ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - Well after having a rough time during pool play and losing every game at the Live in AC tournament, Juice All-Stars did a complete U-turn and ended everything on a positive note.
Juice went 3-0 in the playoff games on Friday and ended up winning the Silver bracket against NJ Pirates, 81-77.
Juice was impressive in all three games, with each one providing a different type of hurdle. The first game was at 10:15 in the morning against the Ottawa Guardsmen and it was a close game throughout. In the end, Isaiah Whitehead made the last two free throws of the game and helped keep Ottawa on the low end of the score. He scored 18 to lead Juice, while Nyheem Atkins added 12 points.
The second game was just the best display of basketball during the whole tournament. They dominated D-One Sports and were able to apply the mercy rule with an 80-55 win. The key to victory was they played together and shared the ball. It seemed as if everybody was knocking down open jumpers. Jaquan Lynch went crazy in the first half and finished with a team high 25 points. Leroy Fludd was able to score in a variety of ways, both inside and out and had 19. Whitehead also had a nice game with 16 points.
The last game of the day, which was also the Silver bracket championship game against the NJ Pirates, was a different scenario. The game was a slow start for Juice, going into the half down 43-37 and playing lethargically. Something snapped in the second half and almost in a blink of an eye Juice was up six.
Despite going up by a comfortable margin, Juice allowed the Pirates to come all the way back and eventually tie the game. From that point on it was back and forth and it took some nice defensive plays by Lynch to seal the win. Lynch (11 points) was extremely clutch in the last three minutes of the game, harassing the ball handler and creating turnovers. Also, he was able to create a couple of those into lay-ups. The result was an victory. Fludd finished with a game high 23 points, while Atkins and Whitehead added 15 and 14 points respectively.
Brooklyn Rens fall in semi-final, 55-48
While Juice made it all the way, the Brooklyn Rens were in the same Silver bracket competition. Unfortunately for them, they lost before they could get to the finish. After crushing Team Adidas 62-34 in the morning game, the Rens stumbled against the NJ Pirates, the same team that lost in the finals. Nazai Stokes scored a game high 13 points and teammate Fabian McDonald had 10.
The second game was a tough one to lose because the Rens fought back from a deficit and actually took the lead late in the game. That's when it all fell apart because the Rens basically self-destructed and turned the ball over three times in a row. The Pirates were able to capitalize on the mishaps and beat the Rens 55-48. In the loss, Ervin Mitchell scored 14 points, while Stokes added 12.
The Brooklyn Rens 16&U team also played in the silver bracket semifinal for their group. The game was against Sports U. and it was another close one. With the score 48-45 and the Rens on the short side, Tyrone Johnson (7 points) made a deep three from the right elbow while the time ran out to tie it and send the game to overtime. However, Sports U. was able to score the first three points of the overtime period and give the Rens the loss. In that game, Denzel Wilson led the Rens with 14 points.
So after a disastrous start, Juice made up for it the best way possible, by defeating the last three opponents and winning the Silver bracket. Even though it's not the optimal way to win a tournament, at least a team can say they didn't lose their last game.
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