It’s Miller Time For Harvard: Berkeley Carroll senior pitcher commits to Crimson

One of the most exciting decisions in high school is choosing a college. For Berkeley Carroll senior pitcher Ian Miller, that choice is one he’ll remember forever. After a long and difficult process, he has verbally committed to Harvard. Before selecting the Crimson, he had a host of other top schools on his list including Ivy League suitors Princeton, Yale and Dartmouth. He was also scheduled to visit Davidson and Holy Cross. Not a bad list to pick from. Following his senior year, he’ll play for Harvard baseball coach Bill Decker.

The 17-year old Miller has been a standout under Lions coach Walter Paller. In 2013, he led the Park Slope school to a perfect regular season record and the top seed in the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) Playoffs. Even though the team fell short against Brooklyn nemesis Poly Prep in the semis last Spring, it was another successful year under Paller. The proud coach of a rising baseball program in New York also runs Academic Prospects Baseball. A group of 17 and 18-year old baseball student athletes who have the opportunity to improve their skills in the classroom and on the field. Paller’s staff is devoted to helping prepare them for the next level.

Recent Berkeley Carroll graduate Anthony Spina took the next step in his journey beginning classes at Amherst. Other notable AP graduates include Lukas Marble (Middlebury), Lucas Schwartz (Kenyon), Craig Batchelor (Lawrence U), Dylan Long (Bard), Avery Perez (Ursinus), Matt Aronowitz (Quinnipiac), Noah Matthews (Grinnell), Gus Morales, Jr. (St. John’s Fisher), Phil Maldari (Emory), Robert Graham (Skidmore) and Sam Grumet (Bard). They all have the chance to learn and excel thanks to hard work and dedication.

For Miller, he gets one more year under Paller before moving on to the next phase. From Berkeley Carroll crimson red to Harvard crimson red. Not a bad combo.

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Berkeley Carroll JV ousts Academy to reach Final

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS, BK-In the first game of the day, it was a happier scene for Berkeley Carroll. The Junior Varsity boys posted a hard fought 67-55 semifinal win over Staten Island Academy to reach the ACIS Final. They’ll take on Packer for the championship later today at 4 PM. It’ll be another unusual circumstance with the top seeded Lions the home team trying to repeat at Packer Collegiate’s gym.

The Lions got it done thanks in large part to a great start. As they have most of the season, the Park Slope school took advantage of some sluggish play from the Tigers. Sophomore forward Danny McCormick paced coach Stephen Galimidi’s with a double/double. Many of his 22 came during a wild fourth quarter that saw Berkeley Carroll nearly blow a 19-point lead. To their credit, Staten Island Academy cut the deficit to nine before a McCormick transition bucket restored order.

McCormick is one of two members of last year’s team that won the league. Teammate Eugene Clark (14) is the other. He and McCormick combined for over half the Lions’ total. The two bigs did it exclusively inside the paint- taking advantage of their size. Both hurt the undersized Tigers on the glass. Galimidi got valuable minutes from freshman Steven Colon. With McCormick on the sidelines with four fouls, Colon stepped up defensively. He delivered his best game at a crucial time. It was his three that put Berkeley Carroll up 62-43 halfway through the final quarter.

A gritty Academy never went away. They kept fighting. Using a press, a 10-1 spurt suddenly made it a game with under two minutes left. However, the Lions remained poised. With McCormick back in the game, some quick passing allowed them to find him for an easy deuce. It wasn’t the best performance. They’ll have to be better against Packer. The Lions split with the Pelicans during the regular season. That included a frantic finish over a week ago with Berkeley Carroll holding off their closest rival by a point. It’ll take their best effort to deliver a second consecutive JV championship.

Point guard Davis Conger set up teammates with lightning passes. The freshman boasts great vision for a newcomer. Teammates Christian Denis and Jacob Justh played spunky games on both ends. Denis didn’t do much scoring-wise but did the little things right. Along with Justh, he played strong defense and distributed the ball. Oliver Watson had a solid overall game off the bench. His versatility has allowed Galimidi flexibility.

It didn’t come easy. The Tigers made their share of three-pointers and led by as much as five in the first half. Eventually, the Lions slowly turned it around- finishing the second stanza strong to take the lead. They opened it up early after the break- threatening to blow the Tigers out of the gym. But Staten Island Academy fought till the final buzzer.

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Lions lose heart breaker to Friends Seminary in ACIS Semis

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS, NY-It ended in heart break for the Berkeley Carroll School. In a pulsating ACIS Semifinal played at Packer Collegiate, the Lions fell one point short against Friends Seminary by a score of 50-49. Unfortunately, there had to be a loser. The three total games were decided by five points.

The rubber match between league rivals went down to the wire once again. One final stop from Friends Seminary sent them into jubilation. They earned a second consecutive trip to the ACIS Final against defending champ Packer. In the other semifinal, Packer edged Staten Island Academy 56-53 to advance to the rematch that’ll be played Monday at 6 PM. It’ll follow the JV championship between Berkeley Carroll and Packer (4 PM).

It was a bitter pill to swallow for coach Carmine Giovino’s Lions. Despite struggling offensively, they fought valiantly. Freshman center Jimmy Council carried them throughout. He scored a team high 22 points and was a terror on the offensive glass. It was his last two buckets that turned a five-point contest into one point with under 15 seconds left. With Friends Seminary clinging to a 50-49 lead, the Lions quickly fouled. Following a miss on the front end of a one-on-one, Shaun Hicks (8) raced up court and called for time with nine seconds remaining.

Giovino drew up a final play that was supposed to go to Shane Pearley (5). However, the ball was in-bounded to Hicks. He proceeded to drive and pulled up from 17 feet. But a swarm of Friends Seminary defenders got a piece of it, deflecting the ball out of harm’s way. One desperate scramble was too late, sending Friends Seminary into bedlam. They earned the victory with tenacious defense and timely buckets.

The Manhattan school hurt the Lions from the perimeter and on the boards. That combination allowed them to overcome a 10-point first half deficit. Unlike the last meeting they took in Park Slope, Berkeley Carroll got out of the gate fast. A 7-3 spurt was highlighted by the inside play of Council along with an early trey from Pearley. Friends Seminary took advantage of second and third chances to stay within reach. 

Berkeley Carroll got a nice boost from sophomore starter Chris Harper. He scored seven of his eight in the first quarter and also set up Hicks for a hoop in the paint. Harper nailed a triple from the corner and also was assertive. His aggressiveness led to him converting four free throws. Council chipped in with six. The Lions led 20-14 after one.

In the second stanza, the Park Slope school continued their momentum. A 5-1 run allowed them to go ahead 25-15 at the six-minute mark. That included a Council three-point play. Not only did he do a good job finishing but also was accurate from the line.

Friends Seminary responded to the adversity well. They closed the half on an 16-4 run to take a 31-29 lead. Predictably, they did it with deadly shooting. Of their 17 second quarter points, 15 came on three’s, including four from Peyton. He scored all 12 to turn the tide including one that went glass. Three straight treys put Friends Seminary down by two (27-25). It was part of a 9-2 spurt. During the turn around, they got after it defensively- forcing the Lions into some bad shots. The Lions also were sloppy, turning the ball over. They didn’t execute the final part of the half, which proved costly.

Berkeley Carroll still had a chance to reestablish momentum. However, they didn’t score on their final possession. Instead, the Lions allowed their pesky opponent to transition up court. Peyton drilled a deep three from the left key before the buzzer, prompting a strong response from teammates. The stunning reversal took Berkeley Carroll by surprise. They led virtually the entire half.

A 6-4 opening to the third quarter tied it at 35 apiece. However, Friends Seminary scored the next five. Leading scorer Cook (18) got it going. He scored more than half his total in the second half. The diminutive guard got into the paint and got to the line. He also drew two critical fouls on Pearley, who went to the bench with four. It forced Giovino to go to senior Dondre Benson. Benson filled in admirably. He hit from 18 feet and played solid defense while involving teammates. That included one of two from the charity stripe from junior Josiah Murrell. Of the Lions’ 10 in the third, Council scored half. Pearley got the other two. They stayed within range, trailing 43-39 entering the fourth.

If there was a noticeable difference from the first half to the second, it was each team picking up the defensive intensity. Both sides wanted it very badly. Giovino pleaded with his guys to tighten up the screws in crunch time. They held Friends Seminary to seven points in the final period. However, offense was at a premium in easily the most competitive quarter of a dozen between the two ACIS league rivals. Berkeley Carroll managed 10. It came down to a couple of plays late.

With Pearley starting the fourth on the bench, Giovino stuck sophomore Richie Palacios at the point. The moved paid dividends when he drilled a triple from the right corner to bring Berkeley Carroll within 43-42. The score didn’t change for a couple of minutes. Each team went cold. Defense took over along with the pressure to win. Cook came through for Friends Seminary, scoring five of their seven. That included a dagger off a screen. Trailing by six, Council scored on a put back to inch the Lions closer. They trailed 48-45 with under two minutes to go.

The biggest basket of the game came off another offensive rebound. Following a Friends miss, Andrew reached over and laid it in off the glass, increasing to 50-45. Undeterred, Council scored inside to draw within three with over a minute left. Berkeley Carroll got it back after a stop. Council got to a loose ball underneath and put it home for his 21st and 22nd points. They put Andrew on the line. He misfired, giving them the chance for the win. Hicks’ try never made it.


Lions To Claw With Tigers In NYSAIS Quarters: Although it was a tough ending to their league, Berkeley Carroll’s season isn’t done yet. They will take part in the New York State Tournament later this week. They’ll see a familiar foe in the quarterfinals. The higher seeded Lions face the Staten Island Academy Tigers in Todt Hill Thursday.

SIA gets to host due to a bigger court. The Lions will be the home team. The Verrazano rivals split the season series with the Lions winning the first meeting in Park Slope while the Tigers took the rematch in Staten Island. The winner gets bragging rights along with a trip to the State semis.

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Top seeded Berkeley Carroll JV Move On

PARK SLOPE, BK-With a strong regular season behind them, it didn’t take long for the Berkeley Carroll Junior Varsity Boys to get going in their home quarterfinal. They scored the first 10 points en route to a 67-34 win over Leman Prep at the Lions’ Den in Park Slope. The top seeded Lions are looking to repeat as ACIS champs. They’re into the semis, which will be played Saturday at Packer.

Eight different players scored for first-year coach Stephen Galimidi and co-coach Oscar Pagoda. Sharp from the outset, the high flying Lions scored in transition off their press. Sophomore center Eugene Clark had two steals for lay-ins on his way to 14 (7 FG). He had four steals. Freshman guard Davis Conger scored twice off nice passes from teammates Christian Denis and Jake Justh. Denis had two points and three assists while Justh chipped in with seven on a trey, two and a pair of freebies.

Berkeley Carroll outscored Leman Prep 22-7 in the first quarter. They spread the ball around. Sophomore forward Danny McCormick led everyone with 19 (9 FG + FT). That included a half dozen early on. Freshman forward Oliver Watson came off the bench for 12 on six field goals. The Lions attacked the basket. They also cashed in on eight turnovers from Leman Prep.

Galimidi started his second unit in the second stanza. They had six before the starters returned. Liam Fuerst hit two free throws. Elias Contrubis scored on a driving bank shot and Watson connected on a baseline jumper. Predictably, the quarter was lower scoring with Berkeley Carroll still holding a slight edge 12-8 to take a 34-15 lead into halftime.

The onslaught continued. Conger (9) put on a passing clinic, handing out four assists in the third period. He dropped eight dimes, including a nice head man pass to set up McCormick, who converted a three-point play. McCormick did most of his damage in the third, tallying 11 of his 19. It was exclusively inside the paint where he used a size edge to finish and rebound. Running mate Clark added four. One was a textbook post move while the other came off another steal. He also added a block for good measure.

Leman Prep was led by sophomore Kelvin Salgado (17) and eighth grader Jacob Passick (11). Salgado scored a dozen after the break, doing the bulk of it inside while Passick dialed up long distance twice and dished out three assists.

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Strong Second Half Helps Lions Advance To Semis

PARK SLOPE, BK-In the playoffs, anything can happen. Regular season doesn’t matter. For a half, the Berkeley Carroll School struggled with close rival St. Ann’s. They swept them during the season. Beating the same opponent three times takes a little extra. The Lions used a strong second half to turn back the Steamers 75-59 at the Lions’ Den in Brooklyn- advancing to the ACIS Semifinals on Saturday at Packer. The third seeded Lions will meet No.2 Friends Seminary at a time to be determined.

In the mean time, Berkeley Carroll took the first step. They were led by sophomore forward Shawn Hicks, who paced everyone with 28 points (11 field goals) and 11 rebounds. Junior guard Shane Pearley scored 11 of his 18 after intermission. He also added seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. Freshman center Jimmy Council was the third Lion to reach double digits, contributing 12 (6 FG) and grabbing 10 boards for a double/double.

It didn’t come easy for coach Carmine Giovino’s young squad. After jumping out to a 5-0 lead highlighted by early buckets from Hicks and Council, they gave up two consecutive three-pointers to Dylan Lowther. He scored 10 in the first half, also connecting on a third triple later. Trailing by a point, the Lions responded with a 9-0 run to jump in front 14-6. Sophomore Chris Harper had a nice dish for a Pearley hoop. He scored three from the line in the first quarter. Four different Lions scored, including Council who scored inside twice. He and Hicks (7) crashed the offensive glass.

St. Ann’s concluded the first by outscoring Berkeley Carroll 7-4 to close within 18-13. They took advantage of an early technical on junior Josiah Murrell, who was whistled for a hard foul. It seemed to stun the Lions, who played an uneven half. The Steamers outhustled Berkeley Carroll to loose balls. They cashed in on second and third chances. Junior Connor Warnick had a solid game finishing with 14. He scored eight before halftime mostly on mid-range jumpers off screens while connecting twice from the charity stripe.

The teams played a choppy second. That included sloppy turnovers and a more deliberate pace which favored St. Ann’s. Giovino went to Dondre Benson (2) with Murrell saddled with three fouls. The senior captain gave his team a lift. Without junior stopper Will Reagan (concussion), the Lion coach stuck mostly with an eight man rotation. He worked in freshman Ryan Hobbs (6) and sophomore Richie Palacios (4).

Ironically, Berkeley Carroll took advantage of a technical to build a seven-point lead (28-21). However, they couldn’t break away from pesky St. Ann’s, which scored the next five to make it a two-point contest. Lowther drained his third trey from the right key and a put back suddenly pulled them within 28-26 with two minutes left in the half. With Hicks (10 in 2nd) and Pearley (5) carrying the offense, the Lions used a 5-0 spurt to take a seven-point lead (33-26) into the locker room. Pearley scored off a steal and split a pair of free throws and Hicks scored off a second chance to give the hosts a little breathing room.

Having looked lethargic, a fired up Giovino had his team on its toes following the break. Playing more aggressively on both ends, the Lions scored seven of the first 10 in the second half. It was highlighted by a three-point play from Pearley. However, St. Ann’s came right back with a three-point play of their own from junior Tim Seckin off an offensive rebound. The Lions got the next four on a Pearley tip in and a Harper scoop to the hoop, increasing to 40-29.

Pearley was just getting warmed up. He scored half his 18 in the third. That included consecutive buckets off steals to push Berkeley Carroll’s advantage to 14. But Seckin kept the Steamers within striking distance. He scored nine of their 12. Seckin netted 19 of a team high 23 after intermission. He did it mostly in transition by taking advantage of some lazy passes from the Lions. Four straight points put St. Ann’s down 10 (48-38) with 1:04 left. However, the Lions concluded the stanza with a 5-0 run highlighted by a Hicks three-point play. They took a 53-38 lead into the fourth.

Berkeley Carroll was never threatened again. In particular, Benson did a nice job finding teammates for scores. He dropped four dimes to go with a 17-footer that drew cheers from the home crowd in what was the final game at the Berkeley Carroll Athletic Center. The good news is it’s not over yet. Hicks had the highlight of the game, taking a pass for a breakaway jam to put the Lions comfortably ahead by 21 (59-38).

More satisfied with his team’s effort, Giovino brought in Jasper Kitchen. Not surprisingly, he scored off a second effort. Andrew Colon and Zach Llewlyn also saw time. Palacios scored his four in the period on a finish and two free throws.

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Berkeley Carroll hosts ACIS quarterfinals

STATEN ISLAND, NY-This is what you play for all season. To make your league playoffs and have an opportunity to do something. For both the Berkeley Carroll Junior Varsity and Varsity Boys hoops teams, it’s a chance to take the first step today. Each hosts an ACIS quarterfinal on their home floor at the Lions’ Den in Park Slope.

Both teams had good years. With a two-point win over Packer last Friday, Stephen Galimidi’s JV earned the top seed. Now, it’s time for his young chargers to prove why. They take on Leman Prep at 4:15 PM. It’s been a team effort all winter for the Lions, who lost only two games in the league. With a well balanced starting five led by championship returnees Danny McCormack and Eugene Clark, the Lions can score inside and out. They also boast freshman point guard Davis Conger, who is a heady player that involves teammates and plays aggressive defense. Teammates Jake Just and Christian Denis are solid players who hustle and are assertive. Galimidi also has Sixth Man Oliver Watson in his arsenal. Watson has played a key role- supplying energy and versatility when McCormack or Clark get in foul trouble.

They might need someone else to step up. Sunny Birdi  and Stephen Colon are capable. Elias Contrubis and Liam Fuerst also supply Galimidi with depth. He’s went to his bench all year. It’ll be interesting to see how they’re used during the league playoffs.

For Carmine Giovino’s Varsity, they’ve had a strong year. The Lions finished third in the league. Despite only boasting two seniors with one out the entire year (Josh Rosas), a young squad has a chance to make a statement. Dondre Benson’s been an integral part of the Berkeley Carroll program for four years. This is his last opportunity to go out big. It’s always been about winning for the versatile guard, who’s played whatever role Giovino threw his way. A former starter, he’s come off a deep bench and given a yeoman effort for this team. Perhaps he’s got a couple of big plays in him.

The Lions boast a well balanced attack led by junior Shane Pearley. Already in his fourth year, the athletic guard is a tireless defender who can explode offensively when his team needs it. Pearley has played an unselfish role, sharing the ball with sophomore Shawn Hicks and freshman Jimmy Council. Each has provided Berkeley Carroll with inside and outside threats who can attack the basket. They both are solid defensively. If there is one area the team must improve upon, it’s rebounding. In a 19-point loss to Packer on the final day of the regular season, they were hammered. The Lions are capable of doing damage on the offensive glass. However, it comes down to blocking out defensively and limiting second and third chances.

Giovino has used many different lineups depending on the opponent. He has an interchangeable roster that’s bought in. Whether it’s defensive pest Will Reagan, Chris Harper, Josiah MurrellRyan Hobbs or Richie Palacios, the fiery coach knows he can depend on each whether they start or come off the bench. When they ratchet up the defensive intensity, they’re tough. The Lions must remain aggressive but also use good judgment. They can’t waste fouls and force shots. They have reached this point by playing an unselfish team brand of basketball. Everyone chips in.

The first step comes against a pesky St. Ann’s who they swept. Regular season doesn’t matter. As long as they take that approach, they’ll stay hungry. It’s a new season. Win and advance.

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Lions Effort Falls Short To Pelicans on Senior Day

PARK SLOPE, BK-Entering their final game of the regular season, Berkeley Carroll had an opportunity to clinch second place in their division. Ultimately, the task proved too tough to accomplish. Despite a yeoman effort, the Lions fell short to the Pelicans 79-60 on Senior Day at a loud BC Athletic Center in Brooklyn. The defeat was technically their first on home court, dropping them to the third seed for next week’s ACIS playoffs.

The game was much closer than the final score. After getting blown out at Packer’s gym, Berkeley Carroll was motivated to settle the score. Before they tipped off against their closest rival, coach Carmine Giovino honored two outstanding seniors for their dedication to the basketball program. That included four-year Lion Dondre Benson, who’s played every role for a proud coach who praised his student athlete’s commitment on and off the court. The team oriented Benson was presented with a bouquet. Even more emotional was honoree Josh Rosas. The senior missed the entire season due to injury. It didn’t stop him from supporting his teammates every step of the way. As was noted in a previous post, it’s never easy to miss significant time. It speaks to Rosas’ character.

A great presentation was followed by some great basketball. Neither side gave an inch in an ultra competitive first quarter that may as well have been confused for a playoff game. The battle level was intense and the pace frenetic. Due to Packer’s length, Giovino started junior Josiah Murrell to offset the Pelicans’ biggest edge. It proved to be a wise move with Murrell scoring six of his eight early. He had a put back and scored off a couple of nice passes, including one from sophomore Shawn Hicks. Hicks delivered a big game, pacing the Lions with 27.

The bulk of the scoring came from Murrell, Hicks and junior Shane Pearley early. They combined for 15 of the Lions’ 17. Packer’s size proved to be a problem. It took a while for junior Feldman to get going. Once he settled in, it was an uphill climb for the Lions, who were pulverized on the glass. Feldman topped all scorers with 35 and pulled down nearly 20 rebounds. He only got five in the first. Other teammates were involved, including Miller who dialed up long distance. He finished with 14 including an energizing jam off a steal that got the Packer side going.

Trailing by four, a determined Pearley scored the last four on a couple of strong drives to even the score at 17 after one. Following a Pelicans’ mini-run at the start of the second stanza, the Lions came right back thanks to a hoop from sophomore Chris Harper and a Ryan Hobbs free throw. The trouble with Packer is they’re very dangerous. Two consecutive three’s restored the lead to six (29-23). But the Lions hung in thanks to a 6-2 spurt to crawl within 31-29 with two minutes to go in the half. Pearley and Hicks hit from the field and Hicks added a pair from the line.

Even though they were allowing Feldman to score at will in the paint, Berkeley Carroll was right there. But before they got comfortable, Packer erupted to score the final seven. It was highlighted by a three before the buzzer that extended the lead to nine (38-29).

Packer came out looking to bury the Lions. They scored the first four to open up a 13-point lead. However, Hicks answered with five straight. He hit a step back trey from the left key and made a difficult leaner off a wild sequence to pull Berkeley Carroll within five (42-37). A Feldman three-point play restored Packer’s lead to eight. Again, the Lions didn’t back down. Hicks scored on a scoop to the hoop and Pearley followed with a fancy finish to make it 45-41.

If there was a turning point, it was when Murrell was called for an intentional foul. Another Feldman bucket put the Pelicans up six. Following a BC turnover, Feldman had a breakaway. But Murrell hustled back to foul him. However, the officials felt Murrell gave him a little extra resulting in the intentional which Giovino protested. But the lead ref gave a detailed explanation, ending the dispute. When the dust settled, Feldman drained a pair and then inflicted damage by scoring on another put back to turn it into a four-point possession. Just like that, the Lions trailed by 10 with 2:51 left in the third.

A Hicks long range bomb helped the resilient Lions cut it to seven. Every time they got close, Feldman answered. A 5-0 run included a driving hoop inside to restore order. Packer led by a dozen (58-46) after three.

Berkeley Carroll wasn’t done. They twice cut the deficit to six. Freshman Jimmy Council (11) scored from 10 feet. Hicks had another tough bucket to help the Lions cut it to 63-57. That was as close as they got. Packer went on a 9-1 run pushing the lead to 14 (72-58). Feldman scored six and Miller hit from downtown. It was enough to finally put the pesky Lions away.

The question is will it be the final time they see them. If the Lions can take something out of the game, it’s that they never quit. They’ve been a tough bunch all year. Now, it’s about raising their level in the postseason. A team that came together under Giovino and assistants Terrence Caufield and Reed Morgan should be ready. We’ll see if they can deliver under pressure.

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Berkeley Carroll JV Hold Off Packer, Clinch Top Seed

PARK SLOPE, BK-Emotions ran high at the BC Athletic Center in Park Slope Friday. The tension mounted. For first-year Berkeley Carroll boys Junior Varsity coach Stephen Galimidi, the clock didn’t move fast enough. It wasn’t over until the final miss at the buzzer. When it ended, Galimidi’s Lions celebrated a hard fought 50-48 win over Packer at a crowded gym. The win clinched the top seed in next week’s ACIS playoffs.

A game full of momentum swings had a little bit of everything. Having already lost to Packer once, a more determined Berkeley Carroll came out strong. Looking to prove a point, they scored six of the game’s first seven. Jake Just got it started with a long two. Despite only scoring four points, he played a heady game. Just was aggressive throughout and handled the ball more- allowing Davis Conger (6 Pts, 5 assists) to roam free. Just also dished the ball, dropping three dimes while playing solid defense. Just’s early bucket was followed by a Eugene Clark (6, block) finish and a Conger hoop off a steal.

Trailing by five early, Packer stormed right back with a 6-0 run to take the lead. They were led by the play of forward Ogursy (13). He did his damage inside the paint. The Pelicans attacked the basket throughout, getting leading scorer Danny McCormack in foul trouble. The Lions are more potent with McCormack on the court. The second-year captain paced the Lions with 15 and 10 rebounds- posting another double/double. That included three field goals and two free throws to push Berkeley Carroll ahead 19-14 after one quarter.

The second stanza was tighter. Both teams picked it up defensively. Some good screens allowed Packer to free up top shooter Saferstein. He scored all 12 from long distance, including a big one in crunch time that created anxiety in the stands. The Pelicans brought their entire school, turning a home game into a chaotic environment for the Lions. The rematch felt like a playoff game.

Able to get two fouls on McCormack, Packer was able to work the ball inside to Ogursy. He scored nine of 13 in the half. The Pelicans outscored the Lions 7-4 with McCormack on the bench. Other players stepped up in his absence including Chris Denis (9). Denis has been overlooked most of the season. He came up with clutch plays late.

Packer came back to tie the game 26-26. They outscored Berkeley Carroll 12-9. Galimidi wisely subbed McCormack back in for the final minute. The gamble paid dividends with the big man scoring on a put back to put the Lions up two at the break.

The Lions came out sharper in the third quarter. Their defensive intensity picked up. Especially on Ogursy, who had a tougher time finishing. That attention to detail along with super sub Oliver Watson allowed the Lions to open up a nine-point lead on their pesky opponent. Watson has been a consistent spark plug off the bench for Galimidi. The versatile small forward scored 10 and grabbed eight boards. As usual, he hurt the Pelicans by converting second and third chances. He also found an open teammate for an easy bucket in transition.

Watson’s strong play helped the Lions outscore Packer 15-9. They took an eight-point lead (43-35) into the fourth period. For a while, it seemed that they had it all the way. But the Pelicans went down fighting. Their continued assertiveness sent McCormack to the bench with four fouls. A hoop from Palmer off an inbounds got them back in it. They also forced Berkeley Carroll into some turnovers. They once led 50-43 following two Denis’ free throws. He also had a big steal that almost sealed it. Who knew it would be their last points?

After cutting it to five, Packer got the ball back and set up Saferstein for a trey that cut it to 50-48 with under a minute left. The Packer coach used his timeouts. Galimidi burned four earlier but still held onto a crucial one. Out of it, the Lions found McCormack open but he missed allowing the Pelicans to call for time with under 10 seconds left.

Galimidi pleaded with his team to make them earn it. Packer rushed up court and got it to Saferstein, who was double teamed. With nowhere to go, he dribbled and forced a contested three that came up short. It allowed the Lions to breathe a sigh of relief. They stormed off the bench after an exciting win to end the regular season. Well deserved.

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Senior Day For Berkeley Carroll

PARK SLOPE, BK-Today will be a special day for the Berkeley Carroll School. It’s the final regular season game for the Varsity Boys. The Lions enter tied for second in the ACIS League with Friends Seminary. A win over first place Packer at the Lions’ Den would give them the No.2 seed in next week’s playoffs. A loss would lock them into the No.3 seed. At worst, they’re guaranteed a home game in the quarterfinals which begin next Thursday.

It should be a tall order for the Lions, who lost by 32 at Packer’s gym last week. Pride is on the line. Coach Carmine Giovino will honor Dondre Benson on Senior Day. The Lions’ veteran has been a big part of the basketball program for four years. This year, he’s sacrificed for team success, shifting to the bench. Never an easy role, Benson’s accepted it with maturity. He’s demonstrated true character and been one of the Lions’ leaders. Someone who deserves the recognition he’ll receive today.

Berkeley Carroll also will pay tribute to Josh Rojas. The senior has been out with an injury all season. But he’s been on the bench supporting teammates every game. It’s never easy to be injured. As someone who ran track and lost my entire senior year to plantar fascia, it was hard. Rojas has shown great character, befitting of a leader.

Congrats to both.

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Lady Lions Crowned Champs: Berkeley Carroll captures first PSAA title in 11 years

JERICHO, LI-The Berkeley Carroll Lady Lions wrote a memorable final script to the 2012-13 season. A total team effort resulted in the school’s first PSAA (Private School Athletic Association) championship in 11 years. Or as the triumphant team echoed, “Eleven Years In The Making.” They did it under first-year Varsity coach Eileen Herr by playing an unselfish style to conquer Brooklyn rival Bay Ridge Prep 60-34.

Berkeley Carroll was led by league and tournament MVP Sarah Paller. The junior guard finished with a game high 24 points. She put together one of her best efforts with consistent play throughout. She scored inside and out, hitting nine field goals including three triples. Paller split it up nicely with 13 in the first half and 11 in the second half.

The Lady Lions had six different scorers. Junior Becca Bender scored 15 on five three-pointers. That kind of sharp shooting from the perimeter on Long Island Lutheran’s big court was to the Park Slope school’s advantage. Berkeley Carroll won the long range battle nailing nine from downtown. Bay Ridge Prep was no slouch either, hitting five trifectas. However, they all came before intermission. Laura Barclay paced them with 15. That included three treys. Eighth grader Madison Rosato added six on two three’s and Lily Mars had four.

If there was a noticeable difference, Berkeley Carroll had the decided edge inside. Senior Margo Miller and junior Liv Saleh dominated the paint, combining for eight points and 21 rebounds. Most of the damage came on the offensive glass where an opportunistic Lady Lions took advantage of second and third chances. That helped them overcome a shaky start. A Barclay three gave Bay Ridge Prep the early lead. A Saleh offensive rebound led to a Paller banker. Barclay replied with another deep triple to put Berkeley Carroll behind 6-2 against a team they swept in regular season play.

Herr took an early 30-second timeout to remind her players to relax. From that point forward, they responded by outscoring Bay Ridge Prep 10-0, finishing the first quarter up 12-6. Senior Mia Kellman got the run started by converting a driving basket off a second chance. Following a defensive stop, Paller drained a step back three to give the Lady Lions their first lead. Using an effective press, they forced their opponent into mistakes. The pressure really seemed to bother Bay Ridge Prep. It took them out of their rhythm and allowed top seeded Berkeley Carroll to establish momentum.

Miller scored off a Paller in bounds to push the lead to four. Freshman Anna Konyk continued her improvement with a steal and put back to conclude the first quarter. Konyk’s development has been crucial to the Lady Lions’ success. She has active hands and involves teammates. She finished with five off the bench along with two steals and an assist.

In the second stanza, the Brooklyn rivals exchanged early three’s. However, Bay Ridge Prep made their move thanks to two straight bombs from Rosato. Following stops, she came down the court and let it fly, hitting nothing but net. Just like that, the game was tied 15-15 forcing Herr to call for time. As they have all year, Berkeley Carroll bounced back. During a pivotal point in the contest, they went on a 16-2 run to close the half. It turned a tight game into a 14-point lead (31-17) at the break.

Paller converted a crucial bucket to steer the Lady Lions back in front. Having misfired on three previous attempts from the outside, Kellman finally got one to go from the left key off a great ball reversal. She played a strong game on both ends. It wasn’t all about points. Kellman had eight of those (2 treys) but did the little things that defined this team. She got to loose balls and distributed the ball, including a nice sequence where she found Konyk for an easy deuce in transition. Kellman grabbed six rebounds and had five steals.

With Saleh (2 Pts, 11 rebounds-5 offensive) and Miller handling the inside, it freed up Paller to run amuck. When she wasn’t making contested shots from the perimeter, she was breaking down the D- supplying Herr with a dangerous threat. It forced Bay Ridge Prep to pay closer attention to her, opening up the opposite end for Bender to unleash her fury. She’s made nice strides, making better choices with her shot selection. A point Herr and assistants Tierney Bryce and Dick McGrath emphasized. It paid off with Bender’s best shooting performance to date. She made five three’s including one late in the first half to increase the margin.

Despite foul trouble, Saleh stayed aggressive getting Rosato and Barclay into foul trouble. She also connected on a pair from the line. Sidekick Miller also split a pair. Berkeley Carroll’s defensive intensity is what put them up 31-17 at halftime. They came out flat in the third quarter, allowing Bay Ridge Prep to chip away. They turned over the ball and missed some opportunities to extend the lead. After Konyk set up Miller for a nice finish inside, Bay Ridge Prep scored the next six to slice the deficit to 10 (33-23) with 2:30 left in the quarter. Paller hit a baseline jumper out of a timeout stemming the tide. A Bender three from the key allowed Berkeley Carroll to close on a 7-2 run. They took a 40-25 lead into the final quarter.

Instead of allowing their pesky opponent to get back in it, the Lady Lions put the game away. An 8-0 spurt was highlighted by a Kellman three, a Bender dagger and a Paller finish- ballooning the margin to 23 (48-25). They never let up. A strong team effort allowed Herr to empty her bench. Junior Shayna DiPersia grabbed a couple of rebounds and missed a lay-up. Michelle Madlansacay and Emma Sullivan saw action, earning raves from excited teammates.

Herr made sure to leave her senior captains in until there was a minute remaining. It allowed Miller and Kellman to have their moment. One they won’t soon forget. When the final buzzer sounded, Berkeley Carroll celebrated a big win for their school. One that can only be seen as a big step in the right direction for the program.

Award Winning Lady Lions: A postgame ceremony saw Paller recognized as the PSAA’s top player and earning playoff MVP for good measure. Saleh was named to the All Conference along with Bay Ridge Prep’s Barclay, Mars, Evangel Christian’s Lily Morales and Martin Luther’s Lesily Marmolejo. A deserving honor for a player who plays suffocating defense and then acted surprised when her name was called. Herr took home Coach of the Year.

Miller was named to the All Division, joining Rosato, Evangel Christian’s Blanca Bayas and Martin Luther’s Franchon Martinez. She earned it for her overall improvement. Something she credited the coaching staff for. Every player was vocal about it being the best year they’ve ever had. Congrats to the team on becoming champs.

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