Young Knights battle in championship loss to Bergtraum
By MARC RAIMONDI
The second half was when Murry Bergtraum seized control of the game, but John F. Kennedy coach O’Neil Glenn shook his head when he thought about the first half. The Knights trailed by just two points at the break, but he felt they could have actually been ahead.
“We had 13 turnovers in the first half and they didn’t pressure us,” Glenn said.
The vaunted Bergtraum press came after halftime and Kennedy didn’t do a great job of handling it. The result was a 58-37 win for the top-seeded Lady Blazers over the rival and third-seeded Knights in the PSAL Class AA girls basketball championship game Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
“I thought we battled in the first half,” Glenn said. “But then the inexperience reared its head.”
Kennedy (20-9) starts three sophomores – Deaisia Acklin, Chelsea Custodio and Sarah Vann – and brings another (Leshauna Phinazee) off the bench. The Knights were a long shot to make their second Garden appearance in four years. So in many ways they were playing with house money.
“I’ve got nine girls coming back next year,” Glenn said.
That includes Acklin, who had 10 points and seven rebounds in one of her best games of the season. She, like the rest of her teammates, were not intimidated by Bergtraum (25-0), a team that they have seen twice before in the regular season. And the prospect of playing the Lady Blazers at Madison Square Garden, where Bergtraum has won now 12 straight titles, didn’t faze them.
“The nerves went away as soon as they threw up the ball for the tip,” Acklin said.
Bergtraum tried to take away Kennedy’s shooters – Isis Alonso, Danissa Smith and Chrismary Martinez – and was effective for the most part. Smith did hit a pair of 3-pointers, though, in one of her best games in awhile. Then Lady Blazers coach Ed Grezinsky drew up a box-and-1 for Acklin and the Knights struggled to adjust.
It was more Bergtraum than the location, though, Glenn explained.
“I’m sure if you play them at West 4th, it’s going to be the same thing,” he said with a laugh.
The coach said he didn’t know what it would take to knock off Bergtraum, to end the Lady Blazers incredible dynasty. But, he believes before all is said and done, Kennedy will be holding the trophy up one of these years.
“It will come,” Glenn said. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”