Leading off today:
Beginners luck? Hardly. University Prep
may by a first-year varsity basketball team, but the Griffins proved to be no fluke Saturday by beating Fillmore 77-67 for the Section 5 boys Class D1 championship.
U-Prep's roster consists of eighth-, ninth- and 10th-grade students as the charter school ramps up to a full-fledged junior high and high school. Next year's enrollment will move the basketball team up to Class B.
The Griffins fell behind by 12 points in the first half but didn't lose their composure.
“They’re too young to know any better,” coach Raheem Miller joked.
U-Prep stumbled late in regulation to allow Fillmore -- which survived most of the season with just seven players -- to force overtime, but eighth-grader Marique Simkin finished off a tournament MVP performance with a 23-point effort.
Freshman Brandon Hunt added 20 points and sophomore Cameron Myles scored 17.
To reach the state quarterfinals, U-Prep will have to score its third straight victory over C.G. Finney on Tuesday.
Another small wonder: Brandon Tate scored 20 points for Palisade Prep as the Phoenix extended their third year of existence by downing top-seeded Children’s Village 79-57 in the Section 1 Class C final.
Three years ago, Palisade Prep reached the final in its first varsity season with three freshmen and four sophomores, all of whom played Saturday.
“It’s very rewarding,” Isaiah Ward said after scoring 17 points. “We worked very hard.”
Children’s Village saw its game plan complicated by the recent discharge of one of its top players, junior Kareem Padgett, The Journal News reported.
PSAL update: FIU-bound senior Jaquan Lynch scored all 12 of his points after the third quarter as Thomas Jefferson avoided disaster with a 64-60 PSAL quarterfinal win in overtime over Cardozo. Senior Nazai Stokes paced the winners with 20 points.
“My coach said, ‘You’re a senior. You’ve been here three years making shots. Don’t stop now,’” Lynch said. “After that my jump shot just started clicking.”
Second-seeded Jefferson advances to play No. 3 Curtis, which eliminated Bayside 61-55. Curtis led by 15 until Bayside closed out the game on a 9-0 run.