Cardozo upset puts spring back in Edison’s step

When Thomas Edison’s eighth league game of the year came to a close, the regular season was 45 percent complete. Not much went according to plan for the defending Queens champions during that stretch. Everything except for the final leg, of course.
Carrying a mediocre 4-3 mark into Cardozo, the Inventors went from the bunch that had lost by four points or less three times to a possible feel-good story of perseverance.
Edison shocked Cardozo, 64-63 in overtime, last Thursday afternoon, becoming the second team in as many weeks to leave the Oakland Gardens gym victorious. The Judges, conversely, had not previously lost to a league opponent during the regular season since falling to Hillcrest in January 2001.
The Inventors celebrated the gritty victory as they did last March’s borough crown, hugging and high-fiving one another at center court. Coach John Ulmer embraced several of his starters.
“Awesome,” he said of the performance. “This is what we needed to spark us, a big win against a great team.”
It was a frustrating first month in Queens AA for Edison. Besides the league losses, Robeson, Thurgood Marshall Academy and Cardinal Hayes had also humbled them. Turnover prone, the Inventors were giving away games, lacking focus and uncharacteristically inept from the perimeter.
“We’ve been playing horrible,” junior point guard Stephon Hodges admitted.
Although they returned four starters - guards Allan Thomas and Hodges and forwards Presano Bell and Arthur Abbensett - the alignment was different. Bell moved to center and Abbensett was in the post instead of his natural wing spot. Newcomers such as Osamuede Egharevba and Jarick Duncan were being working into the lineup.
A few weeks ago, Edison caught a break. Talented junior Isiah Stokley left Martin Van Buren after an incident and landed at the Jamaica Estates school. A talented 6-foot-3 guard, he has scored in double figures in three of four games. In the Cardozo victory, he figured prominently, scoring 14 points, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out six assists.
“He came at the right time,” Thomas said.
Stokley was not the only difference in the win over Cardozo. On the sideline, Rob Diaz, who runs the formidable NYC Finest AAU basketball program, was Ulmer’s assistant coach. He came aboard after the Inventors’ disappointing 66-64 home loss to Bayside December 4. Previously, Ulmer had no help on the bench.
“It’s being a set of extra eyes and ears for him,” Diaz said. “There are things as a head coach you are not able to keep track of.”
The emotional victory over Cardozo was the boost the Inventors were in search of. When Ulmer passed Hodges in the hallway early in the day, he confidently told the coach, “We got this one.”
It moves them to within a game in the loss column of Bayside, Forest Hills and Cardozo for second place. Catching 8-0 Campus Magnet is a long shot, but beating the Judges is a step in the right direction and, most importantly, proof the Inventors can beat anyone.

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