For years, South Bronx Prep coach Paul Campbell has never backed down from challenging his players by having them compete against schools in higher divisions. “Every year I want to challenge my kids to a more significant task I don’t care about any records, I don’t care about any of that, all I want to do is challenge my kids and prepare them for a preseason run”. Says Campbell
So far this season, the Cougars are 2-1 against the A division with wins against Dewitt Clinton and an excellent Grady team out of Brooklyn. The Cougars have proven that they can compete with A division teams, but a signature win over an AA team is something that they felt would make more noise. “Mentally I just told them to understand the magnitude of this game. They needed to know what winning this game would do for our school and our program, it’s a big deal when you have a B division school beat a team in the AA division”.
On Saturday February 2nd, the Cougars went up against James Monroe the No.3 team in the PSAL Bronx AA division as a part of the Garland Alston Memorial tournament. James Monroe was the perfect opponent for the Cougars, the third best team in the Bronx “AA” division with a league record of 9-4 and an overall record of 14-7. Players and coaches from both sides know each other well and Campbell felt right at home the 12-year head coach grew up In Bronx River houses which is a block away from James Monroe Campus.
The game was a highly competitive and low scoring affair where there were tons of ties and lead changes but the last few minutes of the fourth quarter was when the Cougars proved that they were better than most B division teams. Monroe rallied back from being down by six to take a 56-55 lead with 43 seconds remaining in the game. At that moment the Cougars found themselves in a tough situation and made a timeout to regroup. After the timeout, Sophomore guard Steven Turner found Junior Eric Davis for the game-winning three-point shot with 20 seconds left in the game to give them a 58–56 lead. With clutch free throws from senior forward Jordan Agyemang and team defense, the Cougars sealed one of their best wins in the schools’ history.
Agyemang who has experienced losing to Monroe for the past three years was excited to get the win in his last year but remained focus on his biggest goal a city title “We are happy to get this win finally, but at the same time we have bigger plans.”
The showed the Cougars how to approach different game situations, and they learned how to be resilient when they lost the lead. “I’m just proud that the kids accepted the challenge and stepped up, they didn’t give up. We had the lead then we lost the point but we didn’t quit, and we held it down. Eric made a big shot to seal the win, and Jordan hit big free throws which he has struggled with this season, and it’s amazing.
The South Bronx Prep Cougars are now 22-2 on the season and are currently ranked No.10 in the state and No. 2 in the city according to the NY State Sportswriters Association. With this recent win, the Cougars have made a statement, and that statement is they are willing to compete with anyone
At the half of Saturday’s game, Floyd “Showtime” Coleman a member of James Monroe’s 1990 city championship team was honored for his contributions to the Bronx River Community.