Basketball Team Wins at Barclay Center

By Damali Ramirez ’18

It is known as the home of the Brooklyn Nets—an 18,000 seat basketball court where NBA players like LeBron James and Stephen Curry have famously played—a dream place for most basketball players. It’s Barclays Center. On April 15, 2018, the boy’s varsity basketball team was invited to compete against PSAL Division A Champions Brooklyn Law Technical at the famous arena.

It is the first time the boy’s basketball varsity team has ever played at Barclays Center, making them one of the few schools to play at the arena since it first opened its door to high school teams in 2014.

The Hornets ran onto the court trying to prove to spectators and themselves that they’re a championship contender team. Small forward Andy Dokovic ’19 set the tempo as he scored the first 3-pointer within the first minute of the game. Brooklyn Law gained momentum in the last ten minutes of the first quarter, setting a 22-22 tie.

Towards the last eight minutes of the second half, the audience was on the edge of their seats as Brooklyn Law began to catch up, giving Midwood a one-point lead. However, the Hornets grasped victory with a final score of 50-46 by gaining four points in free throws.

Mr. Victor Gjecaj, Midwood’s head coach, stated, “It felt great, they’re the PSAL champs and they beat everybody else by a wide margin. We played them earlier in the year at a practice game, we knew we could beat anybody if we played well, and basketball is all about execution.

He said, “No matter what they do in the regular season, in the playoffs if you execute, you’ll win, and we played really smart.”

Brooklyn Law had an undefeated regular season with 18 wins. On average, they scored 23 points higher than their opponents throughout playoffs. The Hornets are the only team to have beaten Brooklyn Law this year.

Mr. Gjecaj stated the game plan was to have his players make shots from the outside because Brooklyn Law had exceptional inside players. He understood that making outside shots would be difficult for his players because they’re not accustomed to playing on an NBA court.

Anthony Desmae ’19, Julio Cuero ’18, and Calvin Jenkins ’20 from Brooklyn Law scored a total of 14 points altogether without making any 3-pointers.

Brooklyn Law was unavailable for a comment.

Dokovic scored a total of 18 points: seven points in the first half and 11 in the second.

“I played okay, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and coaching staff,” he said. “They set me up in a good position to contribute, and my teammates helped give me the ball. Overall, it was a great game, and I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Indeed, the Hornets showed teamwork by constantly passing the ball and communicating with each other.

Mark Kokhshteyn ’18, captain and guard, demonstrated strong defense throughout both quarters. He ended his senior year with a final bang by scoring 13 points.

The cheerleading team led by Ms. Joanna Alonso stunned the audience with their halftime performance. 

Bianca Jeune ’19 said, “I felt like it was a great experience because I never performed somewhere as big as Barclays, and I feel like a lot of celebrities performed there. So the fact that I got the chance, wow, I feel like the team is going somewhere.”

For the upcoming season, Mr. Gjecaj expects to win the championship as most of his players are juniors and sophomores.

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