Jefferson’s Big Three: Mean enough for the city basketball title?
The Thomas Jefferson Orange Wave kicked off the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) high school basketball season when they beat Robeson High School 101-67 in East New York on Tuesday night.
It was the first time the Orange Wave’s new big three got together on the court during the regular season, and even though it didn’t start smoothly, they were impressive. Shamorie Ponds led with 26 points, Davere Creighton had 21 and 11 rebounds and Jaquan McKennon had 11 and 10 assists.
“In the first quarter we got off to a very slow start, but by the second quarter, we turned it up and became a beast,” Creighton said. “We just had to get the jitters out. We’re gelling pretty well. … we’re just going to get stronger as the year goes on.”
It was a four-point game at halftime when Jefferson led 37-33. The Orange Wave then exploded behind Ponds in the third quarter, when he scored 11 and quickly built up a 15-point lead. In the fourth, that lead increased to 30 following a 10-0 run that displayed aggressive defense, good ball movement and was capped off with a three from junior Curtis Smith.
After the game, Jefferson head coach Bud Pollard admitted he was impressed by his team’s abilities — but he wasn’t ready to fit them for championship rings just yet. He is worried that the team might not be tough enough and that they might be getting too ahead of themselves.
“Yeah, they’re nice guys, but you know what happens to nice guys on the mean streets of Brooklyn,” Pollard said. “In the Brooklyn AA, nice guys finish last. It’s a black and blue division. There is no room for niceness.”
While he was willing to chalk up some early struggles to jitters, he also thought his team didn’t show the proper respect to Robeson and added that it could cost them.
“They’re anxious,” Pollard said. “They want to go from today’s game to the Barclays Center, but there is no guarantee that we’re going to get there. You have to respect everybody.”
“There is a lot of parity this year,” Pollard continued. “Just because we got there last year, doesn’t mean we can win it this year. There are about six or seven teams that can win it all this year. We’re fortunate to be one of those six or seven — but on any given day, anyone can win.”
However, that doesn’t mean Pollard is hiding his championship aspirations as talk is constantly on the finals.
“He tells us before every game that we should play like we are in the Barclays no matter who we are playing,” McKennon said. “He always tell us to play every game like it is our last, and that’s what we have been doing.”
Jefferson has reason to be excited by this season. They took a core of a team that made it all the way to the PSAL finals, only to lose to Cardozo, and added two very talented players. Combine Creighton and McKennon with Ponds, and they have quite a formidable threesome.
“It’s the big three right here,” Ponds said. “I see all of us as leaders because we can all step up when the team needs us. We’re dangerous, we’re scary. There isn’t a team in the city that can take us lightly.”
The trio is confident, but they wouldn’t be at Jefferson if they weren’t. Both told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that they joined the team with one goal in mind — a PSAL city title.
“That’s why we came here — we all realize that this is a good opportunity to win a title,” Creighton said. “This is a big program and we have a chance to make it even bigger.”
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