SOUTH JAMAICA, NY - Sunday quarterfinal action was sizzling at the iS8/Nike Tip-Off Fall Classic. Eight teams were left the top of the 57 team food chain but the dog-eat-dog world of competitive high school basketball only four remained standing.
NYCHoops.net was there and caught all the action.
Juice gets pureed by Ben Gordon All-stars, 81-63
In the battle of the All-Stars, Westchester would grind up Brooklyn into fine mulch in the opening game. The Ben Gordon All-stars (a/k/a defending Federation State Champion Mt. Vernon Knights) were a well oiled and relentless machine applying pressure on the Juice All-stars from the opening tip off until the final buzzer.
Paced by Isaiah Cousins (16 points) in the first quarter and Randy Stephens (14 points) in second, Ben Gordon was ahead 35-27 with 3:27 left in the half. Tafari Whittingham (19 points) and Shaquille Davis (12 points)helped to cut the lead down to a point with 35 seconds remaining but a strong finish by ultra-quick point guard Josh Doughty (16 points) would give the Mt. Vernon, NY crew a 41-35 lead to start the second half.
Big Will Robinson (9 points) would do work both defensively and offensively in the paint and Ben Gordon pressurized defense would limit Juice's opportunities. Davis and Whittingham would try to keep the Brooklyn All-stars in the hunt but the absence of their shooting guard, Isaiah Whitehead, who was away at the USA Team mini-camp would hinder their progress. With the precision that Ben Gordon was playing, the addition of Whitehead probably wouldn't have made a difference.
Buckets by Cousins and a dunk by Jarrell Marshall (12 points) on Whittingham's head would help punt Ben Gordon lead to 20 points to start the fourth but would signal the beginning of the end for the Juice All-Stars.
Ben Gordon lead would grow to 23 points midway through the fourth and they would sub out their starters and cruise into the semifinals.
OSNA blocks Sports University from the semis, 82-72
A trey at the start of the game by point guard Lebrent Walker (11 points) would set the tone of Our Savior New American's offense while Christopher Obekpa's (9 points) 10 blocks and 18 rebounds set the tone of their defense. A 9-0 run capped off by a basket from eighth grader Devonte Green (16 points) would leave Sport U. in a hole that they would never climb out of.
Literally terrified of getting their shots punched in the paint by Obekpa, Sport U. found themselves down 20-9 at the end of the first quarter only as a result of fortunate perimeter shots by Quadri Moore (5 points) and Josh Brown (22 points).
Sport U. did manage to close the gap to 5 points with 2:22 left in the second quarter, scoring points in transition. However, baskets by high flying Felix Balamou (19 points) and treys from sharpshooter Nick Lewis (17 points) would re-extend OSNA's lead back to 11 points with 36 seconds left in the half.
Down 41-30 to start the third, Sport U. would bottom out midway through the third quarter as Obekpa continued to single-handedly alter their game. Back-to-back baskets by Green would give Our Savior a 20 point advantage.
Hallice Cooke (13 points) and Kentrall Brooks (12 points) would offer some offense but for the most part, Sport U. would finish out the game trying to avoid being blown out.
NY Panthers get past Slow Bucks, 82-71
On paper, the Panthers should've had no problem with Slow Bucks/2 the Rack but only fantasy basketball is played on paper. Although the Panthers had more talent, Slow Bucks was winning the battle of intestinal fortitude.
The Panthers took the lead early but big men Jordan Washington (17 points) and 6'7" Uzonna Akasi (7 points) would tie the game in the first quarter. With 3:30 left in the quarter, a steal and a bucket by 5'7" Jamiek Riviere (27 points) gave Slow Bucks their first lead.
Malik Nichols (9 points) and Melvin Johnson (20 points) tied the game and big man Charles Mitchell (6 points) would give the Panthers an 18-15 advantage to start the second quarter.
Washington's brute strength would be a problem for the Panthers inside and while the Panthers would tie the game on a few occasions, they were clearly playing catch-up.
The Panthers 7'0" center Laimonas Chatkevicius (5 points) managed to get off in the post and give them a 3 point lead with 1:41 left in the half, but the true grit of Slow Bucks in the paint began to fester.
A technical foul by Panther's head coach Paul Ruddock would put the backboard free-throw shooting Riviere on the line which resulted in a 39-37 halftime lead for Slow Bucks.
While Slow Buck had true grit, the consequence was foul trouble for Washington who was forced to sit out a majority of the quarter. Amir Garrett (22 points) would take advantage from above the rim and a strong finish by Tyler Ennis (12 points) and Johnson allowed the Panthers to regain the lead 59-52 to start the fourth quarter.
With Washington saddled with four fouls, the Panthers pushed their lead to 11 points until he re-entered the game. The junior from Pathways HS proceeded to bully the Panthers lead down to 6 points but fouled out shortly thereafter.
Riviere tried his best to hold the fort and possible pull off the improbable win but without Washington, it was not to be.
Playaz Club Srs. side step New Heights, 59-57
The last game of the day, turned out to be the most entertaining and worth the wait. The Playaz Srs. are another well oiled team that has played together for a while, similar to Mt. Vernon. New Heights is a team filled with horses.
Early on, the Playaz were stymied by the length of New Heights which seemed to particularly annoy UCLA bound Kyle Anderson (15 points). New Heights remained in attack mode as Jeff Neverson (7 points) and a 3-ball by Joel Angus(11 points) gave them an 8 point lead with 2:55 left in the opening quarter. Myles Davis (29 points) began to warm up as the quarter closed out and cut New Heights lead to 17-13 to start the second quarter.
Rashad Andrews (17 points) and Angus showed their range throughout the second quarter and a drive to the hole by Tyliek Kimbrough (10 points) increased New Heights point spread to 8 points with 2:16 left. Davis kept the Playaz Club in the game with his aggressiveness to the rim but Neverson and Kimbrough gave New Heights a 35-29 lead at the half.
Davis was consistent but in the third quarter, Anderson found his voice and tied the game at 40. The game was tight but with the momentum in limbo, a technical foul on Angus would allow the Playaz to take a 48-44 lead to start the fourth.
New Heights battled back and Hofstra commit, Jimmy Hall (10 points) tied the game again at 50 and with 4:23 Angus gave New Heights yet another lead.
New Heights was holding onto a 1 point lead until Anderson scored an and-1 with 1:13 to put the Playaz up 57-55. Kimbrough would draw a foul and knockdown both free-throws to tie the game with 55 seconds left in regulation. As time expired 6'7" forward Jerome Frink (6 points) would draw a foul and hit two key free-throws to win the game.
Game 1- Our Savior New American vs. NY Panthers on Saturday (10/22) @ 11:00am
Game 2 - Playaz Club Srs vs. Mt. Vernon on Saturday (10/22) @ 12:30pm
Championship: Sunday (10/23) @ 11:00am