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ALBANY – Every game, every win is even more special for Paul Johnson and his John Adams teammates.
Less than a week after capturing the school’s first-ever city title, the Spartans became the first PSAL team to reach the state Federation Class A boys basketball final since Benjamin Banneker in 2001. They did so with an impressive 69-54 win over McKinley (Section 6) in the semifinals Friday afternoon at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y. Johnson, who had been academically ineligible until January, scored 20 points.
“I told myself I had to do good in school and get back on the team,” he said. “I had to help these guys out. That’s what I did.”
Johnson, who is comfortable being the team’s sixth man, connected on three straight jumpers to close out the first half, giving Adams a 29-21 lead at the break. Spartans coach James Pitman called Johnson an extra weapon in his lineup of scorers and praised his work expanding his game.
“He’s one of the best shooters around,” Pitman said. “He’s more of a complete player than he was last year.”
The Spartans (24-5), who were a No. 13 seed in the PSAL playoffs, started the second half with a 10-0 third quarter run to go up 40-24 with 3:47 left in the frame. Five different players scored during the spurt and four connected on jumpers.
“Our team has a lot of shooters,” said Markell French, who scored 22 points and collected five steals. “We have a lot of all-around players. We can all put the ball in the basket.
Ahmed Kone added 11 points for Adams, which faces Albany Academy in the final at 5 p.m. Saturday. Marcus Morris led McKinley (22-4) with 18 points and Reyjzon Jordan added 15. John Adams countered McKinley’s seven three-pointers by shooting 26 of 33 from the free throw line.
Johnson believes his team has opened people’s eyes about the program, and the Spartans are not yet finished.
“John Adams is not a school people look at as a good basketball team,” Johnson said. “Hopefully people realize John Adams is doing something really special.”
Queens native Brozoski leads Long Island Lutheran girls to ‘A’ final: Cambria Heights native Lauren “Boogie” Brozoski scored 10 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter, including consecutive three-pointers to help Long Island Lutheran to a 44-36 win over Nazareth in the state Federation Class A final Friday morning. She played with a facemask after breaking her nose in practice five weeks ago.
“We have the best guard on the floor,” Lutheran Coach Rich Slater said of Brozoski. “We always have an advantage. We have her and they don’t.”
Brozoski demanded the ball in closing minutes after Nazareth (16–11) went on an 8-0 run to grab a 36-30 lead with 6:09 remaining in the game. She added a key steal and came up with big rebounds after Naz missed jumpers down the stretch. Long Island Lutheran (20-4) plays Troy at 3:15 p.m. Saturday in the final.
“I saw my team getting down; their faces just dropped when we were down six,” Brozoski said. “I was like someone needs to do something. I took the ball in my hands like a point guard, like I’m suppose to do, and I took control of the game like I’m suppose to do.”
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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