By Joseph Staszewski
Benjamin Cardozo has suffered through many slow starts this season, but Saturday night against Friendship Charter was nothing of the sort.
The Judges boys’ basketball team stormed out of the gates, never looking back from a big first quarter as they racked up a 70-52 win over the Washington, D.C. school at the Big Apple Basketball Invitational at Baruch College.
“We should have played like this a long time ago,” Monmouth-bound guard Rashond Salnave said. It shouldn’t take big games for us to realize how we have to come out and play, because there just might be that one day we just can’t decide to turn it on.”
Salnave scored a game-high 25 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out five assists. Aaron Walker just missed a triple double with 12 points, 10 defensive rebounds and eight assists. Tahiyr Vines dropped in 11 of his 14 points in the first half, connected on three treys and grabbed six boards in his best performance of the season.
“My teammates were looking for me and I just took advantage of the opportunities they gave me,” Vines said.
Cardozo connected on four three-points in the first quarter and ended the frame on a 13-2 run. A three-point play by Salnave put his team up 26-13 with 26 seconds left in the first.
The Judges, who shot 55.6 percent from the field and made six treys in the first half, built off it going into halftime, as their hot shooting continued. Tareq Coburn connected on a three and Aaron Walker had a transition dunk to cap a 7-1 spurt that put Cardozo up 38-20 at the break. A comfortable lead at the half was refreshing.
“This was really one of the rare times this happened,” Vines said. “It felt good because we were all playing together, giving it to the open man and looking for each other.”
Friendship Charter got as close as 44-35 on a three-pointer by Alani Moore early in the fourth quarter, but Cardozo quickly responded. Vines found Amiri White for a layup and Walker followed with a fast-break slam.
The Judges went up by 20 points on a left-corner three-pointer from Vines off a feed from Salnave with 2:20 to play in the game. Walker’s poise allowed the Cardozo to fend off Friendship Charter’s advances.
“Aaron did a lot of the little things we ask him to do all season,” Salnave said
Amari White chipped in 10 points for Dozo. Tareq Coburn helped hold Friendship Academy star point guard Alani Moore to just 14 points.
The victory kept the Judges (16-0) undefeated going into two league games this week before a meeting with borough rival Christ the King 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Cardozo. The Royals beat them in Middle Village and in the state Federation semifinals two years ago.
“This is definitely big,” Vines said. “That gives us momentum and confidence for the next two games.”