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Ford rolls past Manhattan Center to fourth straight win

Shayra Brown is sick of hearing about it, but it never fails to rear its head. Every day, the Bishop Ford senior guard says, that someone brings up the Falcons’ loss to St. Francis Prep. It was the Terriers’ first league victory in two seasons and it came on the heels of Ford’s monumental win against powerhouse Christ the King.

“Everybody keeps referring back to it,” the Boston College-bound Brown said. “It’s like, how could we lose? After that game, we shouldn’t lose anymore. It shouldn’t happen.”

It hasn’t yet. After a 55-31 win against Manhattan Center last Saturday at the Aviator Winter Clash in Brooklyn, Ford has won four in a row since that loss to Prep %u2013 the last two against formidable PSAL opponents.

“I thought it was a wakeup call, to teach them to take every game seriously,” Falcons coach Mike Toro said of the Terriers defeat. “It doesn’t matter what it says on the jersey.”

Since then, Ford players have competed with chips on their shoulders. They beat Archbishop Molloy before Christmas, took out Woonsocket (R.I.) the following Monday and handled South Shore on Wednesday. And they’ve done it all without starting guard Shanice Vaughan (knee). The Falcons, ranked No. 9 in New York City by The Post, seem to be back on track.

“You could say it’s back, but I think we still have a lot of work to do,” Toro said.

Ford (9-1) got to work quickly against Manhattan Center (8-3). The Falcons started the game on a 14-2 run in which Brown had eight points, most of them in transition. Ford led by as much as 28-11 in the second quarter before Center chipped away. The Rams had chances to whittle their deficit to single digits multiple times in the second, but couldn’t do it.

“We missed 1,000 layups,” Manhattan Center coach Jaywana Bradley said. %u2026 “We were trying to dribble through people, they would get steals and we wouldn’t get back on defense.”

Ford’s defense has been the hallmark of its winning streak and that was no different Saturday. The Falcons pressured Rams star guard Aziza Patterson and crowded posts Brea Castro Gambrell and Nijah Lacourt, both of whom have stepped up big for Manhattan Center of late.

“Coach told us, we just have to stop the big girls,” St. Anselm-bound senior forward Vanessa D’Ambrosi said. “The big girls are their whole team.”

The physical play of Brittany Lewis and the length and size of 6-foot-3 center Brittany (Pookie) Martin were a serious deterrent inside.

“They may not be able to score as much as the other girls, but their size can scare a lot of teams out of doing what they want to do,” Toro said.

Brown led Ford with 21 points and fellow senior D’Ambrosi had 15 points. Castro Gambrell had 14 points and the Falcons held Patterson (four points) and Lacourt (two points) in check. In essence, it was everything Toro has been preaching.

“I think we’re one of the best defensive teams in the city,” Toro said. “If we play good defense, I think we can beat any team in the city.”

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