BROOKLYN, NY - The playoffs began on Saturday with the FunSport HS Classic at Thomas Jefferson Campus. Because Dream Nation forfeited to Team 12 in the first quarterfinal game, NYCHoops.net was only on hand for the exciting final three games.
NJ Pirates fall to Gotham Hoops, 76-71
Although chock filled with talent, Gotham Hoops coached by Ray Anczelowic, limped into the playoffs as an eight seed after beating Team 8-Ball in an out-bracket game. They would benefit from the addition of St. Raymond big man Luis Santos to help take out the #1 seeded Pirates to advance to the semis
The Pirates would take an 11-4 lead with 11:47 remaining in the opening half due to strong offensive rebounding and transition points. Travis Atson began to close the gap and soon, Gotham Hoops zone help spark a 6-0 run that cut the NJ Pirates lead to a point. At the 10:54 mark, Atson and Santos put Gotham Hoops ahead.
The Pirates were resilient and pushed their lead back to seven as Jerome Hilton (Snyder HS/2014)and Mississippi Valley bound Rakwan Kelly (Robinson School/2014) scored but Craig McKenzie (Brooklyn Collegiate/2015)pulled Gotham Hoops within two and Chris Atkinson tied the game at 30 and again at 32. With under a minute, Gotham Hoops had 3 point lead and took a 39-34 advantage into the second half.
At the top of the half the NJ Pirates knotted the game at 39 and with 14:39, Elijah Brown (Prestige Prep/2014) finished off a 7-0 run giving the Pirates a 41-39 lead. Gotham Hoops countered and led by nine capped off by an Atkinson trey.
With 3:30 left in regulation, Gotham Hoops was up 68-58. The Pirates got it down to 4 with 2:28 as Brown scored and then scored off a steal and Gotham Hoops would hold on to advance to the Sunday's semifinal at 11:00am versus Team 12.
Santos led Gotham Hoops with 20 points & 12 rebounds with Atson adding 17 points & 13 rebounds. Dwayne Merrill (Pioneer School/2014) was scored a game high 21 points & 8 rebounds for the NJ Pirates
Jersey City Holds Off Team Underrated, 57-56 in Overtime
Jersey City, a team of 10th graders, thought it was smooth sailing against Team Underrated. Although they would eek out a one point victory, the youngsters would learn from their veteran opponents, how to never give up.
Evenly matched early Jersey City pushed ahead 20-11 as PG Stephen Ferraw (Seton Hall Prep) and Shaquan Gibbs (St. Anthony's) scored in transition. Extremely poised the underclass New Jersey team displayed maturity
Team Underrated fell down by 12 points before Khari Harvey (John Bowne/2015) scored a jumper to stop the bleeding. Jersey City played solid defense, limiting Team Underrated to one shot attempt. Jack Sheehan (Manasquan) finished off the half with a runner giving Jersey City a 27-15 lead at the midway point.
Jersey City increased their lead to 20 early in the second half as Gibbs penetrated Team Underrated's core and Ryan Grayner (Whippany Park HS) scored from the perimeter.
TU's deficit went from bad to worse. Down 40-15 with 10:44 left to play, Daryl Daniels (John Glenn/2014) finally scored for the fledgling Long Island based squad. Team Underrated began to make an imprint with a 12-0 run as Head Coach Andre Edward's up the ante' on the defensive end. Jersey City's lead which was once as large as 24 points was suddenly down to 10 with 6:56.
Out of a JC timeout Daniels and Harvey cut the lead down to 40-36 as the Jersey City continued to free-fall. Columbia bound C.J. Davis eventually put Team Underrated on top 42-40 with 4:15 left to play.
Jersey City would regain the lead as Sean Hoggs (Notre Dame Prep) finally drained a three ball and Zack Keller (Seton Hall Prep) would extend that lead to 45-42 but Davis kept TU in the hunt.
The lead changed hands down the stretch as both teams could smell the finish line. With 59.4 seconds Team Underrated held onto a 1 point lead but Davis would miss two free-throws. Jersey City would capture possession with 30.1 secs and call a time out to strategize.
On the inbound, Keller would draw a foul go 1 of 2 to tie game at 50. After Davis missed a drive to the hoop and a jumper taking the game into OT tied at 50.
Jersey City would strike first but Kevin Little (Coastal Academy/2014) would respond for TU. Defensive pressure by the Long Islanders kept the game knotted at 54 with 12.8 seconds and when Jersey City missed free-throws, Davis put TU up with 4.6 seconds remaining. It appeared as if Team Underrated may have pulled off the comeback of the summer but as time expired, Ferraw banked a three-pointer from the top of the key to give Jersey City the one point win.
Ferraw paced Jersey City with 12 points & 4 assists with Keller contributing 8 points & 7 rebounds. Mercy commit Payton Johnson (Academy New Church/2014) was high man for Team Underrated with 14 points & 5 rebounds.
Team Albany falls to Bedford Y, 79-62
In the final game of the day, Bedford Y blasted ahead 18-8 with good ball movement and head starts due to rebounding superiority. With Team Albany settling for jumpshots, Bedford took a 37-21 lead into the second half.
Midway through the final half, Bedford increased their lead to 20 but Team Albany began to show signs of life. Isaiah Gurley (Westinghouse/2014) scored as did Malique Riely (Westinghouse/2016) and Tremaine Elder (Westinghouse/2014) and with 5:13 Bedford was only up 61-52.
Devyn Wilson (South Shore/2014) and Sharif Fordham (Grand Street Campus/2014) finally created some separation with offense and defense. Bedford led 71-58 with 2:57 and would hold on for a relatively easy 17 point win to advance to the semifinals where they will face Jersey City on Sunday at 12:15pm
Wilson led Bedford Y scoring 21 points, 5 assists & 4 rebounds. Elder was high man for Team Albany with a game high 22 points, 5 rebounds & 1 assist.
The Championship will take place at 2:00pm.