By Dylan Butler
The ball was right where it belonged, in the able hands of Danial Levent.
That is until the final buzzer blared, which is when the senior on the Academy of American Studies boys’ basketball team slammed it to the ground as an exclamation point in a 68-60 win over rival Robert F. Wagner Saturday morning.
The victory, which clinched the Queens B title for the Eagles, was especially sweet for Levent after the his team fell to Wagner, 95-93, in overtime Jan. 5.
“After that game we were looking for some redemption and we got it today,” Levent said. “We wanted to make a statement, and I think we came out and really showed how we can play.”
Once again Levent was outscored by Wagner sophomore Carl Wardlaw, who was on a pace to repeat his career-high 44 points he scored in that overtime win.
But after scoring 21 points in the first half, which saw American Studies lead 34-33 at the break, Wardlaw was somewhat contained in the second half despite scoring a game-high 36 points.
“We came out serious and we just fell apart,” Wardlaw said. “I guess I wasn’t doing my part as a captain to stay on them.”
After a tight first half that saw the lead change hands several times, American Studies (14-6, 13-1 Queens B) took control of the game in the third quarter when the Eagles went on a 12-1 run to take a 46-36 lead. American Studies wouldn’t trail again.
“We had a little chat in the locker room and they weren’t going to let the lead slip away,” said American Studies coach Brian Loesch.
Robert F. Wagner (17-7, 12-3) got close, cutting the Eagles’ lead to four, 51-47, on a three-pointer by Garrett Chase. But American Studies quickly went back up by 10, 57-47, on a putback by Levent, who had 24 points and 12 rebounds.
“Every time in my halftime speech I always tell them the first two to three minutes of the third quarter will determine the game,” said Robert F. Wagner coach Bob Breung. “We came out and had a couple of turnovers here and there, and before you know it a two-point game was a 10-point game.”
While Levent has garnered much of the attention this year, and rightfully so — he is among the leaders in the PSAL in scoring and rebounding — the Eagles’ supporting cast also played well.
Center Kenneth Rienecker had 10 points and 10 rebounds, point guard Jefthe Lamy had 12 points, 12 rebounds and four assists, and Jose Galeano added 14 points.
Cardozo 70, Bishop Loughlin 58. Theo Davis had 26 points, 16 rebounds and eight blocks, Vic Morris had 17 points and seven assists and Skyler Khaleel added 12 points and nine rebounds in a non-league win for Cardozo (20-2).
Jamaica 55, Life Sciences Secondary 50. David Anderson had 18 points and Brandon Lawley added 10 points for Jamaica (17-6), while Hakiem George paced Life Sciences (9-10) with a game-high 29 points.
Newtown 47, CB East 33. Rainer Rickards had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Jeff Pena added nine points, six assists and five steals for Newtown (16-6) in the New York-Phili Challenge.
Newcomers 74, Robert F. Kennedy 61. Lukasz Zienko had 27 points and 11 rebounds, Beethoven Joseph had 20 points and 20 rebounds and Aldo Tejada added 18 points for Newcomers(3-15, 3-11 Queens B).
Queens Vocational 38, Renaissance 35. George Fervil had 15 points, including a pair of clutch free throws with five seconds left, and nine rebounds and Matthew Bermudez added nine points, seven rebounds and six blocks for Queens Vocational (10-11, 6-7 Queens B).
Newtown 67, Forest Hills 53. Rickards had 21 points and eight rebounds and Byron Headley added 18 points and 15 rebounds for the Pioneers.
Cardozo 75, Hillcrest 62. Nick Flagg had 18 points, Khaleel had 14 points and 12 rebounds and Davis added 14 points and 10 boards for the Judges.
Campus Magnet 62, August Martin 59. Steven Brevitt had 16 points and Keith McAllister added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Campus Magnet (14-4, 12-1 Queens III-A).
Flushing 66, Bryant 56. Vernon Teel had 27 points and 13 rebounds and Andrew Luchetti added 12 points and 10 rebounds for Flushing (20-4, 12-2 Queens I-A).
Long Island City 71, Franklin K. Lane 32. Silvio Marfe had 24 points, Preston Bell added 18 and Michael Laboy had 15 points, including his 1,000th of his career, for Long Island City (18-4, 12-2 Queens I-A).
Grover Cleveland 74, Aviation 47. Rey Villafane had 24 points and 22 rebounds and Jonathan Lucas added 12 points and 12 assists for Cleveland (4-10 Queens I-A).
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.