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Martin Van Buren Coach Michael McClain expected this to be a rebuilding season. He graduated four starters, including leading scorers Samantha Johnson and Avery Sibbley.
Little did he know the core of his team - defensive specialist Aimee Aikens, backup point guard Justinna Boatwright and transfer student Kamesha Lambright - would have the Vee Bees undefeated halfway through the league season.
“I’m extremely surprised,” he said. “Considering we have a bunch of kids that really haven’t played together. I never expected that these three seniors would be the focus, which they are. Those three girls are setting the tone.”
The Vee Bees (9-0, Queens A) came out of the new year firing, getting 22 points, 22 rebounds and 11 assists from Lambright in a 59-55 win over previously undefeated John Bowne. Aikens, the lone returning starter, has developed into an offensive threat and Boatwright is the floor general, averaging a triple-double (16 PPG, 12 RPG, 12 APG) according to PSAL statistics, but the 5-foot-10 Lambright has really led Van Buren.
Two years ago, she helped Flushing to an undefeated season in Queens III-B, but transferred last year after the commute from Queens Village to northern Queens became too much.
Because of paperwork complications, she had to sit out last season even though she came to Van Buren as a hardship transfer. She still practiced with the team periodically with an eye on her senior season.
It has paid off so far; she is averaging 15 points and 19 rebounds per game.
“I still say Kamesha has yet to play her best basketball,” McClain said. “She doesn’t realize how good she can be. The kid went unnoticed for a while. If we had her against a team like Jefferson (who beat Van Buren in the PSAL ‘A’ semifinals last March), it would’ve been a different game.”
This year there is no such team looming. However, McClain is not ready to anoint the Vee Bees as a possible challenger for the city crown just yet. He does like this team, even more than his group last season that depended on Sibbley and Johnson. They aren’t just about Boatwright or Lambright. Senior Nickia Witherspoon has stepped up, scoring 6.8 points per game, and Danielle Laiken has contributed.
“This team here, there is no leader,” he said. “There isn’t a go-to person, as opposed to the team last year. Now you got a team where all five girls are moving at the same time and I think it’s catching teams off balance.”

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