SOUTH JAMAICA, N.Y. -- In the last weekend of league play as part of the iS8/Nike Spring H.S Classic, there were five games that took place on the hardwood of the gymnasium at Intermediate School 8 (Queens, N.Y.).
While there are some teams that know that they will advance to the one-and-done playoffs, there are still some squads whose post-season fate will be determined this weekend. As a result, there were some impressive matchups and individual performances that characterized the toughness that is iS8.
B.C. EAGLES ESCAPE MONTIBELLO, 59-57
The scrappy and gritty game -- with hustling so hard bodies and basketballs oftentimes flew in different directions -- featured very strong and physical student-athletes. The contest came down to the wire and just one play that determined the winner.
Behind the efforts of Eric McCollum (Newburgh Free Academy (N.Y.) '15), B.C. Eagles shot off to an 11-4 lead by the 4:40 mark of the first quarter. Montibello brought the game within two points, 14-12, after a clutch 3-pointer. A jumper by Mike Coffey (Burke Catholic (N.Y.) '14); however, extended his squad's advantage to four points, 20-16.
A sweet pass from Montibello's Rahmel Thompson ('16) to Isaac Grant (Archbishop Molloy H.S. (N.Y.) '16) narrowed the deficit to just a deuce, 22-20, early in the second quarter.
Sturdy defense by both squads did not allow for much of a point swing, as halftime came to a close with B.C. Eagles leading 26-22.
In the third quarter, B.C. Eagles held as much as a six-point lead, 32-26, before Montibello went on a mini run with the help of Aaron Walker (Archbishop Molloy H.S. (N.Y.) '16) to tie the matchup at 32. A jumper by Coffey made it a one-possession game, 34-32, but a 3-pointer from Maynard Grant (Coastal Academy (N.J.) post-grad) at the 4:50 mark of the period gave Montibello its first advantage of the matchup, 35-34.
Montibello and B.C. Eagles switched between lead changes and ties before Montibello was able to earn as much as a three-point lead, 46-43, in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. Ultimately, Montibello and B.C. Eagles knotted one last time -- this time at 55.
Montibello took a one-point advantage, 57-56, with less than one-minute left in the game. Just when it seemed Montibello was going to notch the victory, Coffey came up with a big-time, off-balance 3-pointer to steal the win.
B.C. Eagles' Coffey and McCollum each netted 16 points. Montibello's Walker netted 13 points, while Maynard Grant and Tracey Cleckley (Christ the King H.S. (N.Y.) '16) finished with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Teammate Isaac Grant had seven points.
NYC FINEST BLOWS OUT NYC JAZZ, 82-52
Some games are hardwood clashes; others are practice sessions. For NYC Finest, it appeared more like the latter.
NYC Finest did not give NYC Jazz a chance to breathe, defensively suffocating the offense of its opponents and going on a dramatic run from the beginning of the matchup. In fact, by the close of the primary phase, NYC Finest held a 16-point advantage, 25-9.
The trio of O'Shayne Reid (John Bowne (N.Y.) '14), Hamidou Diallo (John Bowne (N.Y.) '16) and Luis Hernandez (John Bowne (N.Y.) '14) combined on 30 of NYC Finest's first-half points. The squad led by a whopping 32 points, 48-16, by the break.
NYC Finest made it difficult for NYC Jazz to go on runs, as it frequently forced turnovers and quickly converted those errors into buckets in transition. This was the most damaging factor that caused the Jazz to be stifled throughout the game.
Late in the third quarter, NYC Finest continued to build on its lead, earning as much as a 36-point advantage, 68-32. By the fourth and final phase, NYC Jazz was only able to cut its deficit to 26 points, 68-42. NYC Jazz' Brian Cueto and Quincy Austin attempted to take the squad's burden on their shoulders, firing shots at will and attacking the glass.
However, the hole NYC Finest dug for the Jazz was way too deep and steep from which to climb out.
NYC Finest's Reid netted a team-high 17 points (11 in first half), while Diallo (10 points in first stanza) and Hernandez (nine points) posted 15 points apiece. NYC Jazz' Cueto had a game-high 19 points and Austin finished with17 points in the loss.
BROOKLYN BALLERS EDGE TEAM UNDERRATED, 81-77
Brooklyn Ballers came out with much firepower, securing an abundance of 3-pointers and long, two-point jumpers. The team's outside shooting, activated by Loyola (Md.) commit Andre Walker (Christ the King H.S. (N.Y.) '14) and Mike "Pop" Watson (Paul Robeson (N.Y.) '14), disturbed Team Underrated's defense as focus had to shift to sealing up the perimeter shooters.
While the defense was extended out to prevent 3-point attempts, it opened the scorers up for inside penetration, where Brooklyn Ballers finished strongly and confidently at the rack. Team Underrated's Isaiah Giles (Upper Room (N.Y.) '15) was a sturdy presence in the middle, battling with Brooklyn Ballers for rebounds, loose balls and putbacks.
Although Team Underrated was able to hang tough through the flurry of long-range shooting, through its undeniably effective strategy, the Brooklyn Ballers earned as much as an eight-point advantage, 40-32, with about a minute remaining in the second quarter.
Team Underrated's Payton Johnson (Academy of the New Church (Pa.) '14) helped slice the deficit down to five points, 40-35, by halftime.
By the third quarter, Team Underrated saw offensive contributions from more players on its limited roster. This led to Team Underrated earning its first advantage of the game, 41-40. Team Underrated and Brooklyn Ballers were ultimately knotted at 57 with less than 50 seconds left in the period.
Although no other points would be tacked on for the remainder of the quarter, the Brooklyn Ballers went right to work in the fourth phase. The Brooklyn Ballers jumped ahead, 60-57, but Team Underrated's Tavon Ginyard (St. John the Baptist (N.Y.) '15) nailed a long 3-pointer to knot the contest at 60.
Each time Brooklyn Ballers would score, Team Underrated was there to answer. Team Underrated's Columbia-bound C.J. Davis (Archbishop Molloy H.S. (N.Y.) '14) created the last tie off the matchup when he tied the contest at 62 on an acrobatic lay-up with about six minutes left in the game.
Walker and company slowly rebuilt a two-possession advantage, 72-67. However with about 1:19 to go, with the help of Giles, Team Underrated was within a point, 74-73. Brooklyn Ballers pushed its lead up a notch to 77-73. Big man Giles drew the foul and sank 2-of-2 from the free throw line.
With Team Underrated only down by two points, 77-75, Giles attempted a shot near the basket but was rejected by Brooklyn Ballers' Gabriel Kilpatrick (Archbishop Molloy H.S. (N.Y.) '14).
Consequently, with 12 seconds left in the matchup, Team Underrated was forced to foul to stop the clock as the Brooklyn Ballers' sealed the victory with two free throws.
Brooklyn Ballers' Walker scored a game-high 25 points, while teammate Watson netted 18. Teammates Kilpatrick and New Haven-bound Jayson Cethoute (Archbishop Molloy H.S. (N.Y.) '14) finished with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Team Underrated's Davis had a team-high 19 points (14 in the second half), while Ginyard recorded 16 points (11 in the second half). Giles and Johnson added 15 and 12 points, respectively.
IN OTHER NEWS...
B.C. Eagles won their second matchup of the day, taking down the N.J. Trailblazers, 70-68. B.C. Eagles were led in scoring by the game-high 29 points of Mike Coffey. Teammate Eric McCollum added 15 points.
2GZ Entertainment-Will trounced N.J. Trailblazers, 75-48. The 2GZ squad was led in scoring by (Believe Prep (N.C.) '14), who recorded 23 points. Teammates Darnell Holmes ('14) and Omar Williams (Believe Prep (N.C.) '14) had 13 and 12 points, respectively. Also for 2GZ, Iowa-commit Dominique Uhl (Point Pleasant Beach (N.J.) '14) added 11 points in the win.