By Zach Braziller
From her wild yet successful forays to the hoop to her bold proclamation, Jazmine Hamlet lived up to the “lunatic” nickname Francis Lewis Coach Steve Tsai has bestowed upon her.
Sometimes the serene coach isn’t so fond of Hamlet’s at times out-of-control ways, but Saturday afternoon they helped No. 6 Francis Lewis upset third-seeded Truman 47-34 in the PSAL Class A girls’ basketball quarterfinals at Hunter College.
Hamlet scored 13 points, including a pair of difficult layups that put Truman away — the kind of shots that earned the nickname. With Lewis ahead 39-32 midway through the fourth quarter and looking to kill time, Hamlet took on a pair of defenders and somehow dropped in a scoop shot as she hit the floor. Moments later, she got to the rebound of a Tyese Purvis miss and tossed in the follow as she hit the deck again.
“We needed those types of clutch plays,” said Purvis, who also had 13 points. “I love her aggressiveness. It gets our team hyped. We get excited. It keeps the energy up.”
Purvis scored 13 points for Lewis and Jasmine Davis added 11. Daquana Smith led Truman (20-7) with 12 points.
Tsai wanted the Patriots to milk the clock — not take difficult and contested shots — but when Hamlet converted, his frown turned into a smile. It was that kind of afternoon for Lewis, which lost a pair of regular-season contests to Truman but turned the tables to reach the final four for the second consecutive season.
“I’m just proud of these girls, they deserve it,” Tsai said. “At the end of the season, we’ve really come together.”
It learned a great deal from those setbacks. For one, the Patriots knew the way to beat Truman was by limiting star Krystal Pearson and not allowing transition opportunities. They focused on Pearson, a senior with Division I offers who managed just nine points, and got back on defense as fast as possible.
After a sluggish first half on the offensive end — Tsai felt his team played selfishly — Lewis broke out with a 30-point second half. The key was ball movement and finding the open teammate. There were possessions of double-digit passes and wide-open shots, giving Truman’s trouble.
“We’re finally running our offense,” Hamlet said. “It’s about being unselfish, looking for the right shot, the right pass.”
Feeling confident with the victory and Lewis’ success during the regular season against Bergtraum, Hamlet said she feels it’s time the Lady Blazers’ 13-year reign atop the city comes to an end. And the Patriots, she said, are just the team to make it happen as they beat Bergtraum once during the year and lost the other matchup by a point.
“It’s about time they get out of here,” Hamlet said, flashing a wry grin. “It’s time for anybody else to take it.”