By Dylan Butler
They’re the Osbournes of PSAL girls’ basketball, a team in such dysfunction that Francis Lewis coach Mike Eisenberg wouldn’t allow his players to speak to the media after its PSAL Class A quarterfinal game against Queens rival August Martin at Hunter College Saturday.
And that’s after they won.
With three starters benched for the first half, the second-seeded Patriots survived a game but sloppy No. 7 Martin, 69-55, to advance to the semifinals for a third straight year.
Francis Lewis will face No. 3 Curtis at St. John’s University Sunday at noon and can only hope to live up to Eisenberg’s analogy of comparing the Patriots to the 1978 New York Yankees, who won the World Series after a year chock full of bickering.
“At the moment we’re a dysfunctional family; we need to correct things off the court before we do it on the court,” Eisenberg said after defeating August Martin for a fourth time this year. “I think some girls are more interested in other things than basketball right now.”
Playing a chunk of the game without starters Jasmin Lawrence, Teresa Rozza and Alaina Davis, Francis Lewis (29-1) was uncharacteristically sloppy, turning the ball over 39 times.
The only reason the Patriots are returning to the semifinals is because Martin (21-5) — equally careless with the ball — missed 19 foul shots while Francis Lewis was 25-for-34 from the foul line, including 11-for-12 in the final two minutes.
“We had our chances, we have no one to blame but ourselves,” said August Martin coach Joel Ascher. “It’s a loss but it’s a frustrating loss because I know we had the chance to win.”
In a turnover-plagued foul-fest in which the teams combined for 51 fouls, Francis Lewis shot just 20-for-57 from the field but dominated the boards.
Dawn Coleman had 13 points and 7 rebounds, point guard Maurita Reid had 12 points, 8 rebounds, a team-high 4 steals and 2 assists and Natasha Page added 5 points and 9 rebounds.
Monique Jenkins scored a game-high 19 points, including a three-pointer while getting fouled by Rozza, who made her debut with 4:48 left in the game, to cut Martin’s deficit to 56-49 with 3:18 left in the fourth quarter.
Nicole Michael added 15 and Venessa Ross had 14 for the Angels, who improved greatly from last year, when they finished 11-12 and lost in the second round of the playoffs.
“I don’t feel we lost,” said Jenkins, a senior guard. “We went out and played our hardest. It was my last game, but it was the best game and the most fun. We all played together today and didn’t give up.”
As for Francis Lewis, which faces a Curtis team hungry to avenge a pair of losses to the Patriots this year, a third consecutive trip to Madison Square Garden for the PSAL championship is no longer a lock.
“If we get our act together, we should be the favorite, but if not it’s 50/50,” Eisenberg said of the semifinal game. “We’re going to find out this week who wants to play and who doesn’t. It hasn’t been a good couple of weeks, there’s been a lot of pettiness going on.”
Curtis 61, Cardozo 52. Forget their height advantage, forget the struggles of Britni Bolden, who was held to just 8 points, there was one difference for No. 3 Curtis in its nine-point win over 11th-seeded Cardozo in the PSAL ‘A’ quarterfinals Saturday at Hunter College, according to Lady Judges coach Larry Carradine: Talia Sutton.
The Curtis senior forward had a game-high 20 points, but more importantly was her ability to break Cardozo’s vaunted full court press in the fourth quarter.
“Our press is always very effective, but we haven’t faced a player like that. She single-handedly broke our press time after time,” Carradine said of the 5-foot-11 senior. “We always get spurts off the press, you’re going to get six to eight points but we just didn’t get it.”
After Cardozo freshman Marissa Flagg (16 points) opened the third quarter with a three-pointer that cut the Lady Judges deficit to 29-24, Curtis (22-7) pounded the ball inside to the Coppin State-bound forward and 6-foot senior Stacy Staniland (12 points), who combined for 13 of the Warriors’ 15 third-quarter points.
“We know a lot of teams can’t stop both of us in the post,” Sutton said. “It’s what our advantage is.”
Leah Lipschitz (19 points) brought Cardozo (17-8) within 50-46 with a three-pointer from the right wing with 2:51 left in the fourth quarter, but Acasha Gordon (10 points) scored back-to-back press-breaking layups to put the game out of reach for Curtis, the first team from Staten Island since the 1984 Warriors to advance to the semifinals.
“She’s their big girl and she scored most of their points,” Flagg said of Sutton. “We just need another big girl to help us out because it will be better on Britni and Leah and everybody else so they don’t have to get as many rebounds.”
Bayside 54, Van Buren 50. Gayle Silverstein scored 18 points, and Allie Falco added 15 for No. 5 Bayside (23-4) in a PSAL ‘B’ quarterfinal game at Lehman College Sunday. The Commodores advance to play defending ‘B’ champion and top-seeded Bronx Leadership Academy in the semifinals at St. John’s University Sunday at 10 a.m. Van Buren (20-7) was led by Jennaer Brown (14 points) and Delise Johnson (12 points).
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by email at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.