Boys' Latin cruises past Maritime in Christmas tournament
Jamar Brisbon scores a game-high 13 to lead his team into today's semifinals against Olney Charter.
JAMAR BRISBON knew he would be here someday. Well, not exactly here per se.
Boys' Latin actually had no clue it would play Maritime Charter yesterday at the Gustine Recreation Center until the Constitution Christmas Tournament found a late opening.
BL's schedule lost three opponents in 2 days, second-year head coach R.J. McDaniel said, after three teams asked out because of roster and scheduling issues.
So, a matchup with Central would have fit until McDaniel was notified on Tuesday that his 3A Division B squad would face 2A Division E Maritime.
The result was an 80-34 snoozer, but Brisbon, who scored a game-high 13 points, still found himself where he thought he'd be.
"I don't want to say [my teammates] feed off me, because we're in this together," the 18-year-old senior said. "But, at the same time, I'm the leading scorer on the team, so when it comes to crunch time, they expect me to do a lot."
This wasn't that game. Twenty-six Maritime turnovers made sure of that. The much-too-frequent one-on-one dribbling exhibitions that produced many of those miscues didn't help.
Boys' Latin will face Olney Charter today at 5 p.m. in the tournament's semifinals.
After playing understudy to Maurice "Doo-Wop" Watson and Yahmir Greenlee as a sophomore and junior, Brisbon, a 6-3 guard/forward has finally stepped into a leadership role.
"He always allowed seniors to be the go-to guys," McDaniel said. "I think this year he wants the ball at the end of games."
"Junior and senior year," Brisbon said, "that's when I really came into my own and started going to the gym myself, because I knew eventually this would be my team."
In the offseason, he spent Saturday and Sunday mornings with his uncle, Ervin Hook, at a gym near 5th Street and Allegheny Avenue, near his North Philly home on 7th Street near Broad Street and Erie Avenue.
Watson scored 2,356 points at BL and is currently a 5-10 sophomore guard at Boston University. Greenlee finished with 1,403 points and is a 5-10 freshman guard at Division II Nyack in New York.
Brisbon said he learned the most from Watson, whom he spelled off the bench as a sophomore.
"He just told me to play with confidence and not let the crowd get me rattled," he said. "He helped me build a lot of my confidence."
Boys' Latin (8-1) has benefited this season from quality victories over Inter-Ac opponents Penn Charter and Germantown Academy. Brisbon also poured in 28 points in a win over John Bartram.
With a nice, midrange shooting touch, Brisbon is a dual threat with the ability to post up and score down low. McDaniel said his go-to guy carried the team late against Bartram.
"Last year, he just liked to be part of the team," McDaniel said. "This year, he realizes part of his role is to sometimes be the guy that takes the game over."
Brisbon started playing in about seventh grade, when the father of current teammate Charles Presley coached the North Philly Aztecs. Brisbon said he developed big-man skills because he was the tallest player on the team.
Presley, a senior point guard, finished with nine points, five rebounds, four assists and five steals yesterday. Pasquale Dimascio added 11 points and six boards.
Akeem Roberts led Maritime with nine points. However, his team netted only five assists and trailed, 28-7, after one quarter and, 51-13, at intermission.
Several offensive possessions deteriorated into singular attacks by guards, which led to rolled eyes and palms-up shoulder shrugs by Maritime forwards.
"We didn't play down to that level," Brisbon said. "We just played how we normally play, because we work hard at practice every day."
He added: "Being with your teammates is like having another family. Everybody just cracks jokes, and it's never personal. We're just always together."
His work ethic has led to college looks from Cabrini, Rosemont and Dickinson, Brisbon said.
Little would make his mother, Betty Brisbon, 44, more proud. In fact, he said his high school graduation date, June 9, will be his mother's 45th birthday.
"My family has done so much for me, and I just want to give it all back to them," he said. "My mom especially. She's a single parent, so I just do it for her."
He continued, "Just seeing her face the day I graduate, I just know she'll be proud of me, because she knows I'm so committed."
That commitment included some tough choices, and accepting the challenge of leadership.
"In the middle of my junior year, I just realized that this would be me," Brisbon said. "I just stopped hanging out with a lot of people that I wasn't supposed to be hanging out with, and I'm proud of that, because I could be somewhere else right now. But I'm happy that I'm here, and I'm happy playing basketball with my team, and I just love it. I'm thankful for it."