Diallo Wins Battle; Cardozo Wins War
ST. ALBANS, NY - Tuesday's contest during the More Than A Game Tournament at St. Albans Memorial Park was part street ball braggadocio and part high school tournament. It was wholly entertaining nonetheless.
It would be an interesting game between the PSAL's Cardozo sans Tareq Coburn versus NYC Finest, an AAU program run by Coach Rob Diaz. The contest would pit the Judges Rashond Salnave against NYC Finest's Hamidou Diallo early on.
One could argue that Diallo won the battle statistically, scoring a game high 24 points to Salnave's 20 points, but most importantly, Dozo would ultimately win the war, 61-60. However this victory would be due to the last minute exploits of late arrival Aaron Walker who dropped 16 points all in the second half.
The taller NYC Finest squad gained 28-20 advantage at the half as Diallo and teammate Joel Boyce '16 (15 points) attacked the rim and either scored and/or got to the free-throw line. Salnave tried to counter but was only able to get to the foul line except for a nice step back jumper to end the half.
Salnave again showed glimpses of his offensive prowess at the top of the second half with a couple of nice step-back jumpers but the entrance of Walker in the second half turned the tide eventually pulling Dozo ahead 36-35.
Midway through half, the game was knotted at 39 but young guard Tyson Walker and Salnave put Dozo up by 4 points. Salnave came up with big plays and ahead 56-48 at the two minute mark, Cardozo appeared to be in control of their own destiny.
That is until Diallo and Boyce caught fire and quickly closed the gap to three points which sparked jib jabbering by the Judges players. The trash talk reached the boiling point when a foul plus a tech was assessed to Salnave who was then forced to sit for the remainder of the game. That mental lapse put Jaheam Cornwall '16 (7 points) on the line to cap off an 8-0 run and tie the game at 56 plus possession of the ball with one minute left to play.
Diallo immediately drives to the hole for the lead, misses the attempt, draws a foul but goes 0-2 from the charity stripe. It would now be NYC Finest's turn for a mental transgression as big man David Cole (4 points) picked up a tech and put A. Walker on line. The rising senior would net both free throws, putting Dozo back out in front but they would subsequently turn the ball over, allowing NYC Finest to tie the game with 25 seconds left in regulation.
The finish line was game of inches down the stretch but A. Walker would eek out the win as he took control, driving the ball into the teeth of the NYC Finest's defense where he drew fouls and was almost pure from the foul line. Conversely, NYC Finest missed critical free-throws in the clutch and fell short by by a point when time expired.