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October 6, 2012

iS8/Nike Tip-Off Classic (10/5)

SOUTH JAMAICA, NY - Action in Friday's double-header at iS8/Nike did not disappoint the hardwood faithful. One game was an overtime thriller between two household powers while the other was nowhere in the same range of excitement, but it nonetheless gave a lesser-known Long Island team a shot at taking down a well-known AAU program on a respectable stage.

NY Elite tops Ben Gordon All-Stars in OT, 70-65

When an iS8 defending champ squad takes on a New York State Federation finalist, it's safe to assume a trip to the Queens junior high school won't be a waste of time and petrol. And the teams put on a contest to ensure the spectators got something in return. Although BG All-Stars (Mt. Vernon High School) graduated many of last year's top stars, they set the tone early and gave a glimpse of the next batch of talent coming up through the vaunted program.

Tough junior forward, Brandon Martin (17 points), muscled his way inside for some buckets and good ball movement gave the Westchester squad a 20-12 advantage after one quarter. Seniors Jalen David and Jamal Lewis (9 points) helped out and by the middle of the second quarter, the BG All-Stars took a ten point lead, 26-16. But then the lack of big game experience began to show.

NY Elite (who are comprised primarily of players from Our Savior New American on Long Island) got a boost from improved senior point guard, Kevin Little. The Wyandanch native used the glass and broke down the Mt. Vernon defense to help get his team back in the fight. Back court mate Shavar Newkirk (Cardinal Hayes) chipped in and by 1:15 before the half, Little (who scored 11 of his 13 points in the second quarter) had lifted NY Elite to their first lead of the evening, 31-30, on a trey. NY Elite would hold a two point advantage at the half, but the tug-o-war was just beginning.

The third quarter saw four ties and eight lead changes as the teams tossed momentum back and forth. Junior forward Terry Larrier (who scored a team high 15 points for NY Elite) stepped up with scoring punch while Cheick Diallo (10 points) provided some defensive intimidation inside. But the BG All-Stars never folded during regulation, as senior floor general, Josh Doughty (10 points), picked up the slack offensively. David (who scored a game high 18 points) scored to give the BG All-Stars a five point lead in the fourth quarter, but they didn't have the antidote for Larrier, who brought NY Elite right back at their doorstep. Nonetheless, NY Elite appeared to be running out of gas after an airball from Little and a pair of costly travel calls late in the game with the score tied at 61. But the BG All-Stars couldn't take advantage, and eventually came up short in the extra session. NY Elite got to the stripe and shot 5-8 in the extra stanza, inching their way to the victory. Newkirk added 15 points for NY Elite, scoring 9 of them from the line.

PTP Elite Use Unselfishness to Silence Gauchos, 47-34

PTP Elite Coach Bobby Joyce pounded the importance of unselfishness into the craniums of his players after they dispatched a defensively scrappy Gauchos team.

"That's the way you win games in this league," he stressed.

Fortunately for PTP Elite's playoff hopes, his players knew that already and used that very tactic to leave iS8 with a 2-0 record.

The aforementioned Gauchos defense was so intense that even their coach became animated in a show of support. And momentarily, it worked. But their pressure was moot when faced with their on-going difficulty putting the rock through the net, and it wasn't long before PTP cracked the code. 6'9" senior Luke Petrosek (Northport HS) and 6'3" senior Mike Milligan (St. Dominic HS) began to sizzle for the Long Island squad and sparked a 10-0 run that gave them a 15-5 lead after eight minutes.

Sharing the ball became the name of the game for PTP, as they converted on a number of great passes to go up by as many as 16 points in the second quarter. Gauchos guards Schadrac Casimir and Isaiah Icee (9 and 12 points, respectively) put up a decent effort and coupled with rekindled defensive pressure, made it a 33-30 game at the end of the third quarter. But it seemed as if the only thing to trump great defense was great ball movement. PTP shared the ball beautifully in the final period, as all seven of their field goals came as a direct result of an assist .With each show of unselfishness, the smell of victory became stronger for PTP. Defensively, they took care of business as well - the long arm of Petrosek batted a number of Gauchos shots away from the cylinder. The NYC crew in turn went flat and were outscored 14-4 in the final eight minutes of action.

Petrosek and Milligan led PTP Elite with 16 and 15 points, respectively.


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