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Crashing the boards: Lions take down Robeson with late-game dramatics

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It felt a bit like revenge.

Brooklyn Community Arts and Media’s girls basketball team took down Paul Robeson 58–57 on Jan. 19, avenging an early-season disappointment and handing the Eagles squad its first loss of the year.

Sophomore guard Makaylah Barber played hero in the dramatic victory, grabbing an offensive rebound off Hevynne Bristow’s missed free throw and sinking the game-winner with just 9.4 seconds left on the clock. It was the Lions’ eighth-straight win.

“I was just lucky that rebound came to me,” Barber said. “I really appreciate the team, because if it wasn’t for the rebounds, us going to the free-throw line, getting fouled, going up strong, I would’ve never gotten that last layup.”

Barber’s game-winning layup wrapped up a chaotic final stretch of game as the Lions (10–2) survived two empty trips to the free-throw line in the final 30 seconds. The squad crashed the boards, however, led by Barber, Bristow, and senior guard Karen Gordon. The trio helped Community Arts and Media create second-chance opportunities, keeping possessions alive and, most importantly, shutting down Robeson (9–1).

Of course, the most important rebounding sequence set up Barber’s final-second shot.

Bristow missed a three-point attempt with 13 seconds left, but Robeson’s Keisy Villanueva lost the rebound on the baseline. On the following possession, Barber found Bristow posting up. She drew the foul and made her first free throw — cutting Robeson’s lead to one. Then Barber followed up with the rebound and the bucket.

“We told them that, whatever we do, we have four people crash the boards and one back,” said Lions coach Hasaun Hunter. “At that time, both of our players (Bristow and Barber) had 20 rebounds apiece, so we knew we had an advantage on the boards and that’s what we took advantage of.”

Robeson had time to get a quality shot off with five seconds left, but freshman guard Phinnette Edwards missed the shot as time expired.

“We missed shots, that allowed them to stay in the game,” said Robeson coach Phinnigan Edwards. “Couple of bad calls, to me, but that one possession, defined the whole game. We just couldn’t get that one rebound. We needed one rebound, get fouled and make some free-throws.”

The Lions seized control of the game in the final 30 seconds, stealing away the momentum Robeson had for much of the matchup. The Eagles, however, struggled down the stretch and failed to score on a pair of late possessions, missing their window to collect a big road win.

“We got real sloppy,” Edwards said.

Robeson entered the game undefeated, but Edwards added that the team has issues padding its leads late in games, allowing teams to stick around. This time, the Lions made them pay.

Bristow finished with a jam-packed stat line of 13 points, 21 rebounds, seven assists, five steals, and five blocks. Barber posted a double-double with 25 points and 21 rebounds, in addition to four assists and five steals. The two performances highlighted the Lions’ win, but their big nights would not have been possible without the strong play of their teammates.

The squad played well on both sides of the floor, forcing Robeson to commit turnovers under pressure, and the Lions attacked the rim relentlessly. Brooklyn Community Arts and Media won as a cohesive group, and that kind of victory has the team confident about its chances heading into the final stretch of the season.

“I believe in my girls,” Hunter said post-game. “We have other good players on our team, it’s not just those two (Bristow and Barber). We want everyone to see that.”

Posted 12:00 am, January 24, 2017
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