Cougars ready for tournament at French school
By Zachary Roy
The I.S. 89 Cougars boys and girls basketball teams will look to improve their winning records when they take the court at the French Lycée of New York school on 75th St. and York Avenue on Saturday in the SwisHoops Middle School Tournament.
Both teams are hoping to ride the momentum of recent hot streaks into Saturday. The girls (3-3) won their last game in a blow out over Clinton two weeks ago, while the boys (6-1) will play at home this Thursday at 4 p.m. against Clinton, whom they defeated a week earlier.
The tournament will feature teams from across New York City competing in two boys divisions and two girls divisions. The Cougar teams, which are organized and coached by Manhattan Youth, have been selected for the top division in their gender groups. With a round robin format, all participating teams are guaranteed at least three games. Play begins at 10 a.m. and the championship game tips off at 4 p.m.
The I.S. 89 girls will face East Side Middle School, The School of the Future, and P.S. 9, and the boys will contend with East Side, Future, and P.S. 151 from the Bronx.
Organizers hope the event will help to alleviate the logistical problems that plague many middle school teams in the city, namely scheduling issues stemming from limited access to gym facilities.
The goal is to provide the opportunity for teams to play competitively against other schools that they might not otherwise have the chance to play, said tournament coordinator Mark Jerome, director of Global Professional Sports.
I.S. 89 is fortunate to have its own court, but even it is small, so the girls team head coach, Cecilia Dobbs, cited the French schools full-sized court as one reason for her excitement about Saturdays games. She believes that the facilities, along with the tournament atmosphere will give her players a good preview of what high school basketball is like.
With a strong showing on Saturday, Dobbs team could climb back above the .500 mark, and set them up for successful home stretch to the season, which ends at the end of March.
We have a lot of really skilled players, she said. Our biggest challenge is getting them to play as one cohesive unit.
Meanwhile the boys look to add more wins to a season that has seen them get the best of every team they have played except Lab.
Head coach Blake Hepburn is hesitant single out a specific player who is responsible for the squads strong showing, choosing instead to accentuate their unity. He thinks the teams attitude will help them to overcome their lack of depth.
They have great camaraderie. When you have that, it compensates for a weakness you might have, he said. They are supportive of each other, so it gives the other guys confidence. They work as a unit, at any given time one of them will step up for another teammate.