With 6 straight wins, Grand Street’s girls look like title contender
Grand Street Campus didn’t play any of its starters to open the game against Medgar Evers Prep, but it didn’t matter as the girls came from behind to win 62-54 in Crown Heights on Wednesday.
“They had a bit of an edge early on because we didn’t have our best players in to start the game,” said Grand Street’s head coach Corey McFarlane. “When they finally got in there, they were anxious; they wanted to get in there, and they played hard right away.”
McFarlane decided to bench his starters because they either missed school that day or practice the day before.
Medgar Evers Prep took advantage early as it opened the game with an 8-2 lead and finished the first quarter on top 14-9 as Mikala Casimir led the girls with six points.
Once Grand Street’s starters entered the game in the second quarter, the momentum immediately changed. Sophomore dynamo Shanique Edwards, who transferred from Nazareth, scored 10 points in the second quarter to fuel a 13-2 run that gave Grand Street a 27-20 lead at the half.
Grand Street continued to pile on in the third quarter when Darieli Abreu and point guard Kaisah Lucky got hot. The two combined to score 30 points in the game, and they gave Grand Street a 19-point lead entering the final quarter.
“A couple of us didn’t show up for school, and we were late to the game, so we didn’t get a chance to warm up,” Abreu said. “It just took us a little while to get hot, but once we did we were able to play our game.”
Grand Street improves to 7-2 against Public School Athletic League competition and is 9-5 overall. The team is currently sitting in first place in the Brooklyn AA Group 2 division and is starting to feel like it has potential for a championship run.
“Our first two losses this season were to South Shore and Bergtraum — two of the top teams in the city — and they were close games,” McFarlane said. “As we continue to get better, the girls get more confidence that we can beat those teams. They’re the favorites every year, we’ll let them be the favorites. Hopefully everyone forgets about us, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
After the game, Abreu reflected how far the team has come in the last four years from getting blown out against some of the worst teams in Brooklyn to now talking about a championship run.
“We’ve come a really, really long way in four years,” Abreu said. “Sometimes I think back to my freshman and sophomore years when the bad teams were blowing us out by 40 or 50 points, and it is hard to think about. Five of our starters today were on those teams and it was ugly, but it motivated us to get better. We’re ready now.”
Grand Street isn’t just a team ready to compete because it’s loaded with seniors. It has a deep roster filled with a mix of upper and lower classmen and its best player could arguably be 6-foot-2 sophomore Shanique Edwards.
Edwards transferred to Grand Street this year from Nazareth. She admitted that leaving the East Flatbush school for Grand Street was a rough transition for her, but said she feels a lot more comfortable since the season started and now feels like just another one of the girls on the team.
“I remember when she first got here she didn’t seem happy to be here,” Abreu said. “She didn’t like the school, she didn’t like the team [and] she didn’t like us. Period. But we reached out to her and she made a big effort to reach out to us and now we have this great bond. We’re a team now and she’s a really important part of it.”
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With the loss, Medgar Evers Prep officially falls to 1-7 on the season. However, it was forced to forfeit a few of its games that it won as the PSAL has accused the team of playing those games without its official head coach Jasmin Robinson on the bench. The team’s unofficial record, according to its unofficial head coach Mike Toro, is 4-4 against PSAL competition.
Toro denies the allegations and said that Robinson has been at every game and practice. He added that since every team makes the playoffs anyway, that MECPS’ record is not important and that the girls are focused on improving and getting ready for February. Toro, who coached at Bishop Ford two years ago, speculated that he could move back to the Catholic High School Athletic League next season.
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In high school football news, the head coach of Grand Street’s football team, Bruce Eugene, was at the game. He told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that he expects Fort Hamilton quarterback Sharif Legree to transfer to Grand Street Campus after the school year ends and said that he plans to use him as his starting quarterback next year.
Legree has always expressed strong feelings for Fort Hamilton, and head coach Danny Perez, mostly due to the fact that his older brother, Jeffrey Legree, won back-to-back championships at the Bay Ridge school last decade. Eugene added that this is about getting better exposure for the quarterback.
“[Legree] had about 100 pass attempts all year last year and my quarterback [Justin White] had 100 attempts in the first three games,” Eugene said. “He’s not getting looks from colleges and it’s because he isn’t getting the opportunity there.”
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