The Wolverines have won in a variety of ways over the course of Bronx Science’s current nine-game winning streak. They’ve won close games. They’ve won ugly games. And they also have seen their fair share of blowout victories.
But the one consistent ingredient during that span has been the play of point guard Sarang West. Night in and night out, the crafty junior turns in one solid performance after another. Three times during the winning streak West has topped 20 points, including a 30-point performance against old nemesis Mott Haven.
So when the Wolverines were slogging their way through a low-scoring playoff game with Hunter last week, who do you think came to the rescue once again?
This time around West knocked down a trio of three-balls and finished with a game-high 21 points as Bronx Science got by Hunter 39-27 in a first-round Public School Athletic League playoff game.
“I’ve been on a good, consistent run here and I feel I’ve been able to put up a good number of points,” West said.
Bronx Science head coach Michael Mei has seen tremendous growth in his point guard this season, and points to her as one of the main reasons for the Wolverines’ success.
“One of the definite bright spots this year has been her consistency,” Mei said. “That’s the one thing I’m most proud of about her this season. Last year, at times, she was up and down and I didn’t know what I was going to get from her. But this season I pretty much know what I’m getting.
“I think for the most part she has played very even-keeled. She just goes about her business and she’s been huge for us.”
The fourth-seeded Wolverines led just 16-14 at halftime, and West admitted that perhaps they were caught looking past No. 29 Hunter.
“Our shots just weren’t falling early, but I think we also came into this game a little too, well, we anticipated a win a little too much,” West said. “So at halftime we talked about how we needed to refocus because now it’s playoff basketball. We can’t take anything for granted. The seedings don’t really show the entire story, so we just said we had to start playing to our level now, because we were playing to their level too much.”
Bronx Science was finally able to put some distance between it and the Hawks in the third quarter when they built a 31-21 lead heading into the fourth quarter, and held on from there. The Wolverines are now off until Feb. 26 due to winter break. And it couldn’t come at a better time.
“I think it has its benefits,” said West, who is averaging 15.2 points per game during the winning streak. “It’s going to help a lot of us get that rest that we need from school. We’ve all had a lot of tests recently because of winter break, so this is definitely a good time to relax.”
Jefferson, the 13th-seeded team in the playoffs, will head to Bronx Science on the other side of the break. And while West knows little about the team out of Brooklyn, Mei thinks they should make for a very formidable opponent.
That’s because Jefferson knocked off Mott Haven to reach the second round.
“That was a fascinating game,” Mei said. “I didn’t think that should have been a first-round matchup. I thought Jefferson was seeded a lot lower than what I thought they should have been. I actually had Jefferson in the top 10. They are a really, really good team. The only two losses they have in league play was to the No. 1 overall seed,” the Brooklyn High School for Law and Technology.
The contest with Jefferson might prove to be the Wolverines’ toughest assignment this season.
“We’re definitely going to be challenged, and I think this game could definitely swing either way,” Mei said. “They certainly have the firepower to beat us. But I think we’re capable of giving them a good punch as well. It should definitely be a very good game.”
A victory over Jefferson would vault the Wolverines into the PSAL quarterfinals for the first time in two years. But to get there, West knows she can’t be doing all the heavy lifting on the offensive end. She’ll need a little help from her friends.
“That would definitely help a lot if somebody else would kind of step up as well,” West said. “But once we get back into that groove that we had in the middle of the season — where everybody was hitting their shots — I think we’ll be fine.”