BROOKLYN, NY - It wasn't just the boys who were competing for spots in the semifinals on Sunday at the Conrad McRae Youth League, the girls took the court too in hopes of advancing to next weekend.
There was one shocker on the day, while the other games showed that having elite level talent can pay off. It was a great day of games and here is a recap of Sunday's action from Dean Street Park.
D1 Bound Ring NY Belles, 51-37
Coach Mike Toro had his team come in on Sunday loaded with talent, and while they weren't as sharp as they could've been, it was California bound Bre Cavanaugh (Blair Academy, NJ '15) pacing a team full of Division 1 players with 14 points as they were able to keep the Belles at a distance and take the win.
D1 got off to a fast start going up 23-8 in the 2nd quarter, with Cavanaugh and Michigan commit Lauren Brozoski (Long Island Lutheran '15) able to get out in transition and really push the pace to their advantage. Seton Hall commit Taylor Byrne (Long Island Lutheran '15) was a force on the glass, and Andra Espinoza-Hunter (Blair Academy, NJ '17) while doubled for much of the game, was able to make her presence felt as a playmaker, getting others involved, finding open teammates for cutting baskets at the rim.
The Belles, who were without St. Francis (NY) commit, forward Lorraine Hickman (Floral Park '15) due to a Torn ACL, stayed within striking distance for most of the game, and they made a deep run in the 3rd quarter, with floor general Kiana Clark (Bishop Loughlin '15) able to find seams in the defense, and showing a solid midrange jumper to get her squad within 8 late in the 3rd.
Cavanaugh though came alive in the 4th scoring 8 of her points, while Byrne was a massive difference maker on the glass late as well as a 8-0 run early in the final quarter put the game away for good as D1 advanced to next Saturday with the 14 point win.
Cavanaugh had 14 for D1 Bound, while Brozoski and Byrne each added 11 apiece in the win. Clark had 16 to lead all scorers and pace the NY Belles, with Cynthia Perez (Christ the King '15) pouring in 10 in a solid performance.
Riverside Hawks Reverse Positive Direction, 59-46
Riverside was the 7 seed in the tournament and needed OT on Saturday just to get to this game, while Positive Direction was the 2 seed, and already had a win in their pocket against a loaded D1 Bound team. On Sunday though, Riverside came out on fire and took the game to Positive Direction from start to finish to comfortably take the 13 point win.
PD star guard Sierra Green (Francis Lewis '16) was late to arrive to the game and the team was forced to play without her in the opening quarter, and without her they couldn't find a rhythm, and had trouble getting free for open looks.
Riverside on the other hand did not have that problem. A team comprised of entirely St. Anthony's players, the Hawks were sharp early on with Ally Murphy '16 nailing an early three to get it all going, while Taylor Goode '16 was feeling it as well scoring 7 first quarter points, including a pair of drives where she was able to blow by her defender and score to see her team take a 6 point lead.
With Green in the lineup to start the 2nd though, Positive Direction scored the first 6 points of the quarter, with all 6 coming from the Lady Patriots guard, and it was tied for the first time just over 2 minutes into the quarter.
The game could've taken a huge turn towards PD at that point, but Riverside held their ground, got the ball in the paint to Jayla Jones-Pack '16, and found their confidence again. Jasmine White '17 was another interior threat that was able to finish strong against the smaller Positive Direction lineup and it was the Hawks who closed the half on a 14-4 run to see them go up 30-20 at three break.
Jones-Pack really put her stamp on the game in the 3rd and let everyone know that this was her game and she wasn't going to let it be taken away. The 6'4" forward scored 12 points in the 3rd as she had her way inside off of spin moves and back to the basket finishes. She closed the quarter stepping out and knocking down a midrange jumper to really put an exclamation point on things as the lead being a commanding one at 46-31 after three.
The 4th saw Green try and get Positive Direction back into it. She was able to connect from near anywhere on her side of the floor, but her chances became sparse, and while she did get some help from Jasmine Brunson (Mary Louis Academy '16) in the final quarter in getting to the basket, it was too little too late as the Riverside Hawks and coach Navro Allen pulled off the upset, 51-37.
Jones-Pack had 12 of her game high 19 points in the 3rd to really end things for all intensive purposes, and Goode had a strong game leading the offensive with 11 points.
In defeat Green finished with 18 points in just 3 quarters, showing how explosive offensively she can be, though it wasn't enough to advance her team to next weekend's semifinals.
Lady Bulls Skewer Patrick School (NJ), 53-30
It was a close game for a half, but the Lady Bulls, who most know by the Lady Choz, coming off a championship victory earlier in the day at the West 4th Street tournament, came to Dean Street and pulled away in the 2nd half for the easy win.
Maybe it was the fact that they had just won a big title just an hour before this one in Manhattan, but it was a sluggish start for the Bulls. Ashanae McLaughlin (Murry Bergtraum '15) had trouble getting started, and The Patrick School seemed comfortable slowing down the pace, and trail just 24-14 at the half.
Lady Bulls coach Earl Elliotte must have said magic words to his girls at the half because they came out and dominated the 3rd quarter, outscoring their opponents from NJ 18-1 led by Batouly Camara (Blair Academy, NJ '15) in the paint showing an array of moves to score around her defenders, while McLaughlin and Honesty Grayson (Life Center Academy, NJ '18) were perimeter threats who came alive when the Bulls needed them most.
They kept pouring it on with an impressive 4th quarter performance as well with 6'5" Theresa Ekhelar (Life Center Academy, NJ '15) using her size to control the glass and finish on misses inside. It was an absolute dominating 2nd half showing by the Lady Bulls, showing why they may just be the favorites after their resounding 23 point victory.
McLaughlin led the way for the Bulls with 14 points, while Ekhelar and Camara were both physically overpowering inside to finish with double rebounds and 11 points each in the win.
New Heights (Chez) Over Team Prince Elite, 37-31
With both teams missing key players, it was Coach Chez Williams young New Heights team that was paced by the 13 points of Mikaiya Moore (Copiague '16) that was able to pull away late after a back and forth tussle to grab the victory.
Mimi Reid (Murry Bergtraum '17) added 11 in the win for New Heights which should bring back Kiah Gillespie (Capital Prep, CT '15) for next weekend's semifinals after she missed this game on Sunday.
Amanda Cruz '15 led Team Prince Elite, which is South Shore H.S. with 8 points as they struggled from start to finish offensively without the services of Brianna Fraser '15 who had to miss this game.
It was a great set of quarterfinals games, and the semifinals look just as if not more intriguing with one matchup standing out as a game that could be the talk of the weekend.
Next Saturday's semifinal schedule for the girls :
New Heights (Chez) vs. Riverside Hawks- 2:30pm
Lady Bulls (Lady Choz) vs. D1 Bound- 3:30pm