BY Dennis Pereira
The Queensborough men’s basketball team captured its first CUNYAC championship in five years Friday night after defeating Hostos Community College 81-64 at the Borough of Manhattan Community College.
It was the Tigers sixth CUNY crown, tying them with Kingsborough for most championships.
Despite missing 6-foot-4 Salahudin Clark, who missed the game because of the birth of his first child, No. 4 Hostos killed the Tigers on the boards, outrebounding them 61-32 for the game.
Dewayne Thomas scored 11 of his game-high 26 points in the first half as No. 2 Queensborough (12-11) led 32-25 with two minutes left in the first half. Tigers coach Tom Sinnickson sat three starters who had 2 fouls, and the Caimans quickly took advantage, going on a 10-2 run to end the half with a 35-34 lead.
Tournament MVP Johann Yorke took over the game in the second half, finishing with 23 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the field and grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds.
“Coach told us about the lack of rebounding at halftime and we were committed to grabbing rebounds,” said Yorke, a 6-foot-4 sophomore forward. “I think this team really bought into coach Sinnickson’s system this year and it paid off by winning this championship.”
Yorke and his teammates were able to get to the foul line and once there they made their free throws, connecting on 76 percent (32-for-42) from the line, which proved to be a major reason the Tigers were able to defeat Hostos (12-17) for the third time this season.
Queensborough freshman Carl Emengo was also huge, scoring 18 points and dishing out 5 assists. The 6-foot-1 guard out of Canarsie High School shot 10-for-12 from the free throw line and made 2-of-4 from behind the arc.
The Brooklyn native also played tough defense, combining with Yorke for 6 steals of Queensborough’s 12 steals in the game as the Tigers forced 26 turnovers.
In the second half the Tigers (13-12) began to open up their lead, and a close game quickly became a blowout. Caiman starters Juan Ortiz and Kevin Hayes fouled out in the second half and the Tigers ran away with an easy victory, outscoring first-year Hostos 47-29 in the second half.
“I’m very proud of my guys; they played hard and were able to overcome a big rebounding difference with steals and forcing them to turn over the ball,” said Sinnickson, who captured his fourth CUNY title. “We made our free throws and it seemed like we wore them down at the end.”
Queensborough 88, BMCC 79. Thomas scored a game-high 27 points and pulled down 8 rebounds to help the Tigers overcome the Panthers in the CUNY semifinals Feb. 19.
Yorke, who did not start because of disciplinary reasons, added 18 points and pulled down 17 rebounds against a much taller Manhattan team. Teron Simpson scored 15 points, dished out 8 assists and made key free throws down the stretch to ice the game, as the Tigers outscored No. 3 BMCC (7-14) 21-9 from the charity stripe.
Next up for Queensborough is the Region XV tournament. The Tigers, seeded seventh, will face No. 2 Suffolk Community College at Kingsborough Friday at 3 p.m.
Reach contributing writer Dennis Pereira at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.