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Science, RKA flex basketball muscles across the city

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With just two weeks remaining in the Public School Athletic League basketball regular season, both the Bronx Science girls basketball team and the boys team from Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy — two of the top hoops programs in the Bronx this season — decided it would be a smart idea to step outside their comfort zone and match up against some other top programs across the city.

It would be a chance to see other top talent up close, get familiar with some postseason contenders, and see how they stacked up against premier programs in the other boroughs.

The experiment was a resounding success for both programs as Bronx Science went 2-0 in the Bob Gregory Memorial Midyear Tournament in Queens after a 54-28 drubbing of Health Professions High School, and a 58-19 pounding of Hunter. RKA traveled to Brooklyn and took down a highly rated Gregorio Luperon program, 75-51.

Carolina Lopez had 13 points, Georgia McKay added 12, and Michelle Kim had 10 in the victory over Health Professions. The subsequent victory over Hunter — in which Lopez had 12 points, and both McKay and Sarang West finished with 11 — boosted the Wolverines’ record to 14-1 on the season. McKay “has been picking it up a lot lately,” Science coach Mike Mei said. “She has double-doubles in her last four games.”

Now comes the hard part for Science — four straight road games in its final five games, beginning Jan. 26 at Rucker, as the Wolverines continue to pursue the Bronx A South Division crown.

“This is the brutal part of the schedule,” Mei said. “Rucker, then Lehman, and then KIPP and Evander before finishing with Mott Haven. That’s a tough stretch for sure. But if we do our jobs, that final game of the regular season against Mott Haven could be for the Bronx Division title. 

“It’s been a while since we’ve been in that conversation. But the product is coming together. This next 10 days or so will be a big test for us.”

RKA, which has a comfortable three-game lead with four regular-season games to play in the Bronx B-1 Division, throttled a Luperon team that came into the contest with a 10-2 record and a second-place standing in the Manhattan B North Division. But RKA made it a one-sided game right from the start.

“It was tied at 5-5 to open the game, and then we outscored them 40-10 and we were up, 45-15 at halftime,” RKA coach John Reingold said. “They’re a good team. It wasn’t a fluke that they were 10-2. But we just outplayed them, and literally we played with just five guys for three quarters. I was really impressed that our guys had the legs and the wind that you needed to play that long.”

RKA is now 11-2 on the season, but it was this game that left Reingold most impressed with his team.

“This is the best we’ve played in two years,” said Reingold, whose team captured the Bronx B-1 Division crown last season. “It was a complete game. Certainly we’ve played a half better than this and quarters better than this. But we’ve never played this level of basketball for this length of time, and this was against a very good opponent.”

The Tigers had a very balanced attack in the win, led by senior guard Will Feldman who set the pace with 20 points. Jayden Lewis added 18 points, Kai Parris had 17, Kham Nicholson finished with 10, and Justin Quinn chipped in with eight points.

It was a litmus test of sorts for RKA, which is just a win away from clinching the division for a second straight year, and was looking for some more robust competition to prepare for the upcoming playoffs.

“It was a good test,” Reingold said. “You certainly don’t want to lose those kind of games. It had somewhat of a playoff atmosphere, and you want to step up and play well in those moments. But I was more interested in the way we played, not so much the score. 

“If you had told me we’d beat a good, solid B team by 25, I’d say we’re not good enough. But we played just really solid basketball.”

RKA is now off until Jan. 31, and will play its final four regular-season games in a span of eight days.

“Those games are going to be tough because three of them are on the road,” Reingold said. “I don’t think those teams are just going to lay down for us.”

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