SOUTH JAMAICA, N.Y. -- At the iS8/Nike Spring High School Classic, only one game took place as travel teams hit the road for NCAA-sanctioned live period events.
Both 2GZ Entertainment-Steph and NYC Jazz (Brooklyn) were undermanned since some of the ball clubs' players opted for out-of-state exposure events with AAU programs. As a result, the contest featured some under-the-radar seniors as well as underclassmen.
Although it seemed as if the game's winner was decided by halftime, NYC Jazz made a desperation run that brought the team within striking distance. However, in the fourth quarter, Queens, N.Y.-based 2GZ Entertainment was able to do just enough to pull out the victory, 71-64.
Despite close play in the first phase, behind the major contributions of Isaiah King? (Paul Robeson (N.Y.) '14) and Pat Brown (Thomas Jefferson (N.Y.) '14) in the second quarter, 2GZ Entertainment catapulted ahead. Midway through the period, on a jumper by King, 2GZ nabbed a 17-point advantage, 35-18.
King and Brown combined for 21 points in the quarter. Brown finished with a game-high 25 points, while teammate King posted 22.
Despite NYC Jazz' DeVante Carolina (Benjamin Banneker (N.Y.) '14) getting a few shots off, it appeared that the hold 2GZ Entertainment had on the matchup created through its steals and transition offense was unbreakable.
By halftime, 2GZ led NYC Jazz by 18 points, 46-28.
Just when folks thought that NYC Jazz was cooked (since 2GZ Entertainment went into the locker room with the lead and the momentum), NYC Jazz came out with a renewed fight.
From the outset of the second stanza, NYC Jazz' approach to the 2GZ defense changed. In addition to going small with its rotation, instead of relying mainly on Carolina for offensive production, NYC Jazz shared the ball very well.
The consistent ball movement by NYC Jazz spread out the defense and opened other guards up for inside penetration and short jumpers.
Nicholas Colon (Teachers Prep (N.Y.) '14), who only scored two points in the first stanza, got involved immediately for NYC Jazz. Colon aided in keeping the margin stabilized after a bucket and, then, a 3-pointer to answer a trey from 2GZ' Charles Wingate (Hoosac (N.Y.) 15) early in the third period.
The brief 21-point advantage, 51-30, for 2GZ created by the Wingate trey before Colon responded with one of his own would be the largest margin of the contest. The Jazz sprang right into action, severely cutting that deficit to only nine points, 56-47, after a 17-5 run behind the efforts of Carolina and teammate Joel Modeste (Brooklyn Collegiate (N.Y.) '15).
Red hot and clicking on all cylinders in terms of player spacing and sharing the basketball, NYC Jazz closed the gap to four points, 58-54, in the fourth quarter following back-to-back buckets from Zavon Gibbs (Wingate (N.Y.) '14) as well as more offensive production supplied through Modeste.
Wingate created some space with a toughness basket at the rack, but NYC Jazz snipped the differential to one-possession, 65-62. Still, 2GZ was able to escape by holding the Jazz scoreless in the final minute of the game.
NYC Jazz' Carolina recorded a team-high 18 points, while Modeste added 17. Teammate Derrick Edwards (East New York Transit Tech (N.Y.) '14) had eight points, as Colon and Gibbs each chipped in seven.
Meanwhile, 2GZ Entertainment-Steph saw an 18-point, balanced effort from Wingate.