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October 20, 2013
SOUTH JAMAICA, N.Y. - On the first day of the iS8/Nike Fall Tip-Off Classic playoffs, spectators were treated to many different types of real-time game situations: a close-call, overtime, near comeback and blowout. The four contests on Saturday, played at Intermediate School 8, determined which teams will play division leaders, which received a one-round bye, on Sunday at Elmcor in Corona, N.Y.
With less squads, and teams more evenly matched, the first round of the playoffs created for a good day of basketball. With energy high, players left everything on the court. Some of the student-athletes who were hobbled by sprains or bruises played like nothing was hurting them, knowing that the preseason title at iS8 was on the line.
All in all, despite substantial margins between teams in two of the contests, there was dogfight in every player who either earned the 'W' to advance or took the 'L' on vacation with them.
Let's take a look at the four matchups.
King Street Kings (N.J.) Clips Team Price (N.Y.), 60-55, in O.T.
In the first half, Team Price, led by the hardworking Jerry Mejia (H.S. for Language and Diplomacy/Washington Irving Educational Campus (N.Y.) '14) and Tarik Allicock (Grand Street Campus (N.Y.) '14), seemed to dominate the game, holding an advantage of as much as seven points, 24-17. However, their production, though not slowed, was challenged by King Street Kings' David Runcie (Columbia High School (N.J.) '14).
Runcie helped keep his team's head above water during a crucial time in the game when Team Price could have put the squad away. Staying within striking distance at halftime, only trailing by five points, 27-22, other players on King Street Kings began to make their presence felt, aiding in tying the matchup at 31.
A lay-up by Runcie put King Street Kings ahead by a deuce, 33-31.
In the third quarter, King Street Kings' Alex Wightman (Ridge H.S. (N.J.) '14) played tough defense on Team Price. On the offensive end, Wightman surprised spectators with a colossal dunk on about three defenders. King Street Kings, however, fell back on their scoring, allowing Team Price to inch ahead by one point, 40-39, by the close of the period.
Early in the fourth phase, Team Price extended its advantage to three points, 42-39, before King Street Kings tied the contest at the 3:55 mark of the period. Team Price was still able to regain a three-point lead, 48-45, with 1:32 left in the quarter, but King Street Kings chipped the deficit down until it could earn a one-point advantage, 49-48, with 38 seconds remaining in regulation.
Mejia earned and sank a clutch free throw on Team Price's next possession, knotting the contest at 49. Great defense prevented both squads from capitalizing on the fourth quarter's final 35 seconds, sending the contest into overtime.
By the 3:45 mark of post-regulation, King Street Kings shot out to a four-point lead, 53-49, following a major throw-down by Wightman. Team Price was able to slice the deficit to as low as two points with around two minutes left in the game, but King Street Kings did just enough to go ahead of the competition by six points, 59-53, with 31 seconds left.
King Street Kings' Runcie finished with a game-high 20 points, while teammates Robert Gordon (Columbia H.S. (N.J.) '14) and Wightman added 13 and 10 points, respectively. Team Price's Allicock posted a team-high 18 points, while Mejia had 17.
NIA Prep (N.J.) Outlasts All Long Island Srs. (N.Y.), 58-49
All Long Island Seniors, which comprises seniors, as its team name suggests, from various Long Island, N.Y. high school basketball programs, faced off against a gritty NIA Prep. All Long Island Srs. was stacked with solid talent and collectively held off NIA Prep as long as it could. In fact, led by Tristan Brown (Elmont H.S. (N.Y.) '14), All Long Island Srs. effectively met the challenge of NIA Prep until the second half when NIA Prep broke the game wide open.
All Long Island Srs. led by as much as six points, 17-11, in the first half. NIA Prep crept in as close as one point, 24-23, before using a mini-run to take the lead. NIA wrapped up the last moments of the stanza with back-to-back putbacks by Nasir Akram (NIA Prep (N.J.) post-grad) and Keywon Savage (North Central (N.J.) '14).
NIA Prep led 27-24 at halftime.
In the opening minutes of the third quarter, NIA Prep used a 13-4 surge to take a 12-point advantage, 40-28. All Long Island Srs.' Iona-commit Dwayne Daniel (Lawrence H.S. (N.Y.) '14) plugged the leak with a bucket, paving the way for his Long Island team to chop the deficit to a workable seven points, 40-33. However, NIA Prep's Jonathan Frazier (NIA Prep (N.J.) post-grad) quickly answered before All Long Island Srs. could stage a substantial run.
NIA Prep went on to extend its advantage to as much as 14 points, 51-37, on a basket by Ramon Wright (Irvington H.S. (N.J.) '14) with about five minutes left in the game. Still having plenty of time to stage a comeback, All Long Island Srs. was able to narrow the margin to as little as six points, 51-45, with about two minutes remaining.
Having one last run in them, NIA Prep kept All Long Island Srs. at bay by scoring seven unanswered points. That final run served as the knockout against All Long Island Srs., as NIA Prep went up by 13 points, 58-45, with a few ticks still left in the game.
NIA Prep's Savage posted a game-high 25 points, recording the highest individual point total of the playoff's first round. Teammates Frazier and Wright netted 17 and six points, respectively. Meanwhile, All Long Island Seniors' Brown finished with a team-high 14 points, while Daniel recorded 12. Teammate Jonathan Grimsley (Valley Stream Central (N.Y.) '14) added seven points.
The City (N.Y.) Barrels Through the young Rens (Red), 80-62
The Rens' youth played a part. The City's multiple options played a supporting role. But The City's intense defense was the star of the game. The Rens (N.Y.), which hung in with some talented squads in the tournament, struggled with The City's veteran players, who could both score and force an abundance of turnovers.
However, despite the major 18-point blowout, there were some positive things to be said of The Rens (Red), who were inundated with freshmen and sophomore players.
The City exploded from tip-off, going on a 17-0 run early in the first quarter. Each time The Rens got their hands on the ball, it was stolen, fumbled or swatted away on shot attempts. The City's intense pressure defense did not leave any gaps, holes or space for The Rens to pass, create or get shots off. It wasn't until late in the warm-up phase that The Rens began to put some points on the board.
As a result, the first quarter ended with The City leading by 20 points, 29-9.
In the second period, it was more of the same, as The City more than doubled its first half output, heading into halftime with a 35-point advantage, 56-21. All of The City's primary players had recorded points in the scorer's book, with Devyn Wilson (South Shore (N.Y.) '14) leading the way with 17 first-half points.
Sometimes, when a team gives its opponent a pounding, it wears itself out. And that is what seemed to happen to The City by the third quarter, as the squad began to miss shots it was making in the first half.
Conversely, The Rens, who refused to show a defeatist attitude through the entire game, used the third quarter as a springboard to cut the deficit down. Led by the gutsiness of the lionhearted Jordan Walker (LuHi (N.Y.) '17), who's about 5-foot-5, and the toughness of the 6-foot-4 Dwayne Thomas (Erasmus H.S. (N.Y.) '17), who had to play the role of center, The Rens slashed The City's lead to 20 points, 68-48.
During the course of the fourth quarter, the freshmen continued to steal the show, narrowing the deficit to as low as 15 points, 72-57, after three plays by Walker and a 1-of-2 performance at the line by his sophomore teammate Tyrone Cohen (Christ the King H.S. (N.Y.) '16).
Of course, with such a huge hole it fell into in the first half and The City doing just enough to stave off their young, feisty opponents, The Rens did not have the time to stage a comeback.
The City's Wilson finished with a game-high 21 points, while teammate Doudmy Saint Hilaire (South Shore (N.Y.) '14) and Donnell Clayton (South Shore (N.Y.) '14) netting 14 and 12 points, respectively. For The Rens (Red), Walker and Thomas each recorded the team-high of 13 points, while Cohen added nine.
2GZ Strong-Arms J.Y.O., Advances @ iS8
It is always a pleasure to watch when two New York-based squads clash and engage in an intense, grind-it-out battle on the hardwood of Intermediate School 8. As part of the iS8/Nike Fall Tip-Off Classic, a power struggle erupted between 2GZ Entertainment and J.Y.O., which is composed of players from Benjamin Cardozo High School (Bayside, N.Y.), in the first round of playoffs on Saturday.
Both teams were locked in and seemed to be evenly matched, bringing heat to the hardwood from start to finish. However, J.Y.O. unraveled down the stretch when turnovers, ill-advised shots and poor ball movement proved costly. As a result, 2GZ Entertainment advanced to the second round of the one-and-done tourney, 66-59.
Because of sturdy defense by the squads, the pendulum did not swing too far in either direction for much of the contest.
Early in the second quarter, 2GZ tied the matchup at 11. J.Y.O.'s Francisco Williams (Benjamin Cardozo (N.Y.) '14), off a feed from teammate Jaquan McKennon (Benjamin Cardozo (N.Y.) '15), lifted the squad by a deuce, 13-11. However, 2GZ guard Shaq McFarlan (St. Anthony's (N.J.) '14; formerly of Abraham Lincoln H.S.) made his opportunity at the charity stripe count, sinking 2-of-2 from the line.
Will Valdez (Boys & Girls H.S. (N.Y.) '14) drained a 3-pointer from NBA range for 2GZ to take a three-point lead, 16-13. McKennon responded by nailing a trey of his own to tie the game at 16. With about two minutes left in the period, teammate Williams created off the bounce for a nice two to add to his squad's tally. The play resulted in J.Y.O. taking a one-point advantage, 19-18.
J.Y.O. still led by one point, 24-23, with 1:07 remaining before halftime. Coming right back at them, Tenie Johnson (God's Academy (Texas) post-grad) lifted 2GZ to a 25-24 lead. However, just like 2GZ, J.Y.O.'s motor had not slowed down - a bucket by Williams and a 1-of-2 performance from the charity stripe by teammate Elijah McNeely (Benjamin Cardozo (N.Y.) '15), elevated J.Y.O. by three points, 28-25, with 22 seconds left in the stanza.
J.Y.O led 28-25 at halftime.
For much of the third quarter, it was more of the same as J.Y.O.'s Ray Salnave (Benjamin Cardozo H.S. (N.Y.) '16) began helping out Williams with scoring duties. In fact, in the last few minutes of the period, J.Y.O. led by three points, 38-35.
Sustaining his dynamic form, Valdez sank a deuce and a trey to knot the contest at 40. His game play seemed to be exactly what 2GZ needed to break the momentum of J.Y.O., as 2GZ went on to wrap up a 6-0 run with a six-point advantage, 46-40. J.Y.O.'s McNeely made both of his free throw opportunities to cut the deficit to four at the close of the period.
Although a free throw by Williams would cut the deficit to three points, 48-45, that would be as close J.Y.O. would get to 2GZ for the duration of the game. Once 2GZ saw that J.Y.O. was getting frustrated with missed shots, fouls and turnovers, the squad pushed on the gas a little harder, clicking on all cylinders to gain as much as a nine-point advantage, 58-49, following free throws by Valdez.
For 2GZ Entertainment, Valdez netted a team-high 18 points, 10 in the second half, while Johnson added 14 points, 12 in the first-half grind. Also for 2GZ, McFarlan recorded 13 points, 11 in the second stanza, while teammate Tyshawn Roy (North Forsyth H.S. (N.C.) '14) chipped in nine.
J.Y.O.'s Williams posted a game-high 20 points, while Salnave netted 15. Teammate McKennon added 10 points.
New York NEWS