In the depths of Truman High School’s concrete basement, DeWitt Clinton’s boys basketball team was looking to extend its 10-game winning streak. They were up against William C. Bryant’s Owls, who put together a spirited effort to try and meet Clinton’s physical style of pressure basketball. Ultimately, the Governors dominated the Owls, 73-35.
The Governors displayed impressive physicality and hustle, and it’s hard to imagine them losing to any other team in the Bronx A II league. This game against Bryant was a PSAL showcase and will be used to determine where Clinton gets seeded in the playoffs.
“We knew the eyes of the seeding committee would be on us,” head coach Chris Ballerini said. “We’re fighting for a top seed.”
It was clear from the beginning that the Governors could take total control of the game seemingly at will.
Clinton has three stellar guards in Jomauri Peña (21 points), Nowah Hargrow (17 points), and Jason Coachman (10 points) who, when they are fresh, can completely overwhelm both on offense and defense with decisive quickness. This was emblematic in the first quarter when Clinton’s boys went on a 20-0 scoring run.
The Owls weren’t missing shots; Clinton was simply not allowing them to even make any attempts, forcing a turnover or grabbing steals on nearly every possession for six straight minutes.
When Clinton’s guards started to miss their layups and jumpers Bilal Ouro (16 points) proved essential in the paint, fighting for rebounds, cleaning up the boards, and knocking down 4 out of 5 of his free throws.
Even when play started to settle down and the game became more organized, Clinton showed to be just as efficient moving the ball around. Peña was lethal setting up plays and finding the open man as he was making steals and pressuring Bryant’s guards, racking up a team-high 10 assists.
Because DeWitt Clinton has been so dominant in their league this season, Ballerini also expressed his goal of getting the boys ready for the even tougher teams they’ll meet after the regular season.
“We want to be tested,” he said, and he knows that his team right now is “up to the challenge” of the playoffs.
Their matchup with Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School this Saturday should be the test they’re looking for, and then they’ll finish the schedule with Bronx Science at home next Monday.