JFK girls can’t hold off young rivals

The contributions of sophomores Sonata Mallory (pictured), Kiarah Dunlap and Brea Castro Gambrell were vital to Manhattan Center’s 53-42 win against Kennedy. Photo by Damion Reid/Five Boro Sports

China Crosby didn’t begin the game with a ton of faith in her younger teammates’ ability to handle adversity. She knew if the Manhattan Center girls’ basketball team was going to beat Kennedy on Friday afternoon, it would have everything to do with her and junior guard Aziza Patterson.

But late in the fourth quarter, both guards were out and the Knights were mounting a comeback. The young role players were able to hold it together, though, and the Lady Rams hung on for a 53-42 win in PSAL Bronx/Manhattan AA action in Harlem.

Perhaps the best performance out of an underclassman, though, was the one by Brea Castro Gambrell, who had a game-high 15 points. The 5-foot-10 forward, who transferred from Cathedral HS, established herself inside in the third quarter and was the main recipient of Crosby’s passes after halftime.

“She’s my sophomore secret,” Bradley said with a laugh.

Patterson had 14 points for the Lady Rams and Crosby added 11, an off-day for her, but somewhat due to an ankle injury she sustained in practice this week. Iraida Santiago led JFK with 13 points and Shaw had 11 points.

Though his team was able to come back from deficits of 19 points twice, Kennedy coach O’Neil Glenn wasn’t happy about much of anything that occurred Friday. The Knights (4-1, 3-1) cut the lead to 46-35 with 3:51 left in the game, but then couldn’t convert some easy opportunities around the basket, some of which Glenn felt should have at least resulted in foul calls.

“But it’s not like we made free throws anyway,” he said.

The coach picked up a technical foul in the fourth quarter for arguing with the referees and was angry at one point because he felt the scorer’s table wasn’t changing the possession arrow. More so, though, he was upset by his team’s slow start to the game. Kennedy was down 13-4 in the first quarter and trailed 26-13 at halftime.

“We didn’t come to play,” he said. “I make no excuses.”

Senior guard Teara Shaw shared in his sentiments.

“I think they out-hustled us and out-rebounded us,” she said. “They were getting back on defense and we were jogging back.”

Yet, Kennedy still had a chance. Crosby and Patterson were out and Manahattan Center’s young players had wide eyes. Just not for very long. The young Lady Rams came through when needed.

With this newfound maturity from its underclassmen, Manhattan Center should be around for awhile this year.

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