SOUTH JAMAICA, NY - Thursday's pool play games at the "brightly lit" Intermediate School #8 gym were based on a simple premise. You win, you're in the playoffs. You lose, you're watching the playoffs.
NIA Prep Oust Kendall Madison Playaz, 66-57
In a low scoring first quarter, NIA Prep moved ahead 7-2 with 3 minutes left but with 1:50, the Playaz knotted the game at 7 and took the lead as Joshua Wallace scored inside. Nasir Abrams tied the game and regained the lead for NIA with 30 seconds. Kaywon Savage got fouled taking a trey at the buzzer extending NIA Preps' lead to 14-10 at the end of warm up quarter.
Recent Wagner commit Aaren Edmead got things started offensively for the Kendall Madison Playaz (Deer Park HS) but NIA countered with an 8-0 run and led 22-13 early in the second. Kendall Madison cut the lead to 5 but a strong move by Savage plus the foul kicked NIA Preps' lead back to 8 with seconds remaining in the half.
NIA Prep led by 10 at the half and increased their lead to 42-26 off turnovers and porous defense by Kendall Madison. The Playaz tried to chip away as Nykel Reese and Kavione Green got their squad to within 8.
A shootout ensued as both teams traded buckets. With 33 seconds left, the score was 51-41. Green drew a foul for Kendall but missed both free throws and NIA maintained a 10 point advantage to start the fourth quarter.
Kendall Madison attacked the hole and shot from the perimeter. A layup by Edmead and NIAs lead was down to 55-48.
Another defensive lapse by Kendall and NIA once again stretched their lead back up to 9 points. NIA Prep began defending using a zone and Kendall Madison could not hit their unprovoked jumpers. With 2:35 Kendall was now down 60-50 and Ramon Wright punctuated NIA Preps impending win with a massive dunk extending their lead to 12.
Still unable to knock down jumpers over or around NIAs zone, Kendall Madison would eventually go fishing.
NIA Prep led by Savage with 24 points plus teammates Jonathan Frazier and Abrams with 16 points and 13 points respectively would advance to play the All Long Island Seniors on Saturday at 11:30am. Kendal Madison was paced by Reese with 25 and Green with 12 points
The City Beats All L.I. Seniors, 77-71
With a few of their players absent, the playoff bound All Long Island Seniors had nothing to lose but would need more Long Island seniors than they had to beat The City (South Shore HS) who was playing for their playoff lives.
The City jumped out in front 7-2 but a jumper by Brandon Imperato (OSNA) and a dunk by Jonathan Grimsley (Valley Stream Central) made it a close game. With 2:45, The City led All L.I. 13-10. A spin around putback by Grimsley and a basket on transition by Imperato gave All L.I. a brief 14-13 lead but with 22 secs The City turned the tide. A buzzer beater trey by Devyn Wilson pushed The City's lead to 18-14 to start the second.
All L.I. pushed the tempo and quickly tied the game at 18 as Tristan Brown (Elmont HS) and Tim Quashie (L.I. Lutheran) scored of fast breaks. With a chance to take the lead, Brown hit 1 of 2 with 6:20 but once again that lead was brief.
The lead changed hands as Grimsley broke away for his second smash dunk. Tyron Johnson countered with treys and a basket by Doudmy Saint Hilaire and big man Latief Laney put the City up 31-23 with 1:15 left in the half.
The City was up by 34-23 with 34 seconds off an 11-0 run and began the third ahead 36-27 as Laney worked out Imperato in the paint.
All L.I. sliced The City's lead to 5 as Quashie attacked the rim. With 3 minutes left in the quarter the game was tied at 41. A floater by Grimsley put the Long Island squad back on top until Wilson countered.
Knotted at 47 with 1:43, both teams were lax on defense and it was a free for all. A vicious slam dunk by Ryan Preston put The City up 51-48 with 51 seconds but All L.I. tied the game a 51 to start the final quarter.
All L.I. struck first in the fourth quarter as Darien Jenkins, Grimsley and Brown scored in transition to go up by 6 with 7 minutes left to play. The City began to respond but All L.I. still remained up by 5 points with 4:54 in regulation. Both teams traded trifectas but a charge led by Wilson pulled The City to within 2 points of the lead.
3:25 was left on the clock and All L.I. held off The City and still led 65-62. Grimsley extended that lead off a keeper but St. Hilaire and Donnell Clayton made it a 1 point contest with 1:57. A forced shot by Quashie resulted in a turnover and St. Hilaire and Wilson jumped through and gave The City a 70-67 lead with 1 minute left.
Grimsley drew a foul and hit a freethrow with 51 seconds and All L.I. was only down by 1 but they committed a foul, putting them over the limit with 47 seconds. The City increased their lead to three from the charity stripe. A missed trey by Imperato with 25 seconds forced All L.I. to foul and The City got to the line once again. St. Hilaire was solid was pure from the freethrow line and The City earned a berth in the iS8 playoffs.
Wilson led The City, scoring 23 points with St. Hilaire adding 16 points Grimsley was high man for All Long Island Seniors with 23 points.
The City advances to play the winner of Friday's game between 2GZ Entertainment and the RENs (Red) on Saturday at 12:45pm. All Long Island Seniors will be playing NIA Prep.