BRONX, NY - If you weren't on hand for the Nike Battle of the Boroughs tournament on Sunday, saying you missed out would be a vast understatement.
Judging by the attendance though, there weren't too many people not on hand. The stands were absolutely packed to the point spectators were standing in the upper levels of the famed Gauchos Gym in The Bronx. The atmosphere was that of a playoff game as the city's top high school talents put the pride of their respective borough on the line in a 1-day tournament for bragging rights. Here's a recap of the 1st round action:
Queens dethroned by the Bronx, 61-58
The Battle of the Borough's defending champs from Queens took on The Bronx in the day's first matchup. Early on, Queens showed everyone why they took the title a year ago. Headed by star point guard Jevon Thomas (13 points), the Q-Boro representatives jumped out on the hometown squad early.
Thomas was exceptional in the first half. He pushed the tempo and got all his teammates easy buckets as well as for himself. Thomas' play allowed Queens to jump out to a 13 point lead at the end of the first half. Queens was also backed with the versatile Malik Nichols who as always scored in a variety of ways at will.
The lead would balloon to as much as 19 in the second half. The Bronx had a rough time handling the ball as turnovers would lead to easy buckets for Queens. It looked like the makings of a blowout as The Bronx team could not make a major dent in Queens' lead. Insert: Shammgod Wells (5 points).
Known more for being the son of streetball legend God Shammgod, Wells defense on the Queens guards changed the whole spectrum of the game. The Bronx applied a full-court press late in the 3rd quarter, which rattled the Queens guards. After digging a 48-29 deficit, The Bronx outscored Queens 7-1 in the last minute of the 3rd and started the 4th on a 6-0 run. A three-pointer from Daniel Dingle (8 points) with 10 seconds remaining gave The Bronx their first lead of the game. After a pair of clutch free throws from Wells, Nichols missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer which sealed Queens' fate and The Bronx's victory.
Chris McCullough and Dennis Green led a very balanced Bronx attack with 11 points each. No one else on the team cracked double digits. Malik Nichols led all scorers with 19 for Queens.
Harlem goes uptown on Brooklyn, 66-61
They say "Manhattan keeps on making it and Brooklyn keeps on taking it." Well in Game 2 of the tournament, the Harlem squad refused to let the Brooklyn boys take a win from them. Armed with the nation's 5th ranked high school player in Kyle Anderson, Harlem stepped on the court ready to "make it" to the championship round.
Harlem jumped out to an 11-4 lead, despite a slow start from Anderson. Brooklyn did have the clear cut height advantage with Edson Avila (6 points) and 7'0" Jordan Dickerson. But more importantly, Brooklyn had Jeff Neverson. The 6'5" forward out of Boys & Girls caused problems for Harlem all night. Brooklyn swiped the lead from Harlem and ended the first half up 33-26.
Brooklyn's lead would balloon to as much as 12 in the second half but Harlem would find a way to climb back. Anderson was struggling from the field, but remained a factor by using his great basketball IQ and court vision to keep his teammates involved. Midway in the third, Anderson started to heat up and in the 4th, he was on fire. A couple and-1s from Anderson brought Harlem within 6.
Harlem would take their first lead of the 2nd half in the 4th behind the play of Anderson and Jevaune Dawson, who scored 8 of his 11 points in the 4th including some clutch free throws down the stretch. Neverson would finish up with a game-high 21 points but was the only one in double-figures for Brooklyn. Although Lincoln guard Isaiah Whitehead had a few scoring spurts, he'd only finish with 13 points for Brooklyn. Anderson had 19 points to lead Harlem to a victory and a meeting with their Uptown rivals, The Bronx.
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