Nazareth Class B Champions.
Photo by Lem Peterkin

Nazareth’s last Class ‘A’ Intersectional Basketball Championship game came in back-to-back years of 1988-1989 when Ted Gustus coached the teams. Overall, Nazareth from the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn captured it three times, the city wide crown in 1977 when all the teams were in one class or league of the Catholic High Schools Athletic Association.

Over the years, the Kingsmen turned out decent squads but not of championship caliber. Lately, the school has been increasing talent wise.

They recently put it all together last week by capturing the Class ‘B’ final and wound up with a 20-6 overall record, including 12-0 in league competition of seven schools from the five boroughs in New York City and Westchester County, all members of the CHSAA.

Junior guard Naquan Chandler, senior forward Mike Megaafu, and sophomore forward Samson Usilo earned berths on the all-league Class ‘B’ team.

In the 70-47 trouncing over St. Agnes of Manhattan, Usilo led all scorers by tallying 29 points. Teammate Shajea Stephenson, a senior guard, netted 15 points to help with the scoring.

Field goal percentage, three-point shooting, great defense, and the outstanding backcourt play paced the way for the Kingsmen, who now move ahead into the New York State Tournament. Credit also goes to the players and the coaching staff, headed by veteran head coach Todd Jamison and his entire staff.

The Kingsmen opened the game with a 6-0 run on a dunk by Usilo on a pass from Naquan Chandler, Megaafu’s lay-up, and Usilo’s outside shot. Daniel Beausejour’s three-point shot at the buzzer enabled the Kingsmen to take a 21-5 lead and they never looked back. Incidentally, Mike, a senior, is the valedictorian for Nazareth.

“We try to overwhelm the other team’s guards and get out on the open floor,” said Jamison. “We have some very good athletes. We try to mix our pressure (going) half court and full court.

“As far as our excellent field goal shooting percentage, we’ve been shooting the ball very well all year, because we’re an inside-outside team with Sammy and Mike (leading the way). Sammy is a Division I athlete. They like to get the ball in the paint. As a team we shot the ball very well from the perimeter (in the final), and we’re shooting the ball better lately.”

Winning the game and Class ‘B’ intersectional final meant everything to the coaching staff, players, student body, and administration.

“I did everything that I needed to do,” said Usilo, a sophomore forward. “My teammates encouraged me and made everything (easier) for me. Next year I’ll be a junior.”

“We haven’t won a championship since 1989,” Jamison said. “Now we have two more to go , as we play St. Mary’s (this weekend). We’ll see what happens. The kids are playing well defensively…Winning the championship is special for us. I’m gracious to coach this team.”

“It’s exciting to win the championship and be playing so well, and it’s exciting for Coach Todd Jamison to win his first championship,” said Nazareth Principal Providencia Quiles. He’s an exceptional coach.”

On the lower level, Nazareth’s junior varsity team also captured a city-wide title when they turned back Salesian High, 61-57, in overtime.

“We went undefeated in the league,” said Coach John Fields. “We had a very good year. The kids played hard. We’re looking for better things next year. It’s a great thing to win two titles (Varsity and Junior Varsity). We’re getting better talent in the school.

“These kids really wanted to perform and we won the city title. From day one, we put ‘it’ out there in front of them-let’s go and get a city title. And they worked hard to achieve that.”

Now the varsity is looking forward to take everything-the State and Federation championships, as well.

“We’re trying to build something at Nazareth and we’re on a roll right now,” added Fields. “Hopefully we can make it (the school) a power house once again.”

In the second game of the double-header at Fordham University in The Bronx, Iona Prep of New Rochelle turned back St. Edmund’s of Brooklyn, 70-54, for the Class ‘A’ title.

Brandon Williams, a junior guard, scored 18 points one more than sophomore guard Isiah Ice to lead Iona Prep.

“I helped my team get the championship,” Williams said. “I tried to keep the game under control. So many different guys stepped up. It meant a lot to win the title.”

Williams, who didn’t start some of the games during the season because of an injury, is a two-sport athlete for he is a wide receiver on the football team at Iona Prep. His goal now is helping his school win the State tournament and the Federation Tournament in Class ‘A.’

Nazareth #22 Sajea Stephenson flys by St. Agnes #10 Andrew Chan.
Photos by Lem Peterkin
Photo by Lem Peterkin

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