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iS8/Nike Quarters: Only the Strong Survived

SOUTH RICHMOND, NY - Sunday was a day of highly competitive basketball as the quarterfinal rounds of the iS8/Nike Fall Tip-Off Classic took place at the Metro Boys & Girls Club. Eight teams walked int the gym but only four walked out with a ticket to the semifinals.

Castle Hoops knocked down by PD Nation, 95 - 72

Julian Champagnie & Kavontay Williams
Julian Champagnie & Kavontay Williams (M. Wingate)

PD Nation hit the ground running as Julian Champagnie ‘19 and Kavontay Williams (St. Benedict’s NJ ‘2) lit the rim up with transition bucket. With little to no resistance defensively, Castle Hoops quickly found them selves down by twenty points at the end of the warm-up quarter.

PD Nation continued their assault in the second quarter as Bernard Kouma (Our Savior Lutheran ’19) did a good job as clean-up around the rim. Castle managed to step up its offense in the second as Majesty Johnson (Brooklyn Collegiate ’20) and Joe Munden (Monsignor Scanlan ’20) scored from the perimeter but because they were unable or unwilling to stop the flow of baskets from PD Nation, the exchange of hoop kept the Nation ahead, 54 – 38 at the half.

Castle hope to make a major run in the third but the reverse happened. Champagnie began to pour with help from Williams, Kouma and Dwight Reed (Our Savior Lutheran ’19). A 10 – 0 PD Nation run extended their lead to 30 points at the end of three quarters, reducing Castle Hoops best hope was a respectable loss. Unfortunately for Castle even that didn’t happen as the PD Nation advanced with a 23-point blowout win.

Champagnie and Williams paced PD Nation with 21 points and 20 points respectively. Munden was high man for Castle Hoops with a game high 26 points.

Mt. Vernon Rec give D1 Stars run for the money but fall short, 90 – 81

Adama Sanogo,Fouseyni Drame &John Kuminga
Adama Sanogo,Fouseyni Drame &John Kuminga (M. Wingate)

It was an uphill battle even before the players from Mt. Vernon H.S played the D1 Star. First, they had to beat the Early Risers Sunday morning at 9AM in the last round of 16 game. Then they had to rest up and take on the D1 Stars, a squad chocked filled with Division I talent, at 11:30.

The D1 Stars came at Mt. Vernon with gun blazing as Jonathan Kuminga ‘21 and T.J. Morris (Nazareth ’21) came at them. MV countered as Troy Hupstead ‘20 pounded the paint with Charles Lovett ‘20 scoring long range. D1 Stars brute force tact only yielded them a 6-point advantage after one quarter.

The duo of Kuminga and Morris appeared to also be a winning formula in the second quarter as they slowly amassed an 11-point lead midway through the quarter, but Mount Vernon had its own duo. Lovett and Hupstead would compile a total of 21 second quarter points tying the game at 48 as the third quarter commenced.

Mt. Vernon kept its foot on the gas at the top of the quarter and a fast break layup by Lovett even propelled them a 4-point lead, their first of the game but coming from behind for three quarter eventually becomes taxing

Kuminga was ineffective in the third and Morris decided not to play anymore but the D1 Stars would have talent to spare. Buckets from Quaran McPherson (Christ the King ’20), Adama Sanogo (Our Savior New American '21) and Fouseyni Drame (Our Savior New American ’20) were enough to regain a five-point lead at the end of three quarters.

Mt. Vernon continued to battle in the fourth quarter, but it was becoming clearer that they were becoming spent. D1 Star’s big began to dominate and the Mt. Vernon Rec would fall by 9 points.

Kuminga scored 27 points for D1 Stars with Morris netting 20 points. Lovett dropped a game high 29 points for Mt. Vernon while Hupstead dropped 25 points.

Goldminz Ends Team Long Island’s run, 86 -  82

Justin Champagnie, Dashawn Davis & John Egbita
Justin Champagnie, Dashawn Davis & John Egbita (M. Wingate)

Long Island super team had barreled through pool play undefeated and was poised to move into the semifinal round with a win over Goldminz. That reality never cam to fruition as Team L.I. face a formidable foe.

With its back court in overdrive, Team Long Island burst out front as Rhyjon Blackwell (Baldwin ’19) and Malik Edmead (Deer Park ’20) got busy offensively. The duo’s efforts paid off and Goldminz found themselves in a 9-point hole. In responds Justin Champagnie ‘19 and Dashawn Davis began to match Team L.I.’s intensity.

In the second quarter, Team Long Island revved it up again as Bryce Harris (Brentwood ’20) joined the party. With 2:56 left in the half and reestablishing a 16-point lead, it appeared as if the Strong Island squad would continue its winning ways.

Goldminz went into the third quarter still down by 14 points and decided to push the pace with Malachi Smith running the point. Davis, as the off guard raised his game to the next level both offensively and defensively as he picked Blackwell’s pocket at half court on a couple of occasions.

With 2:56 left in the quarter, Goldminz had not only erased Team Long Island’s lead but briefly took 1-point lead. A put back by Divaahd Lucas restored Team L.I.’s lead but Goldminz was clearly nipping at Team Long Island’s tail.

The fourth quarter is when Team Long Island felt the absence of its star player Zed Key. The team appeared gassed with Edmead as the only provider of significant offense. Smelling blood in the water, Goldminz went in for the kill spearheaded by play from John Egbuta. Champagnie and Davis eventually put Goldminz out front by four and with Team Long Island ultimately losing by the same.

Davis finished with 29 points for Goldminz with Champagnie adding 17 points. Blackwell and Edmead scored 18 points each for Team Long Island.

2GZ ends Roads to Riches, 82 – 70

Trey Clarke, Hassan Diarra & Marcus Burnett
Trey Clarke, Hassan Diarra & Marcus Burnett (M. Wingate)

The last game of the day was a barnburner befitting a finale. It was a dog fight throughout with the loser being the team that blinked first. Jaylen Murray ‘20 got the party started with a jumper for R2R but 2GZ doubled down with a dunk from Marcus Burnett and a basket by Hassan Diarra ‘19.

The 2GZ duo had the upper hand early as they move ahead by 11 point with 3 minutes left in the opening quarter and remained ahead by six as the second quarter got underway. Basketball is a game of runs and a momentum can shift at the drop of a hat.

Murray owned the second quarter as led Road to Riches on a comeback of sorts. Netting treys from the perimeter, he and Harry Egham put them back in the driver’s seat, briefly. It was neck and neck down the stretch as the first half was drawing to a close but a late basket by Diarra sent the game into the second half with 2GZ maintaining a 43 – 40 lead.

While opposing point guards Joe Toussaint ‘19 and Jaquan Carlos ‘21 didn’t put up major points for Road to Riches and 2GZ respectively they both did solid jobs at setting the table for teammate while controlling tempo. With that being said Murray and Toussaint lifted R2R to a 7-point lead with 1-minute remaining in the third quarter. Diarra finished strong closing 2GZ’s deficit to a deuce.

In the final stanza, Road to Riches offense became almost nonexistent. The onslaught provided by Diarra, Burnett and Trey Clarke (Metro BDA ’19) would be enough to propel 2GZ into the semifinal round with a 12-point victory.

Diarra netted 29 points with Burnett contributing 20 points for 2GZ. Murray led Road to Riches with 21 points.

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