Sunday, May 19, 2024

Manhattan wins Battle of the Boroughs

Ladan Graves shoots a free throw in the second game of the night April 12. The crowd filled the overlook, the balcony and the sidelines to watch the tournament.


By Kamiko Chamble

The Battle of the Boroughs tournament featured students representing boroughs in New York City in a basketball bracket for the title of best borough.

 Plattsburgh’s Fuerza: The BIPOC Student Union hosted its eighth annual tournament — which it’s hosted since 2016 — in Memorial Hall on April 12.

The history of the tournament has seen several boroughs win. No team won more than once until 2023, when Brooklyn won both 2022 and 2023’s tournaments. 

Five teams competed: Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. Each was coached by a member of Fuerza.

Games were 15 minutes long and teams who lost in the first round were given a second chance through a losers bracket, where they would need to beat the reigning champs Brooklyn.


By Michael Purtell

Siri Thomas throws down a transition dunk against the Bronx on April 12.


The first game of the night was Manhattan against the Bronx, which was quick as Manhattan took the win 28-12.

Playing on Manhattan were returning players from previous years Ethan, Siri Thomas, Damian Hunter, Darren Wright and Franklin Infante. There were two new players in Willard Anderson Jr. and Bely, with Ashley Rufino coaching. Wright, Infante and Anderson play for the Plattsburgh men’s basketball team, making the Manhattan squad an intimidating matchup.

Playing on the Bronx were returning players Koree, Rah Irving and Francisco Lautere. Making their first appearance for the team was Jaiden Butts, Wykeem Brown, Kam and Daniel, with Isabella Rozon coaching. 

“I expected (my teammates) to play better. I felt like I was the only one out there trying to do anything,” Lautere said. “We all thought it was going to go a different way but when it came down to it they got scared because they saw a couple of basketball players on the other team.”

The next game was Staten Island against Queens, which ended with a 29-24 Staten Island win. This game was competitive, but Staten Island pushed through and took the victory. 

Coaching Staten Island was Fuerza member Zaniah Smalls. Returning players included Levi Delaney, Justin Blanchett, Laden Graves, Mussa Kone, Nathan and Orlando Dawkins, with one new addition to the team in Jeremy Jolly. Jolly, Dawkins and Graves are all rostered on the Cardinals basketball team. 

“Preparing for the game, I workout everyday regardless, that was non negotiable for me. Mentally preparing, I just came home from work and relaxed, drank water and ate right,” Jolly said.

 Ivonne Diaz coached Queens team. Returning players included Khanye Liggan, Jonah Baker-Flora and George Brito. New players joining the team were Damien, Anu, Timothy and Joseph. 


By Jayne Smith

Timothy after snagging a steal against the Bronx April 12.


The first game of the losers bracket was the Bronx against Queens. Queens took a close win 22-20 and eliminated the Bronx.

In the fourth game, Staten Island faced Manhattan. Manhattan took another dominant win  37-24. 

“I feel like we played a lot of one-on-one basketball and we should’ve never tried to play at their speed. We took a lot of shots, a lot of contested midrange and threes — it just wasn’t worth it,” Jolly said. 

Manhattan punched its ticket to the final game with the win. The team’s success came from every one of its members, Thomas said.

In the fifth game, Queens competed against the reigning champions Brooklyn. Brooklyn, coming off of a first round bye due to their status as reigning champs, won the game 35-23. Brooklyn was coached by Nekaybaw Ross. Matt Kone-Bradshaw and Anthony Williams Jr. returned from last year’s winning team. New additions to the team were Ant, Jeremiah Love-Smith, Irwayne Connell, Anthon Brown, and Ike Ezike. Williams, Love-Smith, Kone-Bradshaw and Ezike also play for Plattsburgh’s men’s basketball team. 

The crowd was amped up to see the returning champs in action, creating an electric environment. Onlookers filled the overlook, the balcony in the rec gym, and the sidelines of the court. Hundreds of students attended the event.

The championship game was the two-time champions Brooklyn against a rolling Manhattan. Manhattan completed their day of dominance with a 32-22 win.

Manhattan won every game they played by double digits.

Brooklyn was shocked to have lost, unable to complete the Battle of the Boroughs three-peat.

Manhattan knew it had what it took to upset Brooklyn.

“I did expect to win. I felt confident, I liked my team, and I liked what we were going against. So I was really confident,” Thomas said. 

The large crowd kept the energy up throughout the event with cheers, keeping the games fun even in a loss.

“I feel like we could’ve done better,” Love-Smith said. “It was still fun though, there were a lot of people.” 


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