New York City's top female hoopster takes Bergtraum to another state title
When we first met Crystal McFadden, she had just helped lead Murry Bergtraum High School to the 2002 New York State Federation Class A Tournament title -- a story we related in last summer's issue of Gball.
The team had come together during the course of a season that began shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, just a few blocks from their school. After a few losses early in the year, the Lady Blazers found their stride and eventually rolled to their fourth consecutive New York Public School Athletic League Class A title. A victory over arch rival Christ the King brought them their first-ever State Federation Class A title and a No. 22 year-end ranking in USA Today's Super 25.
A recent note from a Gballmag.com reader reminded us that we needed to update Crystal's story. Would her senior year be as successful as last year's?
Believe it or not, Bergtraum and McFadden surpassed last season's results. The team went 30-0, picked up another PSAL title, won its second consecutive State Federation title -- beating Christ the King for the third straight season-- and finished ranked third in USA Today's Super 25. McFadden averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds per game, and was named a finalist for New York City Girls Player of the Year Award by the New York Daily News.
Despite Bergtraum's success, the 5-10 McFadden hasn't garnered the national attention you would expect. "I was disappointed she didn't get selected to McDonald's All-American game or WBCA All-Star Game," says Bergtraum Head Coach Ed Grezinsky. "We played a tough schedule this year, and we didn't duck anybody. She was named MVP after we won our bracket at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix. It's a mystery to me why she doesn't get more notice."
One person who did notice McFadden was University of Alabama-Birmingham Head Coach Jeannie Milling, who heavily recruited the swing player and signed her to a Letter of Intent last November.
"Crystal is an exceptional perimeter talent," said Milling after the signing. "She is a great athlete who handles the ball and is a tremendous slasher who scores from penetration or spotting up. Crystal is a consistent three-point shooter who excels in the transition game and rebounds on both ends of the court."
Grezinsky says McFadden was a little leery of the recruiting process. "Some girls like the idea of visiting lots of schools, but she wasn't interested," he says. "She went down to Alabama with her mother right before the season, and she really liked it and wanted to sign right away. I had advised her to wait, because if she had a great tournament, she might get more offers. But she wanted to get it over with."
Coincidentally, UAB's team is also called the Lady Blazers. To make McFadden feel even more at home next season, she'll be joined by two of her Bergtraum teammates, Tracy Wright and Carmen Guzman.
Grezinsky thinks McFadden will do great at the collegiate level. "She's athletic, she's strong, and it sounds like she'll be starting as a freshman," he says. "She's never sat on the bench -- she started for me from day one as a ninth grader."
"She was a great player for four years -- players like her don't come along too often," Grezinsky continues. "And we maximized what we had while she was here--we went 111-5, won four city championships, two state championships, and beat Christ the King three years in a row. That's a pretty good run."
Article written by Gball Associate Editor Jim Catalano.
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