They needed overtime to clinch it, but Cardozo defeated Forest Hills 73-67 in Flushing on Friday, January 8.
Senior forward Ryan Rhoomes netted 21 points, leading all scorers, as the Judges erased last year’s disappointing loss to the Rangers in the Queens borough title game.
“They were good, but not as good as last year,” said Rhoomes. “Right now, we’re better than them physically and mentally.”
Though confident, the victory did not come easy for Rhoomes or his teammates. They struggled to put the Rangers away for good in the fourth quarter, allowing them to tie the game on two free throws after senior guard Malcolm Brooks fouled Forest Hills sophomore Rudolph Collins with seven seconds left.
Both teams struggled with sloppy play in a foul-filled overtime, leading to near coronaries for both coaches on the sideline.
However, once the Judges took the lead, they never relinquished it. Junior Chris Gayot made sure of that by sinking five free throws in overtime, including two to ice the game with 13 seconds remaining.
The hard-earned victory satisfied coach Ron Naclerio, who spent the game charging up and down the sideline, firing encouragement and, at times, wincing in frustration.
“We didn’t close them out when we should’ve,” said Naclerio after the game, “but I’m proud of my boys.”
Junior forward Maurice Harkless led the Rangers by scoring 15 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, but had to sit out much of the overtime with cramping.
With their win over Forest Hills, the Judges improved to 8-0 in the Public School Athletic League’s (PSAL) Queens AA division. They are now the lone undefeated team, while the Rangers dropped to 6-1.
For Rhoomes, the win over their rivals sent a message that his team has matured and deserves respect throughout the city.
“Our target this year was Forest Hills,” he said. “We sent a message tonight that we’re the No. 1 team in Queens.”