CAHS boys win tourney opener in Puerto Rico


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MAYAGUEZ, P.R. - Elisha Arnold, Akito Amaro and Sekayi Petersen refused to lose as the Charlotte Amalie High School Chickenhawks knocked off Calasanz, 51-47, in overtime during the 2012 Puerto Rican Hoops Championship Tournament on Friday afternoon. Calasanz, a tall, gangly team, rallied from a 26-17 deficit and controlled most of the second half except the final 2:44.

Calasanz had the ball and a 42-38 lead when Petersen poked the ball away from a defender and into the hands of Amaro, who nailed a floater to get the rally started. Arnold next took the ball coast-to-coast to tie the game at 42 all with 53 seconds left.

The Hawks stole the ensuing possession and had an opportunity to win the game in regulation, but an off-balanced shot by DeVontee Anthony fell short.

"I thought we could have won in regulation," said head coach Pedrito Estrill. "We were behind, so we switched from man-to-man to a zone defense. We went to a full-court press and we took out our bigs. They were able to steal the ball, and on offense they were able to score a lot better. I had J'Moi Smith in the back because he hurt his foot in the first game. He delivered by getting a lot of big steals and passing to the guys."

In overtime, Petersen scored six of his 14 points, including a lay-up with 35 seconds left to give the Hawks a 49-42 lead. Calasanz responded with two free throws, however, Amaro answered with two free throws of his own to put the game away. Arnold led CAHS with 20 points.

In their first game, the Hawks fell to the home team San Benito, 44-36. The Hawks jumped out to a 15-10 first quarter lead but could not hold off the bigger team.

"We started off real good," said Estrill. "We were in the game, but had first-game jitters. They executed in crisis situations. This team will get better as the season goes along and we will tweak some stuff to get things right. "

San Benito used its size to muscle their way to a 31-25 rebounding edge, and used their frames to disrupt the Hawks' shot attempts. The Hawks shot 31.3 percent from the field for the game and only 24 percent in the second half.

Petersen led the Hawks with 13 points but shot 6-of-17 from the field, and Arnold had 10 points but was in foul trouble for most of the morning and eventually fouled out.

On the girls side, the CAHS Lady Hawks dropped an exciting tournament opener to ECEDAO, 42-39. The Lady Hawks, playing without their big players Edidiong Utibe and Renique Francis, brought a New York Knicks style of basketball.

"We are outsized," said coach Jalani Horton. "We have to be aggressive, deflecting passes and diving on the floor. It is not a running up and down system. We have a purpose to what we are doing."

The Lady Hawks found themselves down, 40-32, with 3:50 ticks left on the clock. Two free throws by Ranai Evans and one by Sherelle George got the Hawks within striking distance.

Then a stolen pass by Evans and a pass to Sheraine George brought the Hawk faithful to their feet with the score at 40-37. However, two free throws by Genesis Pagan with 35 seconds left put the game away.

Evans led the Lady Hawks with 19 points, followed by Sherelle George and Jerusha Corbett with six points each.

"We are starting to jell," added Horton. "We are getting a better understanding of our abilities, both from the coach and the player. Even though they were bigger we had our opportunities and we let the game get away. It was a good learning experience. "

In an exhibition first, the Lady Hawks got the opportunity of a life time when they played the 10th-ranked St. John's College High School. St. John's featured Lindsey Allen, who played with Team USA and recently committed to Notre Dame.

St. John's won the game, 59-23. The Hawks did put up a valiant effort and were only down by six, 18-12 after one quarter. Then the size and defensive prowess of St. John's took over.

Evans led the Lady Hawks with 12 points and eight boards. Kayla Robbins had 12 points and 14 rebounds, and Tori Oliver added 11 points.

"We were greatly undersized in this game," said Horton. "The players did not quit and played till the last whistle. We ran out of gas but were executing very well. We want our program to be where St. John's is. In order to get there you must take opportunity when someone calls to schedule a game. I wish we could play a top 10 team every year. "

The Lady Hawks also got an opportunity to see one of their own on the college level. Aesha Peters and Glenville State destroyed American University on Wednesday night.

"It meant a lot to the girls to see someone who was in the program and excelling," added Horton. "She is a model for our current players. She and a couple of her teammates talked to our girls about the importance of time management, work ethic, sacrifice and commitment.

"I then asked her if she could go back and speak to herself, what she would tell herself. It was a very deep question, and her answer was she would change her entire approach to the game and lifting weights."

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