Volume 17, Number 44 | March 24 - 31, 2005


Downtown Express photos by Lorenzo Ciniglio

.S. 89 Cougar Jenny Yu, the team’s floor leader, set up the team’s winning basket in a come-from-behind win against Salk last week.

I.S. 89 girls’ hot fourth quarter nets comeback win

By Zachary Roy

March Madness was in full effect last Thursday at I.S. 89, where the Cougars’ girls team overcame a 13-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat Salk Middle School 33-32 on a game-winning shot by Bria Schirripa.

Neither team appeared to be intimated by the boisterous crowd of I.S. 89 students, especially not Salk’s Ebeni Marquez. She used an unstoppable combination of powerful drives through the Cougar zone defense and a soft touch from the outside, netting 14 first-half points to give the visitors a 16-13 half-time lead.

Fearless point guard Jenny Yu spearheaded I.S. 89’s up-tempo transition attack. But Marquez relentlessly shredded the Cougar defense, as she single-handedly outscored Manhattan Youth’s I.S. 89 team 12-0 in the third quarter, giving Salk a 28-15 cushion.

Having carried her team all game, Marquez rested the first few minutes of the fourth quarter. With Salk’s main offensive and defensive weapon on the bench, the Cougars scored for their first points in nearly 10 minutes. The I.S. 89 frontline dominated the boards and fighting for second-, third- and fourth-chance points on each possession. Boosted by their comeback, the Cougars found new defensive life, intercepting passes and converting them into fast-break lay-ups.

Excitement in the bleachers mounted, as I.S. 89 students and parents braced themselves for the dramatic conclusion. With five minutes to play and the Salk lead reduced to 28-23, Marquez returned, but she was unable to curb Cougars’ momentum. I.S. 89 coach Cecilia Dobbs ordered her team, now in a woman-to-woman defense, to double-team Marquez, which finally slowed her down.

In the final minute, Yu stole the ball and threw it ahead to Schirripa whose lay-up gave them their first lead since the opening moments of the game. Salk had the ball, down 31-30 with 30 seconds to play. But before they could attempt a go-ahead shot, Schirripa swiped the ball again and nailed a 15-foot jumper, increasing their lead to three, but still a one-possession game.

Marquez promptly answered with a driving layup to cut the host’s lead to 33-32 with nine seconds remaining. But the Cougars in-bounded the ball to Yu who ran out the clock and sealed the improbable come-from-behind win.

Yu led the Cougars with 9 points, while Alessandra Fusillo and Schirripa each chipped in 6, none bigger than Shirripa’s two baskets in the last minute. Meanwhile Marquez scored 28 of her team’s 32 points.

The Cougars looked beaten in the third quarter, but they responded with their best eight minutes of the season, outscoring Salk 20-4 in the fourth quarter. “We finally played tough defense,” Dobbs said after game. “We let [Marquez] go in the first half, because our zone wasn’t shifting quick enough. That’s something we have to work on for next year. We had to play man-to-man and double-team her. On offense we started working the ball around and getting better shots.”

On Tuesday, Yu led the way once again as the Cougars topped I.C.E. 23-21 to take them over the .500 mark for the season at 7-6. Dobbs said that the squad’s next game, against Clinton next Tuesday, could be its last of season if she is unable to schedule any more.

Meanwhile, the boys were also in action last Thursday against a skilled team from Thompson Square Middle School. I.S. 89 raced out to its customary hot start, taking a 9-0 lead, before the visitors could get settled. The Cougars maintained a double-digit lead most of the game, but a late Thompson Square surge made the final score close, 47-43. Grits Gittens poured in 26 points, besting his previous season high by one. Robby Duran recorded a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

The boys’ record stands at 17-1, with the lone loss to Lab, whom they will battle in a highly anticipated rematch on the road this Thursday.

Downtown Express photos by Lorenzo Ciniglio

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