Five Queens teams still in hunt for girls ‘A’ crown

By Dylan Butler

The PSAL girls’ ‘A’ playoffs are into their second round and among the 16 teams still remaining, all five from Queens are still alive. Here is a preview of second-round games, beginning Monday:

1. Francis Lewis Patriots vs. 16. Paul Robeson Eagles

Feb. 25, 6 p.m.

Elmcor Activity Center

Two weeks after thrashing Townsend Harris to win the Queens Borough Championship, top-seeded Francis Lewis (24-3) returns to the court against Brooklyn A-2 winner Robeson. The Eagles are led by senior guard Keisha Green, who is the team’s lone scorer in double figures, averaging 16.5 points per game.

“It’s always a concern when you face a team who is a division champion, regardless of the division, because they’re used to winning,” Lewis coach Mike Eisenberg said. “They have some quick guards, which for my team is always a worry. We just need to be prepared to play.”

The Patriots are dangerous both inside and out and have just one player, Maria Miaoulis (10.1 points per game), scoring in double figures. Alaina Davis, Alanna Adams and Nicole Iannotto all average about seven points a game and are forces in the paint while Teresa Rozza, Jasmin Lawrence and Miaoulis are threats from the perimeter.

8. Curtis Warriors vs. 9. Townsend Harris Hawks

Feb. 25, 4 p.m.

Elmcor Activity Center

Townsend Harris was on a roll heading into the Queens Borough Championship game, but were hammered by Francis Lewis, 62-38. Led by sophomore Shanay Freeman (15.7 points per game), the Hawks did a good job of rebounding, defeating Tottenville in a first round game.

A fourth game against the Patriots is possible, but standing in Townsend Harris’ way is another Staten Island team, division winner Curtis, which is led by juniors Stacey Staniland (16.4 points, 10.5 rebounds per game) and Meaghan Mallen (12.5, five assists).

4. Manhattan Center Lady Rams vs. 13. Cardozo Judges

Feb. 26, 6 p.m.

Elmcor Activity Center

After defeating Brooklyn Tech in the first round, Cardozo will have its hands full with a very talented Manhattan Center (22-4) team, led by Temple-bound Mercedes Miller, who averages 15 points and seven rebounds per game. The Judges will have a tough time guarding the 6-foot-2 center in the paint without a player taller than 5-foot-8.

The rest of Shavon Glover’s starting five are lightning-quick guards, including Jennifer Ithier and Nakia Baker, which again provides matchup problems for Cardozo (17-9).

If the Judges can pull off the upset, it will depend on their leader, sophomore point guard Christina Jones, who averages 12.8 points, as well as their top rebounder, Britni Bolden, who averages 10.8 points and six rebounds per game.

5. Madison Lady Knights vs. 20. Jamaica Beavers

Feb. 26, 4 p.m.

Elmcor Activity Center

Even though this is just the second round of the playoffs, Jamaica (18-8) has played playoff-type games for the past three weeks. The Beavers needed to defeat August Martin twice in the span of four days just to make the playoffs and then gave Francis Lewis a scare in the borough semifinals before going to Staten Island to beat Wagner in the first round of the citywide playoffs.

Of course, just having play in Queens A, which has five teams still alive in the playoffs, makes Jamaica, led by senior guard Erica Smith (15 points per game) and LeTanya Grady (12.1 points per game) battle-tested.

“I used to be nervous when we went down 8-10 points, but the girls have learned the game is 32 minutes long. Their confidence has improved,” said Jamaica coach Steve Heiss. “As long as they play as a team, we’re pretty good.”

Coached by Loretta O’Hara, Madison is led by senior forward Justine Paxhia, who averages 18.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game.

6. Midwood Hornets vs. 21 August Martin Angels

Feb. 27, 4 p.m.

Elmcor Activity Center

Maybe it’s the venerable Joel Ascher, or it is just the history. Could it be the shoes? Whatever the case, playoff time is usually when August Martin (10-12) plays its best basketball and this year is no exception. The Angels backed into the playoffs but upset No. 11 Clinton in the first round.

Can Martin pull off another upset, this time over (19-9) Midwood, led by a pair of 5-foot-8 forwards, Alicia Angevine (11.8 points per game) and Topaz Robbins (10.9 points)? To do so, the young Angels need big games from Monique Jenkins (11.5 points) and Electra Moore (12.6 points) and maybe another surprising performance from a freshman, like it got from Vanessa Ross (20 points) in the first round.

PSAL B division

John Adams Spartans vs. Beach Channel Dolphins

Feb. 25, 4 p.m.

John Adams HS

Will the third time around be a charm? Beach Channel coach Victor Nazario certainly hopes so. After losing to Adams 60-46 and 57-42 during the regular season, the teams meet again in the second round of the PSAL B playoffs.

Despite already winning both games, Adams coach Harold Krieger is not happy about playing the Dolphins, who have three players in double-figure scoring led by Katreem Palmer, who averages 15.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, again this early in the playoffs.

“They’re a very good team. I’d rather play any other team from any other division. We shouldn’t meet them in the second round,” Krieger said. “If we had to play them in the semifinals or the finals, that would be different.”

Adams (20-4), which lost to South Shore in the PSAL B title game last year, is led by first-year player Francesca Romano (16 points per game) and Dinorah Diaz (eight points, 6.4 rebounds per game).

Grover Cleveland Indians vs. Wingate Generals

Feb. 26, 4 p.m.

Grover Cleveland HS

Last year Grover Cleveland (19-7) advanced to the PSAL semifinals, only to fall to eventual champion South Shore. The goal for the Indians before the season was to go one step further. But as head coach Jack Ciano knows, his team has to take one game at a time and it faces a formidable opponent in Wingate, which is led by the backcourt duo of Kia Thompson (14.7 points per game) and Lakeisha Brown (14 points per game).

“We need to play good defense and try and get everyone involved offensively,” said Ciano. “We’ve become more diversified but Jennifer is still our go-to player.”

The “Jennifer” Ciano refers to is senior Jennifer Barenboim, who scored her 1,000th point earlier this season. Barenboim (14.8 points per game) is not the Indians’ lone scoring threat. She is joined by Shannon Gonzalez (11.3 points per game) and Stefanie Lacku, who had 16 points in Cleveland’s first round win over Jane Addams.

Van Buren VeeBees vs. Grand Street Lady Wolves

Feb. 25, 4 p.m.

Grand Street Campus HS

Van Buren (19-5) finished second in Queens III-B behind Bayside, but VeeBees head coach Mike McClain says his is a different team now with the addition of Jennear Brown, a transfer from August Martin who just became academically eligible this month.

Brown netted 21 points in Van Buren’s first round win over Lab-Museum and, joined by Jeneva Kelly (16.8 points, 9.6 assists per game), Cherisse Soto (13.8 points) and Cherisse Bellevue, who was also academically ineligible, makes the VeeBees a versatile team offensively.

“We’re very focused right now,” McClain said. “We’re not a good rebounding team, we don’t have the height so we have to play tight man-to-man defense and press.”

Grand Street (20-4) is led by Monet Johnson (19.5 points, 10.6 rebounds per game), Shatasia Little (17.5 points, 11.2 rebounds) and Iesha Harley (13.7 points).

First round results

Grover Cleveland 63, Jane Addams 34. Jennifer Barenboim had 28 points and five assists, Stefanie Lacku netted 16 points and Shannon Gonzalez had five points and 10 assists to lead the host Indians to a PSAL B first-round win Friday.

Jamaica 53, Susan Wagner 52. Erica Smith had 24 points and 18 rebounds and LeTanya Grady added nine points and eight assists for visiting Jamaica last Thursday.

Townsend Harris 67, Tottenville 44. Shanay Freeman scored 27 points and Andi Strauss chipped in 19 for host Townsend Harris last Thursday.

Van Buren 65, Lab-Museum 40. Jennaer Brown had 21 points, Cheriesse Soto added 17 points and Jeneva Kelly netted 15 points for host Van Buren in a first round B division game last Thursday.

August Martin 56, Clinton 50. Vanessa Ross scored seven of her 20 points in overtime to lead visiting August Martin, playing without leading scorer Monique Jenkins who missed the game because of a school suspension, to a win at No. 11 Clinton last Wednesday.

Cardozo 51, Brooklyn Tech 38. Christina Jones scored a game-high 22 points and Britni Bolden added 16 for the 13th-seeded Judges last Tuesday.

John Adams 73, Taft 50. Dinorah Diaz and Francesca Romano netted 13 points apiece for the host Spartans in a PSAL B division first round game last Wednesday.

Other PSAL B division first-round scores: High School of Graphic Communication 41, Newtown 40; South Shore 54, John Bowne 45; Beacon School 53, Edison 31; Health Professionals 64, Springfield Gardens 54; Humanities 43, Bayside 35.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.