PARK SLOPE, BK-Whenever Berkeley Carroll and Staten Island Academy get together for high school hoops, the games are always interesting. Never lacking in intensity, every possession is fought aggressively with the Brooklyn and Staten Island ACIS League rivals giving maximum effort. Yesterday was no different at the winner’s gym with the Lions holding off the pesky Tigers 65-56 behind a game high 27 from junior guard Shane Pearley. The fourth year Varsity standout was instrumental, netting 16 second half points including 10 big ones late to preserve Berkeley Carroll’s perfect home record. They still haven’t lost in league play, improving to 3-0.
The Lions came in off their closest win- by eight over St. Ann’s Tuesday. A league rival who Academy had their lone loss to. None of that mattered when they took the floor. Both teams played at the trademark frenetic pace, looking for any advantage. Pearley got started early, draining a three to put the Lions on the board. He and junior forward Josiah Murrell combined for 13 of BC’s 18 in a high flying first quarter. That included some nice backdoor feeds for easy Murrell finishes. The Tigers countered thanks to the play of forward Andrew Bavarro, who was tough to stop around the basket, doing most of his damage in the paint. He paced SIA with 21.
The Lions took an 18-12 lead into the second. They controlled the first portion, using seven points from microwave Ryan Hobbs to increase the margin to double digits. Hobbs’ three buckets came on a trey and two driving hoops with Murrell on the bench with two fouls. Foul trouble would be a theme for coach Carmine Giovino, who leaned on a deep bench to withstand the Tiger pressure. Trailing 30-19, the Tigers made a push, closing the half on a 10-4 run to pull within 34-29. Bavarro scored inside and had help from guard Mike Langford, who along with Connor Frescatti reached double figures. They provided coach Mike Mazzula with balance. One aspect they excelled at was attacking the Lions’ aggressive 1-3-1, putting freshmen Shawn Hicks and Jimmy Council on the bench with four fouls during the second half. Most notably, SIA made BC pay by cashing in at the line- converting 19 of 23 with the speedy Langford hitting six of seven.
After intermission, Berkeley Carroll surged ahead 43-29. They built a fourteen point lead on improved defense and a key adjustment from Giovino that involved Council. Set up by teammates, the first-year center delivered some clutch baskets, scoring all eight in the third stanza. However, as quickly as they led by 14, that’s how fast the Tigers came back. An 8-0 run predicated on a 1-3-1 press that allowed the guests from Staten Island to score in transition, forced Giovino to call timeout. Academy closed the quarter 15-7 to trail 50-44. That included a long two from Khalil Hyde that beat the buzzer.
Hyde wasn’t done, draining a triple at the start of the fourth to pull the Tigers within three. But a determined Pearley found enough wiggle room to score on a tough leaner. It was his play that prevented SIA from prevailing. Pearley came up with huge plays down the stretch. Every time the Tigers were on the verge of tilting the game in their favor, he made a big play even if the Academy coaching staff disputed a missed charge. It wasn’t the only call that didn’t go their way with the officials allowing Berkeley Carroll senior Dondre Benson’s desperation trey to count after an apparent shot clock violation earlier. They still received many calls but couldn’t overcome Pearley’s heroics. He was the only Lion to score double digits, including 10 in the deciding fourth.
When he returned, Hicks lent support with a crucial bucket and two free throws. His length caused problems for the undersized Tigers, who were hurt on the glass. The Lion trio of Hicks, Council and Murrell got to offensive rebounds while also getting their hands on Academy shots. Definitely an x-factor in the win that kept them undefeated in league play. They also received solid play from starting point guard Richie Palacios. Palacios finished with five including a trey along with a sparkling assist while on the floor for a Pearley lay-in. The sophomore did a nice job running the offense.
Academy never gave up, making things interesting. Bavarro scored inside to make it 56-53 with over two minutes left. Mazzula quickly called for time to set up his defense. The Lions passed the test. Nursing a three-point lead, Pearley escaped the baseline for a runner that put the Park Slope school up five. A missed three-pointer on the other end allowed them to transition to Pearley, who was fouled from behind. It was an intentional foul. While technically right, it wasn’t a popular one. Especially in a close game with a minute left. The Lions’ leading scorer accomplished a rarity by sinking both free throws. Berkeley Carroll went a dismal 5-of-18 with it nearly costing them. Council struggled (2-8) and sub Will Reagan missed a pair.
The effort was good enough to pull out a hard fought victory over a good team who’s well coached. The rematch is January 25, 2013 at Staten Island Academy’s more spacious gym in Todt Hill.
Twin Towers boost JV: It must be nice to have a luxury like the one first-year JV Boys coach Stephen Palidimio has. Size. His two sophomore returning players from last year’s championship team powered the younger Lions to a 65-59 win over the Tigers in the first game of two Friday.
Danny McCormick and Eugene Clarke prevented an upset with dominant play in crunch time. The Twin Towers combined for 18 points, at least 10 rebounds and four blocks in the pivotal fourth quarter of a seesaw contest between Verrazano rivals. It was back and forth throughout with the Tigers breaking Palidimo’s trapping press for points in transition. Academy placed three different scorers in double figures. They turned around the first half by outscoring the Lions 17-12 in the second. Not surprisingly, it was anyone’s game tied 29-29 at the half.
The Lions closed the half with four straight, including a driving hoop from starting point guard Davis. He put together another strong outing, scoring and finding open teammates while pacing the school with 20. Nine came in the second half with a personal 6-0 run spanning the end of the first half and beginning of the third quarter to put Berkeley Carroll up four. The Lions outscored the Tigers 16-13 to take a three-point lead into the fourth.
With SIA in position to hand them their second loss of the season, McCormick and Clarke took over. They were needed after guard Christian fouled out. He scored eight of 10 after intermission, including a contested trey that hit nothing but net. The Lions went to their big men, who were relentless. Both McCormick and Clarke destroyed Academy underneath, using their size and strength for crucial put backs and extra possessions. It wasn’t the prettiest game due to frequent whistles. But when the chips were down, the Twin Towers delivered some clutch play on both ends. One sequence saw Clarke scramble for a loose ball and set up McCormick for a lay-in. McCormick wasn’t done, using fancy feet to slip Tiger defenders for an off balance lay-up that energized the crowd.
Clarke then recovered to make a clean block, earning chants of “Euuu,” from the Varsity who enjoyed the action. He blocked another shot as did McCormick, who scored 12 of his 16 in the final stanza while Clarke had half his dozen. Despite a great effort from SIA, it was enough to hold up.
Notes: Zach Llewlyn and Kyle Graber provided Giovino with valuable minutes which allowed him to keep Hicks and Council on the bench. … The JV Boys and Varsity Lions return to action when they visit Friends Seminary for a league doubleheader Tuesday. Scheduled tips are 4:15 and 5:45. … Monday, the Lady Lions host Packer at 4:15 PM.