Joyner takes hard fall, but responds with fury
Senior scores 36 points, leads South Bronx to PSAL Class A semis
By ZACH BRAZILLER
As Dashawn Joyner lay flat on his stomach, hardly moving, a hush went over the pro-South Bronx contingent. The Phoenix bench wasn’t nearly as concerned.
“We call him the rubber band man,” South Bronx coach Doug Porter said. “He just pops back up. We don’t worry about him that much. Dashawn’s a warrior.”
An hour later, No. 14 Susan Wagner was the one hurting.
Shaking off the pain in his back, Joyner led sixth-seeded South Bronx past the Falcons, 68-61, in a PSAL Class A boys basketball quarterfinal at City College of New York Sunday afternoon. The Phoenix faces No. 18 Brooklyn Tech next Sunday at 3 p.m. in the semifinals at Lehman College.
Joyner, a senior point guard, scored 36 points, grabbed six rebounds and added six assists. He hit four 3-pointers, including one to close the third quarter, giving South Bronx (26-3) the lead for good. Joyner said he thought his afternoon was over when he landed hard on his lower back after scoring on a baseline drive and drawing a foul on David Hunter.
“I thought I was done,” he said. “It felt like it snapped. I didn’t think I was gonna get up.”
A trainer examined Joyner, which revealed only a bone bruise. A minute and six seconds later, he returned and promptly drilled a 3-pointer.
“I wanted to win bad so I didn’t care about the pain,” Joyner said. “The win is more important than [my injury]. I can be cured. I can’t cure a [loss].”
Joyner surprised himself with his high-scoring output. Although he averaged 19 points during the regular season, he also averaged a triple double and has to be told to shoot more. Plus, before the opening tip, he told teammate Luis Sanchez he wasn’t feeling sharp. He failed to get loose in warm-ups during which he missed several 3-pointers and layups.
Joyner showed no ill effects at the opening tip, going coast-to-coast for a layup. It was a preview of the next 32 minutes of basketball, Joyner flying from one end of the floor to the other, draining jumpers, finishing off drives or finding open teammates. In one sequence in the third quarter he raced back to break up a long feed for Sergiro Agosa, then sprinted back the other way for an offensive rebound and was fouled, drawing the fourth on Michael Callino.
“If he’s on, whatever he wants to do, he can just do,” said Sanchez, who scored 14 points.
The result was very much in doubt late in the third quarter. Led by Callino (24 points) and Agosa, Wagner was controlling the paint and South Bronx was misfiring from the perimeter. The Falcons (13-14) led 44-41 before South Bronx ripped off 14 of the next 15 points. Joyner hit two 3-pointers in the furious flurry, including a step back trifecta to cap the quarter. He added two assists, one a highlight-reel, over-the-shoulder feed to teammate Jonathan Rivera for a layup as he raced into the lane.
“I’ve been coaching 26 years and he’s the best player I ever had. Not even close,” said Porter, who is in his third year at South Bronx after various other coaching stops. “A lot of times I feel like he won’t let us lose.”
Last year, they were eliminated in the second round, but only because Joyner was suspended as a disciplinary measure when he left school for lunch. He has been on his best behavior this postseason, and South Bronx is in the final four for the first time in program history.
“Sky’s the limit for us,” Porter said.
The school has only won two titles – in volleyball and football. Joyner attended the title on the gridiron in late November. After the dramatic victory, the football team was asking him to continue the run.
“Everybody was telling me it’s my turn,” he said.
So far, Joyner has been up to the challenge.