By Joseph Staszewski
Benjamin Cardozo’s ultimate goal is their second city championship in three years, but that doesn’t mean the senior-laden group doesn’t want to pick up a few other things along the way.
“The one game in March we wanted we didn’t get,” Cardozo boys’ basketball coach Ron Naclerio said about last season’s campaign. “We got a lot of stuff in January last year, but they’re telling me they’d like to get a little of everything and a lot of everything.”
The road to March and the highlights of the Judges’ schedule are in a loaded January that began with an 86-63 tune-up win over Gompers at the Cardozo Classic Jan. 2 after going two weeks without a game
What follows around Cordozo’s league games is not only a chance to rack up some signature wins, but also to get some exposure for its unsigned seniors. There is a Jan. 16 date with Friendship Academy (Washington, D.C.) in the Big Apple Basketball Invitational at Baruch College. Six days later, three-time defending CHSAA intersectional champion Christ the King visits Oakland Gardens on Jan. 22. Before the month ends the Judges face upstate power Mount Vernon on Jan. 29 in the first game of the SNY Invitational at CCNY. The Judges won the tournament last year. Another date with the Royals could follow in the final or consolation game.
“We already new it was a big month,” Monmouth-bound guard Rashond Salnave said. “It’s the biggest month since last year in January.”
This is when Cardozo can prove it truly belongs among the city’s elite clubs and stake its claim to being its best squad. “When we play together I think we are the best team in the city.” Salnave said.
Salnave, Aaron Walker and Tareq Coburn are as good as any backcourt in the area. The trio combined for 57 of the team’s 86 points against Gompers. In addition to testing the three of them, the January stretch will also show if Cardozo’s supporting cast of Jade Tse, Amir Tutt, Amiri White and Amorri Walters can excel under the bright lights as other have in the past.
“All the seniors now have to prove that they deserve to be out there, not only prove it to the coaches on the staff, but college coaches,” Salnave said. “Prove that you belong here and make a name for yourself.”
Cardozo worked out some of the kinks against a Gompers team that is tied for second in the Bronx AA division. It led 42-33 at the half before breaking things open after the break. Naclerio said it was plain to see there was rust mentally and physically.
There can be no more lapses or letdowns, and slow starts need to be kept to a minimum if January is going to be the month Cardozo envisions it can be. The Judges have a few other goals to accomplish before reaching the big one in March.