Just weeks into the 2018-19 high school basketball season, here is a rundown on the busy action around the boroughs.
In girls hoops, Christ the King was No. 1 in the MaxPreps pre-season national rankings and No. 2 in the USA Today's pre-season super 25.
Preseason Top 25 high school girls basketball rankings 📈— MaxPreps (@MaxPreps) November 15, 2018
7. Edison Academy (MI)
Full list 👀: https://t.co/3aPFaHifQl pic.twitter.com/aPtsUyOS4U
With a trio of standouts who have committed to major Division I Schools, namely Kaelynn Satterfield (Ohio State), Klarke Sconiers (Minnesota) and Nina Rickards (Florida), Christ the King will play on the national stage later this week at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Arizona. Although the Lady Royals dropped their first two games at the Art Turner Memorial Showcase in Fairfax, Virginia, since then CTK has posted two convincing wins over quality opponents, defeating Nazareth 86-32 and St. Francis Prep 54-34. Looking ahead after the Nike TOC, the Lady Royals will face perennial NYSPHSAA power Ossining on January 4th and host Kateri Poole and Monsignor Scanlan at the Apparel Challenge on January 6th.
Cardinal Hayes grabbed the top spot in the initial NYSSWA boys AA rankings, edging Long Island Lutheran (2) and South Shore (3). Joe Toussaint has started off his senior campaign with a bang, putting up a game-high 29 points against defending CHSAA champs Archbishop Stepinac in the league-opener, 31 points in a win over Mount Saint Michael and, most recently, 29 points in the Cardinals' win over Xaverian on Sunday. With Toussaint and Jaylen Murray, Hayes has a formidable backcourt, but their less-talked-about frontcourt is also solid, with senior Adam Cisse and sophomore Shemani Fuller. They head into the week with an unblemished record of 7-0.
After stumbling out of the gate, Stepinac finally got into the win column on Sunday with a 69-56 win over St. Peter's. The Crusaders dropped their first four games to Hayes (away), Monsignor Scanlan (home), Bishop Loughlin (away) and Christ the King (home) riddled with injuries and enduring a two game suspension of Head Coach Pat Massaroni, who missed the Loughlin and CTK games. Junior point guard RJ Davis has been brilliant since missing the season-opener (27 points in his return versus Scanlan; 29 points against Loughlin and 29 again in the win over St. Peter's), but national prospect Adrian Griffin Jr. remains sidelined.
RJ Davis of Archbishop Stepinac is coming off a 29 point 8 assist performance in the Crusaders' loss at Bishop Loughlin on Sunday. Stepinac will host Christ the King in White Plains tonight in a rematch of last year's @CHSAA_NYC AA title game. @step_basketball @StepinacSports pic.twitter.com/UPuI1HUGN6— HS Box Scores NYC (@hsboxscoresnyc) December 14, 2018
St. Peter's had impressive wins over Curtis and Scanlan, but have since dropped two straight, including an upset at the hands of St. Joseph-by-the-sea. The Eagles are led by senior Chris Clancy and junior Liam Murphy.
After playing without a home court for most of last season due to renovations, Loughlin is making good use of its refreshed digs, topping Stepinac (84-75), St. Francis Prep (80-74), Holy Cross (67-53) and, most recently, PSAL powerhouse Thomas Jefferson (87-74), all in Fort Greene. Senior Justin Champagnie looked dominant against Stepinac (29 points) and had 25 in the win over Jefferson.
Monsignor Scanlan has two impressive wins under its belt, one on the road against Stepinac (86-78) and the other a home win in the Bronx over Christ the King (74-73). Junior Kobe Brea scored 32 points in the Stepinac win and junior Matt Mayers put up 21 against CTK.
Christ the King has had its ups and downs thus far. The Royals opened with a win over Holy Cross (83-59), dropped a lopsided affair to defending PSAL champs South Shore in the Battle in the Apple showcase at the Barclays Center (75-54), rebounded with a road win at Stepinac (85-69) and then fell to Monsignor Scanlan in the Bronx on Sunday night (74-73). Ryan Myers, Quaran McPherson and Sterling Jones have accounted for the lion's share of CTK's offense.
After splitting a pair of games at the Holiday Hoopsgiving showcase in Georgia, South Shore has yet to be challenged in the boroughs. In addition to the non-league win over CTK at the Barclays Center, the Vikings have defeated Eagle Academy II (82-52); Brooklyn Collegiate (61-46); Paul Robeson (90-54); George Westinghouse (102-55) and Boys & Girls (85-52). South Shore has a seasoned roster, with seniors Isaiah Richards, Femi Odukale, Kadary Richmond and CTK transfer Philpps Joseph leading the way. The Vikings figure to be tested when they visit PSAL Brooklyn AA foe Thomas Jefferson on January 3rd.
As if their league schedule was not grueling enough, Jefferson's non-league agenda has been just as tough, if not tougher. The Orange Wave were edged by LuHi 84-81 in East New York on December 8th and fell to Loughlin in Fort Greene 87-74 on Sunday night. Senior Kareem Welch has put up eye-popping numbers thus far, including 64 points against Robeson, 50 against Eagle II, and 41 versus Brooklyn Collegiate. Jefferson's lone setback in league play has been an 86-85 squeaker at the hands of Brooklyn Collegiate. Speaking of BC, their only loss in five league tries has been to the frontrunning Vikings (61-56) and the Lions handled PSAL Bronx contender Eagle Academy 68-46 on a neutral court on December 8th. Amahrie Simpkins has emerged as a key contributor in Brooklyn Collegiate's arsenal, complimenting Majesty Johnson, Glen Anderson and Charles Brown.
Cardozo Head Coach Ron Naclerio reached a remarkable milestone on December 11th, picking up his 800th career win against Springfield Gardens. The achievement comes amid controversy over the seemingly bizarre relocation of Naclerio's office at Cardozo, a notable shrine loaded with NYC basketball memorabilia. Meanwhile the Judges are 3-1 in PSAL Queens AA league play after a 63-58 loss to John Bowne. Jaylen Davis has been a solid performer for Cardozo, posting 31 points in a win against QHST. Bowne is 4-2 in the PSAL Queens AA.
The deck has been reshuffled in the CHSAA's A Division, and the result is a highly competitive landscape. Three elements have made things interesting: (1) the downward move by All Hallows from the AA ranks; (2) the upward move of LaSalle Academy from CHSAA B; and (3) the transition of former Lincoln head coach and grassroots guru Dwayne Morton to the sidelines of defending CHSAA A champs Nazareth.
Morton's impact has been immediate, as the Kingsmen are now 5-0 with an average margin of victory of 22.5 points and wins over Fordham Prep and All Hallows. Nazareth will travel to New Jersey on Friday to take on St. Patrick's at Gil St. Bernard.
Despite the loss to Nazareth in Flatbush, All Hallows figures to be in the mix in March. Senior Nick Johnson and junior Devin Diaz have been exceptional thus far, guiding the Gaels to wins over AA contender St. Raymond, LaSalle on the road, and most recently and impressively, a 71-68 neutral court triumph over PSAL A Division stalwart Brooklyn Law & Tech.
The Jets, the defending PSAL A champs, were slated at Number 3 in NYS and Number 1 in NYC in the initial NYSSWA Class A rankings.
Canarsie and Seward Park are both unbeaten in PSAL A Division league play. Junior Travon Mack of Seward Park can put points on the board in a hurry, scoring 12 in the fourth quarter of the Bears' win over Murry Bergtraum.
Fannie Lou Hamer has continued to steamroll PSAL B opponents in league play, but the Panthers came up short in a non-league test against Lawrence Woodmere Academy, boasting Lousville-bound post player Aidan Igiehon. Head Coach Marc Skelton reminded the twitterverse that Fannie Lou had taken down LWA 42-39 en route to the Panthers' 2018 NYS Federation Championship, and the Bronx school recently unveiled the banner.
Fannie Lou notched a quality non-league win over Dalton (56-49) on December 10th (Dalton was Number 8 in the initial NYSSWA NYC Class B rankings). The Panthers will visit South Bronx Prep on January 15th, a notable calendar event considering that the Cougars took the top spot in the NYSSWA NYS Class B rankings.
Dwight School had an impressive home win on December 12th, taking down mighty LWA 55-51 just days after the tussle with Fannie Lou Hamer. Freshman Richard Nweke had 12 points and senior Dajuan Piper had 11 for Dwight.
* An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified Nazareth's opponent as Gil St. Bernard.