games, we have to learn how to win these ball games if we are going to win the city championship,” Turnage said.
That doesn’t happen without a monster day from Govan, the 6-foot-11 St. Mary’s transfer. The junior scored 38 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked six shots. He tallied 14 of Wings’ 17 first quarter points.
“He came out on fire,” said Wings junior guard Desure Buie, who had 16 points and five assists. “He was aggressive, he rebounded offensively and made a lot of layups.”
Wings (15-3) built what looked like a commanding 41-25 lead early in the third quarter. Gonzaga then began to double team Govan and forced Wings into turnover to spark a 16-2 run that cut the led to three with 1:12 remaining in the third. Turnage called time out to tell his team to get Govan the ball even with the double teams.
Buie and backcourt mate Randy Corporan, who had six assists, made a concerted effort to make it happen. Govan, who has gotten use to navigating extra defenders, scored twice during an 8-0 run that put Wings up 51-40 early in the fourth quarter.
“I just have to read them right and make the right plays,” Govan said.
Gonzaga (6-12) got as close as 60-57 thanks to some hot 3-point shooting with 1:55 remaining in the game. Bryant Crawford paced the Eagles with 22 points, including four 3-pointers and Jordan Abdur-Raoof added 12.
Foday Sankaray (11 points) responded with a big corner jumper and Corporan fed Govan for a layup on the next possession to put Wings back firmly in control at 64-57 with 55 seconds left. Govan felt his teams heart late was a big sign for the future.
“We let them back in it,” Govan said. “They had the momentum and we could’ve put our heads down and quit, but we played through the adversity.”