Springfield Gardens still playing for Anthony Mason

By on March 8, 2015

Members of Springfield Gardens HS basketball team (seen here prior to playoff game last week) say they are trying to win a PSAL A division championship to honor the memory of former school star Anthony Mason, the former Knick who died last month.Neil Miller/for New York Daily News

Members of Springfield Gardens HS basketball team (seen here prior to playoff game last week) say they are trying to win a PSAL A division championship to honor the memory of former school star Anthony Mason, the former Knick who died last month.

Games mean a lot more in the playoffs, and the pressure tends to build even more when you’re playing for the memory of a school legend who went on to enjoy success in the NBA before dying suddenly at a relatively young age.

That was the situation Springfield Gardens was in on Sunday, when the Golden Eagles played a PSAL A division quarterfinal just days after the funeral for Anthony Mason, a former team member who was part of the heart and soul of the early- to mid-90s Knicks.

Springfield Gardens won on Sunday, beating Evander Childs, 69-63, at Cardozo HS in Queens. It was the team’s second game since Mason died on Feb. 28 at age 48. Coach Angelo Buono said his team is still drawing from the emotion of losing such a famously successful part of its past.

“The kids always ask me about him,” Buono said of Mason. “It’s always a great inspiration for our kids to see someone come from the same streets they came from, step in the same shoes they play in, and continue on to make it to the NBA.

“There was a lot of emotion in our last game,” he said, “and we have a lot of momentum going our way.”

The Golden Eagles will play Bedford Academy in the ‘A’ semifinals at Queens College next Sunday. Junior Joel Boyce led Springfield Gardens with 22 points.

Springfield Gardens trailed throughout the first half, falling behind 25-18 with 5:15 left in the second quarter. The Golden Eagles closed the half strong, using a 13-9 spurt led by junior point guard Daniel Charlton to pull within three at the half.

“We were stagnant and couldn’t really go on a run. We were kind of going back and forth,” Buono said. “We were scoring in bunches and we just so happened to go on a run at the right time.”

Former Knick Anthony Mason - No. 24 in the back row - played at Springfield Gardens HS, which is now in the PSAL A division semifinals. The Golden Eagles say they’re motivated by the memory of Mason, who died on Feb. 28 after suffering a heart attack weeks earlier.Neil Miller/for New York Daily News

Former Knick Anthony Mason – No. 24 in the back row – played at Springfield Gardens HS, which is now in the PSAL A division semifinals. The Golden Eagles say they’re motivated by the memory of Mason, who died on Feb. 28 after suffering a heart attack weeks earlier.

The game was tied at 47-47 heading into the fourth quarter before a dunk by Boyce seemed to ignite the fire that the Golden Eagles needed to pull ahead. They took the lead with 2:20 left in the game and didn’t look back, using a late 9-4 run to advance to the semifinals for the first time in five years.

“We came here four years straight and couldn’t do it, but I’m glad we broke that chain today,” Boyce said. “(Anthony Mason) is our motivation to win the championship in honor of him.”

Like Boyce, other Golden Eagles said Mason is what is motivating the team as it tries to win a title.

“Everything we do now is for him and his memory,” said Charleton.

Shamar Anderson led Evander Childs with 24 points.

In other PSAL quarterfinals at Cardozo, Bedford Academy beat Dewitt Clinton, 54-52, Francis Lewis squeezed by Lafayette, 54-53, and FDA defeated Holcombe Rucker, 62-44.

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