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December 22, 2013
Wadleigh Christmas Classic Marquee Matchups
NEW YORK, NY - The annual Wadleigh Rucker Christmas Classic was held on Saturday, and there were three marquee games that stood out, and in front of a packed crowd, the action did not disappoint. Here is a recap of the three main games from Harlem.
Spring Valley Flattens W.H.E.E.L.S. 74-69
Spring Valley head coach Willie Worsley was a legend back in his day when he was a guard at Clinton H.S. in the Bronx, but his chances to come down and coach his Tigers down this way are few and far between, so he said going in that he wanted to enjoy this one.
"I'm from NYC and love playing in NYC. I came down here to have fun, and I told my team that you don't have fun when you lose," Worsley said.
While it was not looking good early on with W.H.E.E.L.S. controlling the action, and leading going into the break, junior Kai Mitchell alive with 17 second half points to rally the Tigers back for the win.
Spring Valley was up three after one when Wolves guard Eulogio Medina scored on a beautiful runner in the lane while getting fouled. He came down hard on his ankle and was hobbling for basically the rest of the way. Medina though understood the importance of the game for his group, and he wasn't about to come out.
"It hurt a lot and it was difficult to play on it at times, but I had to put it out if my mind. They were a hard team and I needed to stay in for us," Medina said about the injury,
That runner, plus his grit and determination sparked W.H.E.E.L.S. on an 11-0 run to see them go up 28-20 with 5:10 to go in the opening half. Mitchell was struggling mightily for Spring Valley, settling for outside shots, and not mixing it up on the inside against Wolves big man, Drexel bound Tyshawn Myles. Manhattan bound junior guard Rickey McGill stepped up his game though. He carried the Tigers for long stretches at a time, scoring 16 in the opening half, but it was his lack of help that hurt them most, as it was W.H.E.E.L.S. at the half who were up, 37-32.
Worsley understood to have a chance, he needed more offensive than just from McGill. They were without starting center Jordan Duncan already, as he didn't make the trip down, and Mitchell was held to a goose egg in the first 16 minutes. Worsley just wanted Mitchell though to play like he wants him to.
"I think Kai saw the other team's big man and decided to stay on the outside, but that's not his game. He had to take his butt inside, and once he did that I knew he would be ok," Worsley said.
Impressively that is exactly what happened. Mitchell decided to get back inside and fight in the paint with Myles. He started having success finishing around the rim, and he was much more aggressive defensively, something Mitchell said was key to the game in the end.
"I needed to be aggressive. I made sure I stayed inside more, and did what I needed to do for the team," Mitchell said about his 2nd half.
He was a different player, and with 3:29 left in the 3rd, after a Jamar Joseph three ball, Spring Valley took the lead what proved to be for good.
One reason why W.H.E.E.L.S. ultimately struggled so much in the 2nd half, was the lack of making shots. From the perimeter the Wolves were getting what they normally got from guard Eddy Polanco, and while Emile Lewis came up and tried to do what he could to keep the game close late, it wasn't enough, and W.H.E.E.L.S. head man Josh Krinsky gave credit to the Spring Valley defense for keeping them out if their rhythm.
"We like to attack the basket, but they played a 2-3 zone in us which hindered us from getting inside, and we weren't hitting outside shots," Krinsky said.
While he stressed the defense that Spring Valley played hurt them, he also made note of the missed FT's, especially late when they got the deficit to within 2 as critical.
"Missed free throws hurt, and they were plays you could look back and say were big. A play here or play there and I think we could've won,". Krinsky stated.
In the end though it was Spring Valley who stayed calm late, and made their FT's to capture the 74-69 victory.
McGill had a game high 25 points, while Mitchell added 17 for Spring Valley. Lewis paced W.H.E.E.L.S. with 24, including 5 threes, while Medina, even with one bad leg, had 17 in the defeat.
Worsley wanted to come back to NYC and get a win in a town where he made his name, but it ended up being more than that in the end, because he finally thinks he got his team to understand what he wants of them, which could be the first step in a special season for the Tigers.
""We stayed organized, and for the first time so far this season they listened to me, and they showed heart. Hopefully we can build on this and make this a great year."
Wadleigh preys on Brooklyn Collegiate, 62-59
The Tigers have been the Kings of Manhattan for a long time, and for one of the first times this year, they are being challenged. They lost to TMA last week, and looked vulnerable coming into this one against Brooklyn "AA" power Brooklyn Collegiate, but the host team Wadleigh got reinforcements back from the ineligible list for this one and it showed as they played their best of the year and upset the # 9 ranked Lions, 62-59.
It may not have always been pretty, but Wadleigh played solid defense, and managed to keep up with the physicality of Brooklyn Collegiate, with sophomore Chuba Ohams having a real coming out party.
It was a tight game late, and anyone's game, but David Rispers hit jumpers 3 straight times down the floor, and though Rashaad John hit a couple of big shots to keep the Lions in it late, Ohams hit critical FT's late.
Brooklyn Collegiate did have a shot to tie late. They have the ball and inbounded from midcourt with 1.8 seconds to go, but excellent defense saw Rispers steak the inbounds and assure the win for Wadleigh in what may be the start of something good for the Tigers in their 62-59 win.
Ohams led all scorers with 20 points on the day for Wadleigh, while Rispers added 13.
Brooklyn Collegiate couldn't get it going from start to finish. They struggled inside and out, and it was their lack of ability to finish that ultimately cost them. John led the way for the Lions with 10 points, with Davere Creighton adding 9.
It was a great win for Wadleigh, but according to Tigers coach Michael Crump, there is a lot to improve on still.
"We got everyone back today. Some guys had attendance issues. It's a good win but we have losses already and it's on them. I think we would be unbeaten had guys done what they needed to do, but that's something they have to deal with,"
He said he ultimately was impressive with Ohams, but feels everyone else need to still step up. It's a great start for what Crump hopes is a great rest of the season, but it's still a wait and see for the 10 year head coach.
Thomas Jefferson Outruns New Rochelle, 60-52
The Orange Wave are unbeaten in the Brooklyn "AA", and played Cardinal Hayes extremely tough so far this season, but Saturday's 8 point win was nothing for Jefferson coach Lawrence "Bud" Pollard to be proud of. He had a few kids he didn't feel had their heads in the game, and all because of sneakers.
"We played bad. Daquaise Andrews mom told me he didn't eat or sleep at all last night because he was trying to get the new Jordan's," Pollard said.
Devonte Wilson, who was one of the better Orange Wave players on the days also said guys maybe needed more sleep, and that maybe they overlooked New Rochelle a bit.
Sure, the Huguenots are the defending Section 1 "AA" champions, but Jefferson still looked like they were going through the motions. Jefferson went up by as many as 18, but they still didn't seem in their "A" game, and eventually New Rochelle fought their way back in it, and got within striking distance. It was pressure defense late they eventually put the game away for good, but Pollard felt this game could prove a valuable lesson for his squad.
"When you don't respect your opponent this is what happens. You have to play hard against everyone you play. We he them down and we took out foot off the gas, and they put there's on. You can't sleep on anyone and hopefully we get that after today," Pollard said.
Sophomore Shamorie Ponds led the way for Thomas Jefferson with 14 points, while Wilson added 13 as well in the win.
In defeat, it was Alex Tuci who paced New Rochelle with 15 points. Derek Dorn, also added 14 for the Huguenots in the defeat.
It wasn't pretty according to Pollard, especially in their last game before leaving for a tournament in Arizona after Christmas, but along with respecting who you play, he hopes his team learned one other thing.
"I hope they see that staying up for sneakers isn't worth it. I know I don't care about it. If I see anyone wearing Jordan's in Arizona, they are on the first flight back to Brooklyn that's for sure," Pollard said with a laugh.
He can laugh about it since they did get the win, but he certainly wants better showings he said from this point forward.
New York NEWS