ARDSLEY, NY - Championship Sunday at the 17u Basketbull Summer Championships was full of drama with big names and big teams making it to the quarterfinals. College coaches were out in full force once again to catch the action, and see a surprise team bring home the trophy.
The day got started with some close games in the quarters, but also some blowouts as well. The anticipated All-NY matchup between The City and the Westchester Hawks turned out to be a blowout with Samuel Dingba and Danny Upchurch (Putnam Science Academy, CT '14) using a fast paced up and down tempo to hold down and contain Eric Paschall for the most part. The Hawks led by as many as 25 and coasted to the easy win.
CBC and the Rhode Island Hawks easily had the most college coaches in attendance to see star big man Pascal Chukwu go head to head with 6'10"Sem Kroon (Northfield Mt. Hermon, MA '14). The matchup didn't disappoint, and neither did the game as the game went down to the wire. Secondary players for CBC, who may not get as much attention as Chukwu, ended up making the difference. Obi Momah (Farmington, CT '14) hit a couple critical jumpers late, showing off an impressive skill set at 6'7" to help propel CBC to the win.
Juice would easily blow past the Rhode Island Hawks 2015 team with ease as Isaiah Whitehead showed again that unless you really double him with authority to get the ball out of his hands, he cannot be stopped.
The last quarter saw USAD beat up on Maine MAC.
The semifinals were played at the same time on courts right next to each other. A good 30 Division 1 coaches were in attendance to watch and scout the two games.
Juice took on USAD in one semi and it was a game controlled by one team from start to finish. It was USAD from Connecticut though that did the handling going up 13-2 right out of the gate and never really losing control of the game after that.
Isaac Vann (Bunnell, CT '14) didn't even have an impact on the game either for USAD. As the team's primary scorer, it's Vann who teams usually try to shut down, but foul trouble did that for Juice. The problem was the Brooklyn based squad was that so many others stepped up and had major games for USAD. Chris Donaldson (Westhill, CT '14), a rangy 6'8" combo forward, was a terror from both the wing and the inside where he gave the Juice bigs all sorts of trouble. With Vann in foul trouble it was 5'9" point guard Schadrac Casimir (South Kent, CT '14) who took the offensive reigns. He was on from start to finish with a near impossible to stop pull up jumper.
The other issue was outside of Whitehead, nobody really had an offensive rhythm for Juice, Desi Rodriguez started to get hot late getting himself to the bucket in transition, but it was too late. Juice was down by as much as 23 in the game, and did cut it to 9 a couple times late, but they could get no closer losing by 13.
Casimir had 20 for the winners, while Whitehead poured in 26 in the loss.
The other semi was a tight one that went down to the final seconds between CBC and the Westchester Hawks.
The Hawks struggled early on, not because of the presence of Chukwu, but because of the perimeter shooting of CBC. Levi Gillespie (Capitol Prep, CT '14) and Eric Rankin (Stratford, CT '14) were hitting from beyond the arc in bunches. The Hawks cut what was an 11 point early lead for CBC to just 4 at halftime because of the steady play and shooting of Dalique Mingo (Putnam Science Academy, CT '14) and John Dewey (Scanlan '13) who kept them in the game.
CBC opened the 2nd half on a 7-0 run to reopen the gap, but Westchester didn't falter. Dingba, who was saddled in foul trouble in the opening half, was much more assertive inter block and challenged Chukwu around the rim, and won most of the 1 on 1 matchups. As a matter of fact, it seemed like as the Hawks got more confident driving to the rim, the better they played. Westchester took their first easier the game with 6 minutes to go when Dewey hit a beautiful scoop driving in. They went up 55-50 with 2 minutes to go, but CBC fought back, Momah hit in a outback, and that was followed by a Gillespie jumper to bring it to 55-54. A bad turnover by Westchester gave CBC a shot in the closing seconds, but with just 5 fouls and 8 seconds left, the Hawks never allowed CBC a shot as the clock ran out before CBC could get off anything besides a long three at the buzzer, and Westchester made it 2 upsets in the semis grabbing the win.
Dingba didn't have a dunk, but he played a fantastic 2nd half, scoring 12 of his 14 in the 2nd. Mingo added 13 as well. Gillespie led CBC with 19, and Chukwu who had played so good for the most part this weekend struggled to finish with just 2 points.
So the championship game was set. USAD vs. Westchester Hawks. Maybe not the matchup people were expecting coming into the day, but it was a great one to close the day.
The Hawks went up 12-4 in the early going highlighted by a pair of threes from nice looking 6'5" rising senior Jalen Terry (Putnam Science Academy, CT '14). Westchester for as good as they were playing offensively, they struggled to defend Vann who was able to get to the rim, shoot from long range, basically do just about anything he wanted offensively. There want much defense from either team though as Terry and Vann had 17 apiece to lead there teams, and it was Westchester with the 42-40 halftime lead.
The 2nd half started out all USAD. Vann scored the first 6 points of the quarter to give his team their first lead of the game. The perimeter play of the Hawks cooled down with Terry, Mingo, and Dewey, not as sharp early in the 2nd. Dingba was ferocious. He threw down 6 dunks in the second stanza, igniting the play of his team. Vann though became basically unstoppable, and really proved that with a spinning fall away jumper that was all net midway through the half. He helped USAD build a 64-53 lead with 6:30 to play.
Westchester wouldn't quit through. Dingba, who is a real game changer offensively, stepped up his defense and swatted a pair if Casimir drives, and it led to easy transition buckets, something the Hawks weren't getting much of. From down 11, the Hawks cut it to 70-66 with 2:30 to go when Upchurch finished off a lefty drive. The defense was stepping up and momentum did seem to be on the Hawks side. Dingba connected on a tip in with 24 seconds left to make it 72-70, but 3 straight points finished it off as Westchester could get no closer as USAD took the 17u Basketbull Summer Championship by defeating the Westchester Hawks, 75-72.
Vann was unstoppable as he had a game high 35 points with many mid major coaches watching intently. Casimir added 14 as well for the champs. Dingba led the Hawks in defeat with 22, while Terry had 19.
A great weekend of action culminating in a worthy champion in Connecticut's USAD.
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