The Benjamin Cardozo High School boys basketball team dreams of going back to Madison Square Garden and claiming bragging rights as the best team in the PSAL.
On Tuesday night, they took the first step on that route, knocking off East New York Transit Tech 85-59 to move on to the elite eight.
Coming into the game, Transit Tech was considered the sleeper team as they had previously upset a higher-ranked team. But Cardozo's team had gone undefeated in the regular season.
Hero: Cardozo senior Shelton Mickell knew that if his team wanted to make it all the way to the Garden he would have to bring his game to a new level, which is what he did, hitting 24 points and nabbing nine rebounds.
When his team went through a slump, he picked them up and brought them to the promise land. It was also the last game he will ever play in the Cardozo gym.
Turning Point: As Cardozo continued to handle the ball, they were not able to transition possessions into scores. This led Transit Tech to go on the offensive. Trailing by as much as 16, Transit Tech senior Anthony Prescott helped his team go on a 9-0 run to cut the lead at the half to seven. He led the team with 12 points at the half.
Bottom Line: After an inspirational talk at half-time by former Cardozo standout and NBA player Rafer "Skip to My Lou" Austin, the home team switched to another gear coming out of the half, scoring the first 10 points of the third quarter, thanks to seniors Chris Gayot (eight points total) Tyrel Hunt (16 points total) and Mickell.
Marquis Barnett grabbed 18 rebounds to go along with his 15 points, while Prescott lit up the second half with 13 points.
Quotable: Cardozo coach Ron Naclerio was impressed with the win, but recognizes he has to work a few things.
"I was a little disappointed in the first half because we came out real nice [and] every time we got it up to look like we were going to take a commanding lead, they came storming back," said Naclerio. "I have to give my kids credit - everytime Transit Tech punched us in the face we did not fall down."
Mickell defined this game as a won and done situation.
"This is it, we don't get this game back," said Mickell. "[My teammates] looked at me and said 'You're right we don't get this game back'. We respect every team we play."
Next Up: Cardozo will go on the road and play at St. John's University on Sunday at 3 p.m.