By Dylan Butler
Rahshon Clark heard the Gompers boys' basketball team was big, but the Beach Channel senior found out soon enough just how big. Between drawing charges and getting hammered when he exploded to the basket, the lanky 6-foot-5 Clark seemed to spend as much time horizontally as he did vertically Thursday at Elmcor.
But it wasn't its imposing frontcourt that made the difference in the final minute of the fourth quarter with No. 13 Gompers clinging to a two-point lead. Instead, senior guard Cleon Wiley stole the show and the ball – twice – in the final 20 seconds to lift the Panthers to a 58-51 upset win over No. 4 Beach Channel in the second round of the PSAL Class A playoffs.
Led by point guard Edgar Acevedo, who scored a team-high 15 points, Gompers advances to play No. 5 Cardozo in the quarterfinals at Hunter College Sunday at 4 p.m. The Judges cruised past Urban Peace, 80-62 in the opener at Elmcor.
“I don't get nervous like the other kids,” said Wiley, who has doubled his scoring average (7 points per game) during the playoffs. “I just anticipated the pass. We cut off the first pass and I watched the ball and saw it coming.”
Gompers frontline of 6-foot-4, 230-pound Stedford McLeod (11 points), 6-foot-6, 225-pound Ahmad McClure (10 points, 8 blocks) and 6-foot-4, 235-pound Darren Bailey would make most football coaches drool and they certainly gave Beach Channel coach Jim Malone headaches.
“I thought we boxed out on a lot of occasions but there's not one of them, there's three of them,” Malone said of Gompers frontcourt. “They're physical and didn't let us cut. It impeded our progress.”
So did turnovers and none loomed larger than Wiley's strip of Dolphins point guard Victor Alvarez with Beach Channel (22-3) trailing 54-51 with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
“If he was bumped or not, he did get stripped,” Malone said of Alvarez, who finished with eight points. “I would have liked to have done more damage, we're a good team.”
So is Gompers (21-7), which scored the first eight points of the game and advances to the quarterfinals for the first time in recent history. But until Wiley's heroics, it appeared the Panthers were on its way to a second straight second-round loss as back-to-back turnovers on inbound plays opened the door for Clark and Beach Channel.
But the Dolphins also struggled to handle the ball down the stretch. It didn't help that Beach Channel had to play the final 6:26 without Arthur Robertson, who had 9 points and fouled out on a phantom hold while setting a screen.
“We were just running like we didn't know what we were doing,” said Clark, who will attend prep school in the fall. “The turnovers messed up our whole coordination.”
Cardozo 80, Urban Peace 62. Give Cameron Tyler the option and the Cardozo senior guard most certainly would choose playing with Skyler Khaleel, a 6-foot-4 junior who single-handedly is the Judges frontcourt. But without Khaleel, who injured his knee in a pickup game last week, Tyler had more chance to do what he loves to do: run the floor.
Tyler did just that, scoring 8 of his team's first 9 points en route to a team-high 24 points as No. 5 Cardozo cruised past 12th-seeded Urban Peace, 80-62 Thursday at Elmcor.
“Everything we do is up and down, no set plays but that's better for me,” Tyler said. “I'm not good at feeding the post that well.”
Cardozo (21-6) also received another strong outing from senior guard Raynard Jones, who scored 14 of his 21 points in the first half as the Judges opened up a 45-20 halftime lead.
A layup by Tyler put Cardozo ahead by 27 to open the third quarter but led by Paul Flowers, who scored a game-high 27 points, Urban Peace (14-4) went on a 16-3 run to close out the third quarter to get within 58-43. On a putback by Renee Pineda, the Panthers were within 12, but Cardozo closed the door with a strong fourth quarter.
“I think the kids were a little nervous and unsure because of the way things have gone, losing a Division I player in Skyler Khaleel,” said Cardozo coach Ron Naclerio, who is unsure if Khaleel will be available Sunday. “We're weak on the boards with him.”
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.