downtownexpress.com
Volume 19 Issue 36 | January 19 - 25, 2007

Sports

M.A.T.’s girls varsity team.

Dragon b-ballers take on tougher competition

As the winter sports season comes into full swing in January, the Manhattan Academy of Technology Dragons basketball teams are in the middle of a competitive showing in the District 2 Uptown league. 

The school this year is fielding four teams, with a total of over 70 students.  The Dragons, who have won the Lower East Side League twice on the boys side and once on the girls side moved to the bigger, more competitive Uptown league for the first time this year in order to play against and learn from the bigger and better competition. 

“We’re a small school, so normally we play against schools our size, but I want the kids to experience what it’s like to play against the best N.Y.C. has to offer,”  said coach De Matteo.  “I told them that the only way to improve and build character is to play against better competition.”

M.A.T.’s sixth grade boys team.

On the boys varsity side, the team is 3 - 4 so far, losing a tough game to I.S. 140 in overtime and two against I.S. 89, their rivals from Battery Park City.  Their wins have come against TASS middle school, and a close nail biter to ICE middle school. 
The boys are led by the scoring trio of Jose Fernandez, Najee Lane and Emmanuelle Mendoza.  Filling out the roster are point guard Joshua Lawrence, guard Michael Herman, center Hezakiah Walker, forward Qi Chen, guards Brandon Burgos, Andrew Milian, and forwards Roderick Silva, De Guang and Malcom Brisset. 

“Most of our starters are in seventh grade, so I look to this as a learning experience,” De Matteo said. “Najee is our leader and our only starting eighth grader, so the kids look to him for leadership, and he’s stepped up nicely.  I like what I see on the defensive end, and the boys have shown me great hustle and teamwork so far this year.”

On the varsity girls side, the girls have won two games this season and are fielding a very young team including a lot of sixth graders and seventh graders. 

“On the girls side, it’s going to be a learning experience as well.  We’re in the big league playing against mostly eighth graders, so I expected our girls to face some tough challenges.  They’ve played hard and are still learning.  I’ve seen a lot if improvement in a lot of players from the beginning of the year, “ Coach De Matteo said. 

The girls are led by captains and eighth graders Ashley De La Cruz and Alinda Nicaj, who are returning for their last year after playing ball for a couple of years now.  Other key members of the team include Raven Marcano, Jubilee Domenech, Selena Goodman, Jehnile Lewis, Emma H., Destini Torres, Shakiira Harewood, Patty Rosa, Elizabeth Yee, Tafari McKenzie, Ellen Mullan-Jayes, Michelle Lopez, Shai Haynes and Ruby Harrison-Clay.  The girls are looking forward to this week’s action, including a rematch against I.S. 140, whom they beat earlier in the season.

M.A.T. also fields a boys sixth grade basketball team, that is mostly a developmental team, but also has competitive games against other middle schools.  The “A” team plays in the games against the other schools and the “B” team is a modified team for those children who are new to the game of basketball.  The A team has had much success this season, with a record of 4 - 2 including impressive wins over Salk and Anderson. 

The team is led by captains Adonis Perez, Corin Squaw and Gabe Smith. Rounding out the roster is Kevin McFadden, who has played well at center all year as only a fifth grader, Shaheem Herring, Daniel Sexton, Juan, De Shawn Jones, fifth grader Jason, Joellis Morales, Reed Bakirtjy, Taylor Myers, Westin Loving and Kevin. 

“The sixth graders have shown me tremendous attitude and commitment as well as sportsmanship.  I’m very proud of the group of kids I have this year and to know that I have them for two more years makes me look forward to things to come,” the coach said. 

M.A.T.  continues to play a packed schedule this week against four different schools.  The playoffs start after winter break, and the boys are currently in second place in their division.

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