Robeson star Darrel Lucky shows frustration after his ejection for fighting with Transit Tech guard Josh Lambert.
By Zachary Braziller
Rhamel Brown looked up at the scoreboard at the end of the first quarter and didn’t like what he saw.
His Transit Tech boys’ basketball team trailed Robeson, 13-7, but it wasn’t just the deficit and the low scoring output that bothered the junior forward.
The first eight minutes of the Brooklyn borough quarterfinal was eerily similar to the last time the two teams met – when the Eagles prevailed, 63-55, Jan. 20. –
Predominantly because of the same lack of intensity and execution by the Express.
“That loss helped us today,” Brown said, referring to the three quarters that followed. Transit Tech scored 40 of the game’s next 53 points, and rolled to a 55-34 victory in East New York, Brooklyn.
They started moving the ball more crisply, working it inside to Brown (12 points) and fellow forward Barry Posey (12 points), and then out to shooters like Jareid Bryan (game-high 15 points) and Sigbert Guy Jr. They were more patient, waiting for the best shot to arise instead of taking the first one that presented itself.
“We made the right decisions,” said the 6-foot-5 Brown, who had 11 rebounds and six blocks.
Robeson sophomore Darrel Lucky, however, didn’t when he lost his cool and was ejected along with Transit Tech point guard Josh Lambert for fighting with 4:49 remaining in the third quarter. The two traded shoves before the fight was broken up.
The Eagles (13-11) were already shorthanded, without four important contributors, including wing Jamel Noel. The players, coach Todd Myles said, have been temporarily suspended for undisclosed school reasons. So without them and Lucky, Robeson was held to just 13 points over the final 12:49. Making matters worse, point guard Gary Anderson fouled out just 57 seconds later.
“That rattled us,” Myles said. “Hopefully we can get everybody back for the [city] playoffs.”
An immediate decision on the two ejected players’ future was not made. PSAL boys’ basketball commission Mel Goldstein said he was waiting to speak with the two officials in charge of the game before making a ruling.
Transit Tech (16-9) now gets yet another chance to knock off a Brooklyn super power when it meets top seed Lincoln Thursday afternoon in Coney Island. The Express has yet to beat Lincoln, Boys & Girls or Jefferson despite playing each of them extremely tough. In fact, the last time they saw Lance Stephenson and Co., they lost by just three.
“They’re the best team in the city, the defending ‘AA’ champions, but we’re gonna show up and compete,” Express coach Mike Perazzo said. “I think we can compete with anyone if we play hard.”
“We look forward to that challenge,” Bryan added. “We can’t wait to play them.”
The coach wasn’t very pleased with his players afterwards. He felt they came out way too sluggish, lacking the intensity needed to make a lengthy run in the upcoming city playoffs. He admonished his big men, Brown and Posey, for not working well against the zone early, and allowing Robeson too many second-chance opportunities, particularly in the first quarter.
“We came out with no energy,” Bryan said.
Slowly, they got it back, using the opponent and the postseason feel to the game to their advantage. After finding themselves in a 17-7 hole, Brown and Lambert scored on back-to-back possessions to start an 11-2 run to end the first half. Bryan added two free throws and a 3-point play. After Posey and Lucky traded baskets to begin the first half, Transit Tech scored the next nine points, seven from Bryan, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
The senior guard talked about how important this time of year is for his team, who won back-to-back PSAL Class A championships, before going 7-7 in their first year in Brooklyn AA. He kept mentioning that it was one-and-done, even though every team that makes the borough playoffs will be included in the citywide tournament. When reminded of that fact, he smiled.
“We’re trying to win every game we can,” he said, later adding: “A lot of people probably aren’t looking at us. So if we can go deep in the playoffs, we’ll earn that respect.”