PATERSON, NJ - With five minutes left in Monday's state sectional final, Eastside High point guard David Burgos spun past one Kennedy High player, cut between two others and then dished off to center Ky're Jackson who sank a fade-away jumper.
The play, which culminated in raucous chants of “East-side,” made it look like Burgos and Jackson had been playing together for years. But that's not the case. Burgos transferred to the Paterson school this season from New York City and it took some time for him and his new teamates to mesh.''
“From the beginning of the season, he'd pass me the ball, I couldn't handle it,'' said Jackson, "but at practice we worked on that. Now we have a good communication, good chemistry.”
That chemistry, with Burgos as the man stirring the pot, has put Eastside in the North Jersey Group IV finals against Linden on Wednesday.
Throughout Monday's 68-51 win over Kennedy, Burgos was the key man for the Ghosts. A lay-up. A steal. Another lay-up. He ended up with a game-high 25 points.
The pressure of playing in a state tournament final against a cross-town rival that had just beaten his team in the Passaic County finals might seem daunting for a player new to Paterson.
“I felt like I played hard, I was aggressive in both halves, and got my team involved,” Burgos said after the game.
No one else was more involved than Jackson, who had 20 points. After the senior center scored the first three baskets of the first quarter, Eastside never let go of the lead.
“That was the key to the game,” Jackson said he was told by Head Coach Juan Griles after the game. “Coach told me if I made layups then we'd win the game, so that was my main focus: to rebound and make layups.”
Not much time went by when both players wer not on the floor, except when Griles pulled all his starters with a minute and a half to go and the game in the bag.
Burgos, the team through whom just about every play went through, had a few difficult moments in the contest, including an air-ball in the third quarter. He also was double-teamed just about the whole game.
Still, he didn't let that affect him either.
“I kept my head up. I listened to my coach who told me 'keep playing, keep playing,'” Burgos said.
Beating Kennedy made the sectional championship a little sweeter for the Ghosts, as they avenged the county final defeat nine days earlier.
“After they won they had the bragging rights,” Jackson said, “they were the talk of the town and we took that personal and used it today.”
All both players want to do now is continue to roll along.
“That is the goal,” Burgos said, “now we got to keep playing.”