The long-awaited battle between NYCHoops.net #1 ranked Jayvaughn Pinkston and #2 ranked Tobias Harris finally took place at the Big Apple Basketball Invitational marquee event on Monday.
Bishop Loughlin (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Half Hollow Hills West (Long Island, N.Y.) clashed at Baruch College, where, ultimately, Hills West won the slugfest 75-72 in overtime. But, one can be pretty sure that supporters of both Pinkston and Harris did not leave completely satisfied after the final buzzer sounded, as the game saw the defeating of the Lions on the one hand and the premature fouling out of Harris on the other.
Throwing figurative punches almost came to literal blows, as the stage was set, the crowd was heated and the players on both squads were fired up.
Hills West's forward Tyler Harris opened the game with a 3-pointer at the 7:32 mark of the first quarter, which saw multiple lead changes. Each time there was an apparent Tobias-Jayvaughn match-up, the crowd starting yelling, "Yeaaah " But, during that time, the game was more than just them. Loughlin's Brandon Frazier helped steady the ship with about eight points in the period, while Hills West's point guard Tavon Sledge, and Tyler Harris showed up when it seemed Loughlin was hitting a groove.
Hills West led 16-15 by the close of the period.
The fiery cauldron of the Tobias Harris-Jayvaughn Pinkston battle began to boil in the second quarter, as Pinkston worked his way into the middle and drew fouls on Hills West. After a fastbreak basket by Tobias, Tobias fouled Pinkston on the next possession at the 5:59 mark. Pinkston nailed one-of-two from the charity stripe to knot the contest at 20.
Pinkston powered his squad continuing to make toughness plays and earning some at the line. With the help of his pound it in work, the Lions regained and extended the lead, so that by the four-minute mark, on a 3-pointer by Loughlin's wingman Frazier, the Lions led 29-22. Hills West surged ahead in the next two minutes with a mini 9-2 run. And, at the 2:05 mark of the second phase, the squads were tied again, this time at 31.
Loughlin and Hills West tied twice more down the stretch of the period, closing out the quarter 34-34.
At this point, Sledge, who finished with 21 points, had 12 points and Tyler Harris already had 11 points, en route to his 24-point finish. For Loughlin, Pinkston, who had a game-high 34 points and 14 rebounds, led all scorers with 14 points at the half. And, Frazier already had 11 of his 16-point finish.
At the 5:04 mark of the third quarter, Loughlin and Hills West knotted at 40, but that would be the last time before Tobias Harris (19 points) came alive. Tobias, after scoring only four points in 15 minutes of first-half play, energized his team with a nice skill-set of inside and mid-range game. Subsequently, on a 3-pointer by younger brother Tyler, Hills West outscored Loughlin 14-7 and closed the period with a 54-47 advantage.
Throughout what some thought was the fourth and final quarter, Sledge and Tobias continued to impress their fans with lightening quick slashes to the basket, tough buckets on the inside and acquiring and maintaining a double-digit deficit. Hills West led by as much as 11 points, 62-51, after Tobias nailed a 3-pointer over Pinkston at the 5:47 mark of the fourth.
Pinkston put in work, muscling to the inside and getting Hills West into foul trouble, including Tobias. Slowly, the Lions worked down the deficit to two points, 64-62, on Pinkston's completion of a conventional three-point play at about the 2:31 mark.
Sledge pushed the lead to four points, 66-62 on a quick basket. However, at the 1:41 mark of the fourth phase, Pinkston earned an and-1 opportunity as he twirled 360-degrees midair and drew the foul on Tobias Harris. While Harris picked up his fourth personal foul, Pinkston completed his second consecutive big conventional three-point play to bring Loughlin within one, 66-65.
Less than 40 seconds left, Hills West went on to extend its advantage by two points, 67-65. In a desperate attempt to steal the lead, Loughlin fumbled the ball with 24.9 seconds remaining. And, while guarding Hills West on its next possession, Loughlin deflected the ball out of bounds with 18.4 seconds on the clock.
Hills West's Aaron McCree was fouled and nailed one-of-two on a one-and-one opportunity at the line. Then Pinkston, facing a running clock, signaled for the ball and nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.
With 2:45 remaining in the four-minute overtime period, Tobias picked up his fifth personal on a charge traveling baseline. Pinkston took advantage of the extra possession and gave Loughlin a 71-70 lead. But, a few missed shots and turnovers gave room for a 72-72 tie with 38.5 seconds on the clock.
Sledge, again, completed a fastbreak lay-in to the hole to lift Hills West 74-72. Unable to get the ball in the post to Pinkston, who was being guarded in a mismatch with Tyler Harris, Loughlin's forward Razi Jenkins (eight points, 10 rebounds) missed a mid-range jumper from inside the circle. Hills West was then able to get the board and extend the game to 75-72 on a free throw by Sledge. Loughlin tried to get a last minute 3-pointer up but missed the mark.
"The momentum was in our hands, we just lost it at the end, little careless with the ball, missed free throws," said Pinkston. "I'm very proud [of our team's performance]. Our young kids stepped up, our seniors stepped up, we just fell short. We're going to work on that when we get back in the gym."
Harris and Pinkston both led their teams in intensity (Pinkston also led in scoring) Monday night. However, each squad needed a determining factor, a player that couldn't be checked by another on the opposing team. Tobias had Pinkston, and, Tyler had Frazier. But, Sledge, named game M.V.P., was incapable of being matched or restrained offensively. So, while everyone was caught up in the NYC supremacy battle, it was one of the smallest guns on the roster that changed the game and won the war with his lightening quick offense.
While commending Sledge for his huge role in the win over Loughlin, Tobias Harris seemed to continue the sentiment saying he was not really focused on the battle for who was the top in the city, but on the collective feat it was for the team.
"My take was that it was a win," said Harris.
Overall, the raw, long-awaited battle beef between the #1 and #2 players of New York City was chewed, but not squashed. The game did not settle the debate on whether Harris or Pinkston is the king of New York. Instead, it, ironically, diluted one's perception to what all kids and fans should be there to watch - a team sport.
"I told Tobias this is not a one-on-one game, we're a team, all-year round we've been playing as a team," said Sledge. "I think it was an even match-up, pretty good match-up, [Harris and Pinkston] both did some big things in clutch times. I think our team just had more depth with our sixth man."
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