For the Eagles of Paul Robeson High School a year has truly made a difference. Last season the Eagles forfeited their final eleven regular season games after an in-game brawl with Thomas Jefferson High School causing them to finish the regular season with a 1-13 record.
This season they finished the regular season with an 8-6 record good enough for fourth in the Brooklyn AA division.
2008 was a year of new hope for the Eagles. And in 2008 they won a post-season game.
Robeson advanced to the second round of the Brooklyn Borough Championships with a 56-47 home victory over the fifth seeded Canarsie Chiefs. "That stuff that happened last year is over with," said Robeson head Coach Todd Myles. Bottom line is I send guys to school and they graduate. That's all I am worried about I want to graduate guys and send them to college."
Myles has now sent his team to Coney Island on Thursday for a third meeting this season with the Lincoln Railsplitters. However, advancing to the second round was not so easy. The Eagles got off to a slow start at home against the Chiefs as they fell behind 9-1 before rallying to tie the game at ten at the end of the first quarter.
The Eagles would then open up the second quarter with an 11-3 run and finished the first half strong as they led by five at halftime. Myles was not pleased with the Eagles first half performance or the officiating especially since Robeson was already shorthanded; playing without third leading scorer Shennon Johannes. Myles who called the game "the worst officiated game he has ever coached" told NYCHoops.net that Shennon had "a problem in school and will be back in a few days." Myles did not know if Johannes would be available for Thursday's match up with Lincoln.
However, the head coach knew that his team had to make some adjustments against Canarsie in the second half. "I told them at halftime they (referees) have nothing to do with the game. We missed eleven free throws and eleven lay-ups in the first half. We are better than this team but we have to make our free throws and our layups,"said Myles.
The Eagles heeded Myles advice in the second half and forced Canarsie into numerous one and done possessions. Robeson got huge contributions from many different players in the absence of their star guard. Kevin Terry gave the Eagles a lift as he scored two of his ten point's right before the third quarter buzzer to give Robeson a 36-31 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth Don Trafari Jr. sparked the Robeson offense as he score all ten of his points including a huge up and under lay-up to give the Eagles a ten point lead with 2:29 to go. The Eagles would hold on for the victory behind the strong interior play of Deshawn Carter (14 points) and great team defense. Robeson will need those two things to upset Lincoln on Thursday. "First game we came close. I wasn't there but we will have our full team," said Terry. "Shannon will be back and we should be alright if we play defense."
The Eagles defense was strong as they were able to contain Canarsie star Yves Jules to 15 points. However they will have a much tougher task containing Lance Stephenson and the rest of the Lincoln offense. Robeson (who lost to the Railsplitters twice in the regular season) is confident they can go into Coney Island and come out with a win. "Its nothing," said senior forward Paris Armwood. "We just have to go over to their place confident that we can win and that W. They are starting to say we are a good team and contend for the title but I feel that we can win the championship."
In 2007 the Robeson Eagles could only dream of having the chance to play a regular season. Now they can dream of winning a borough championship, as they are one step closer.
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