Murry Bergtraum wins emotional 14th consecutive PSAL title
LOIS ELFMAN Special to the AmNews | 3/22/2012, 3:30 p.m.
Although the Murry Bergtraum High School Lady Blazers won their 11th, 12th and 13th consecutive PSAL Class AA city championships, coach Ed Grezinsky said this was the year everyone counted them out and said it couldn't happen. On Saturday, when he hoisted the trophy for the 14th straight year, Grezinsky's statement was finally 100 percent true after an improbable, hard-fought 56-48 win over the McKee/Staten Island Technical High School Seagulls.
Senior guard Shequana Harris may have taken home MVP honors, but, tragically, the most influential player on the Lady Blazers wasn't in the arena. Tayshana "Chicken" Murphy, who was shot and killed last September, was everywhere in Madison Square Garden: on the T-shirts that read "We Will Never Forget Our Captain," on homemade photo collages and in a framed photo kept near the bench.
"She was part of this team--in our hearts and in our souls," said Grezinsky. "We dedicated our season to her...This is what she wanted. Unfortunately, she can't be here. Without the fact of her, I don't think we could have done it."
Murphy received the same individual trophy that each team member got, which her father, Taylonn, accepted. After the game, he spoke about how Grezinsky and the players helped him get through his loss. "I thank Coach G, I thank the girls and I thank God," he said.
The Bergtraum faithful were out in force for the Saturday morning game. "We all knew they were coming back," said student Lyndel James.
"I had faith in them and I'm glad they made it," concurred fellow student Tiffany Marine.
"We've been very supportive in terms of talking with them, encouraging them to keep going," said Eloise Jordan, mother of senior guard Kendra Jordan.
Peter LaMarca, coach of the Seagulls, praised the Lady Blazers' performance. "We gave them a helluva run," he said. "They earned that championship this year."
Harris, who scored 22 points, said when her team fell behind, she told her teammates to stay focused. "I said, 'We can't let her down. We've got to win this game.'"
"They compete, they defend and they get here every year. Even when people count them out, they make it," said Janice Coe, mother of senior guard Dionne Coe. "They have a lot of pride, wanting to keep the legacy going."