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All Queens girls’ hoops

Christ the King senior forward Tahira Johnson was a double-double waiting to happen, intense on defense and the Royals’ most consistent player this season. Photo by Damion Reid/Five Boro Sports
By Five Boro Sports

Queens might be the deepest borough in the city. There’s very little fall-off between the first team and the third team — you could almost pick the names out of a hat. Christ the King, Archbishop Molloy and Mary Louis are all in the tough CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens division and play good schedules.

Christ the King got back its Brooklyn/Queens title, but it was a strange, drama-filled season in the borough. Molloy had to adjust to losing star guard Kelly Robinson to a transfer and a new coach in Tom Catalanotto. Mary Louis also had a coaching change: Kevin White took over after Joe Lewinger stepped down to spend more time with his young twins, who are battling cancer. Longtime Francis Lewis Coach Mike Eisenberg was reassigned after allegedly verbally abusing a student in his gym class and Steve Tsai, a school guidance counselor, took over the program.

QUEENS GIRLS’ BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Tahira Johnson, Christ the King

Johnson played through severe shin splints most of the season and brought a relentless toughness that usually went unmatched. The South Florida-bound senior, was the squad’s vocal leader. She dominated in the paint usually jumping over, around and through opponents for second and third rebounds to ignite fast breaks or score backbreaking put-backs. She was the most consistent player all season for Christ the King, which reclaimed the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan title and was certainly missed in the team’s season-ending loss to St. Michael Academy, after leaving in warm-ups with a knee injury.

QUEENS GIRLS’ BASKETBALL COACH OF THE YEAR

Ed Flood, St. John’s Prep

St. John’s Prep had a season to remember, going undefeated in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division II, claiming its first diocesan championship since 1998 before losing to upstart Aquinas in the CHSAA Class B state semifinals. Flood’s even hand and calm demeanor helped carry the Red Storm through the scares — a tight one at home to St. Edmund on the final day of the regular season and a charging Bishop Loughlin team in the Division II final — to their almost unblemished record.

ALL-QUEENS FIRST TEAM

G Karin Robinson, Mary Louis

Robinson stepped up when her team needed her most, especially down the stretch and through its playoff run. She was, many times, the only scorer in double figures for the Hilltoppers. Robinson scored 14 of TMLA’s 24 first-half points against Archbishop Molloy in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens semifinal; dropped in 25, including 15 in the second half versus Christ the King in the final; and had 14 points in the Hilltoppers’ season-ending loss to St. Peter’s. The lightning-quick sophomore emerged as one of the best young players in the city.

G Kelly Robinson, Francis Lewis

The junior embodied the phrase “true point guard” in her first season at Francis Lewis after transferring from Archbishop Molloy. Robinson led all of PSAL Class AA in assists and scored when she needed to for the Patriots. She was a calming presence despite the adversity at Lewis this season, with longtime Coach Mike Eisenberg being reassigned. She was certainly missed at Molloy and Robinson should be one of the top point guards in the city next season.

G Krystina Agard, August Martin

No ‘AA’ player in the city did as much with as little as Agard. August Martin lost starters Patrice Lewis and Tinamarie Sasser to academic ineligibility and Tenille Smallwood to injury before the season started. Agard and sophomore guard Starasia Lawley had to carry the Falcons on their back and Agard led the way, scoring 27.4 points per game. Martin was able to knock off Francis Lewis and Midwood this season and, with Lawley suspended in the second round of the PSAL Class AA playoffs, Agard went off for 35 points against Lewis in a losing effort.

G Bria Smith, Christ the King

Bria Smith can be absolutely dazzling at times and when her jump shot is working, she is nearly impossible to guard. Such was the case when she scored a career-high 40 points in a regular-season win at Mary Louis. Smith, who is electric in transition, scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds to help lead Christ the King to the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan crown, one then meant so much to the sophomore after the Royals had their 23-year streak of titles snapped by Archbishop Molloy last year.

F Nicole Marciniak, Archbishop Molloy

Marciniak was a beast all season. The C.W. Post-bound forward dominated games on the glass nearly every night, willing her way to consistent double-doubles, including an 18-point and 19-rebound performance against Amsterdam (N.Y.) at the John F. Kennedy Classic. Her emotional leadership and ability to convert both easy and sometimes acrobatic putbacks and get to the free-throw line helped the Stanners weather many offensive droughts.

ALL-QUEENS SECOND TEAM

G Shannon LaVelle, Archbishop Molloy

Sometimes it’s hard to notice how important LaVelle really was. She isn’t a big-time scorer who can dominate a game, but if you need a big shot or a big play, you turn to her. The Dominican College-bound guard connected on numerous late and clutch three-pointers for the Stanners and was their defensive stopper. She held Mary Louis’ Amanda Burakoski to just seven points in a must-win game on the final day of the regular season.

G Amanda Burakoski, Mary Louis

There were flashes of brilliance for Burakoski this season, like a 36-point night while sick against Christ the King and a 23-point, 15-rebound performance against Bishop Ford. The St. John’s-bound guard lacked consistency this season, though, deferring to her teammates to a fault at times. The sharpshooter and superb passer would still make key shots and plays down the stretch, but was neutralized often during the playoffs.

G Kelly Guerriero, Archbishop Molloy

There might not be a better long-range shooter in the city. When right, the junior was almost automatic from downtown. She’s adept at coming off screens and moving without the ball on offense.

F Nia Oden, Christ the King

Christ the King Coach Bob Mackey could keep Oden out of the starting lineup as much as he wanted to, liking her energy off the bench. The sophomore played just too well, though, giving the Royals a super athletic, smart and intangible player, who could have a double-double on any given night and come up with key plays. Her future is bright.

F Ariel Edwards, Christ the King

Edwards is a guard in a forward’s body, making her an extremely tough match-up for many teams. She can beat you on the block, finish in transition and knock down the short jumper. The junior also showed her toughness with 12 points and 12 rebounds after Tahira Johnson could not go in the Royals’ loss to St. Michael Academy in the CHSAA Class AA state tournament quarterfinals. The Elmont transfer should benefit from her first season in tough CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens and be a star at CK next year.

ALL-QUEENS THIRD TEAM

G Marielle Duryea, Archbishop Molloy

For all of the Stanners’ inconsistency this season, Duryea was always steady. She was never flashy, but she always got the job done, breaking presses and running the offense. The ball was almost always safe in her hands and there might not be a better free-throw shooter in New York City.

G Geleisa George, Christ the King

George, who heads to American next fall, played out of position all season having to man the point for the Royals. She adapted well to the role, became a sure ball-handler and, as the season went on, was fun to watch leading the break. George gave CK an outside shooting threat at times and a defender who was always eager to take a charge.

G Tatiana Wilson, Francis Lewis

Coming into the season, all everyone wanted to talk about was Francis Lewis’ three transfers: Kelly Robinson, Sabrina Jeridore and Ayana Duncanson. Wilson, a sophomore, made sure people didn’t forget about her. She was one of the Patriots’ most consistent players and absolutely fearless driving to the basket. Wilson also improved her three-point shot exponentially. She was a real threat from beyond the arc.

F Kyra Aloizos, Archbishop Molloy

At her best, the junior was Molloy’s most versatile offensive threat. At 6-foot-2 with tremendous strength, Aloizos could bang down low with any player in the city. But she could also step out and hit the 15-foot jumper better than most big girls around. Aloizos should step up and be one of Molloy’s stars next season.

C Sabrina Jeridore, Francis Lewis

The 6-foot-3 true center has some of the best offensive post moves in the city. Jeridore is extremely polished down low and uses her size well. She struggled at times this year, though, with nagging knee injuries. And, like the rest of Lewis, which went through plenty of adversity this year, was prone to inconsistency. Look out for the Bayonne (N.J.) transfer next year with a PSAL season under her belt. Jeridore is a sure-fire mid-to-high Division I player.

ALL-QUEENS HONORABLE MENTION

G Starasia Lawley, August Martin

G Jenna Halaby, St. Francis Prep

G Aliya Donn, St. Francis Prep

G Lashonda Hathorne, St. John’s Prep

G CiCi Palmer, Cardozo

F Ayana Duncanson, Francis Lewis

F Jade Medley, Cardozo

F Shanade Bernard, Queens HS of Teaching

F Raquel Gutierrez, Academy of American Studies

F Avis Benjamin, Mary Louis

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