BROOKLYN, NY - Jefferson Head Coach Lawrence "Bud" Pollard was as calm as a coach can possibly be after the Orange Wave's game against Lincoln.
A total contrast to about 30 minutes prior, when he was so irate that he was ejected from the game.
"I made it known several times that the clock wasn't starting [in a timely manner]," he said of what instigated his banging of the scorer's table, which consequently caused him to receive his second technical and be removed from the gym. "[The girl controlling the clock] was just into the game, it wasn't her fault. These people aren't paid professionals and things happen in intense atmospheres."
One thing you'll find at a Brooklyn AA basketball game is emotions. Both the aforementioned kind that cost you games and the kind that win them for you. Jefferson had their share of each against the NYCHoops.net #2 ranked Lincoln Railsplitters on Tuesday, but fortunately for them, the latter prevailed and led them to an action-packed 82-77 overtime win on the road.
A well-oiled machine in the first half, Lincoln couldn't miss. Good defense from both units was overridden by the fact that the Railsplitters scored in bunches - namely, sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead (who scored a team high 17 points).
Jefferson got answers from their own young stud guards Jaquan Lynch and Patrick Brown, but the Railsplitters went up by as 10 points in the first half. But as the intensity picked up, so did the fouls, and that's where Lincoln found their advantage. A 14-17 showing from the stripe in the first half was the result of a double bonus, and point guard Ethan Telfair (12 points) and forward Travis Charles (16 points) combined to sink nine of those. The Orange Wave made runs, but couldn't get over the hump and were looking up from a seven point hole (45-38) at halftime.
"I spoke to [teammate] Thaddeus [Hall] at halftime and we knew we would get this win," said Lynch, who scored a game high 21 points. "We just had to play harder in the second half."
Hall also woke up.
"Jaquan was hot in the first half, but I was struggled a little bit," said Hall, who scored 17 points, 13 of which came in the second half and all of which were huge. "I was able to get going in the second half and get my teammates involved."
As emotions got testy and the crowd got louder, Jefferson's trademark no-fear basketball came to life. Hall turned great defense into a pair of big baskets, the latter of which finally put the Orange Wave on top, 60-59. Lynch jawed at and then silenced a rowdy heckler with a three at the buzzer to put Jefferson up four to end the quarter. But more importantly, the Orange Wave guards got their big men involved.
"The guards have faith in me, so I help them out if they miss shots," said 6'5" junior forward Kareem Johnakin, who scored 15 points and grabbed the lion's share of the rebounds for Jefferson. "[Lincoln's bigs] weren't energized and I had a field day with them. If you don't box me out, I'll get the boards."
Johnakin viciously powered in whatever Lynch and Hall didn't take for themselves, and his bucket early in the fourth quarter gave Jefferson a 69-61 lead, their largest of the game. The Orange Wave's front court also took some key charges, bolstering their momentum. Conversely, everything that worked for Lincoln in the first half had evaporated. Once an ally, the charity stripe wasn't so charitable in the second half (the Railsplitters shot 15-26 after halftime). With the exception of a tip in to tie the game at 70, Whitehead kept a low profile in the second half. Through it all, though, Lincoln remained in striking distance and Shaq Davis (11 points) and Charles worked to keep them there. But then that Brooklyn AA unbridled emotion reared its head and opened a door of opportunity for Lincoln.
"Coach Bud can get active sometimes," said Lynch with a laugh. "He got the ejection [at the 1:33 mark], but I knew we just had to slow it down and execute; we could win it for him."
A Whitehead free throw put Lincoln up a deuce, but a bucket from Hall at the 48 second mark knotted the game at 74, where it stayed at the buzzer. The extra session was all Jefferson; in regards to both the game and Coach's name.
"Part of my role is to make suggestions when ideas are needed," said Assistant Coach Seldon Jefferson, who relieved Pollard and coached Jefferson at the end of regulation and in overtime. "I also to [take control] in situations like these."
Jefferson (who also coaches Jefferson's JV) has confidence in his young players, one of whom is junior Nazai Stokes, who hadn't played much. He was inserted and spotted in the corner by Hall, who fed him for the killer three that Lincoln couldn't answer. Free throw shooting from Brown (who finished with 13 points) and Hall closed out the game and made it evident that from the bench to Hall to the coaching staff, the Orange Wave are a formidable force in the PSAL.
"The bench played great, the back court played great," Coach Jefferson said, refusing to take credit for coaching down the stretch. "Thaddeus could've taken that shot for himself, but he trusted Nazai. That speaks to his fortitude. All the credit goes to the kids for this win."
In other Top Ten Action:
Archbishop Stepinac beats St. Raymond, 57-56, at the buzzer