LONG ISLAND CITY, NY - The best game of the day was the last one of the day at the 2012 iS8/Nike Spring H.S. Classic.
The Panthers were matched up against The Rens Juniors and what started out slow turned out to be a dandy. The Panthers had the top power forward in the nation on the team, while The Rens had some of the best players in the city who were able to win the game at the buzzer.
Terrence Samuel put on a show in the second half, scoring all 14 of his points and finding any teammate who was open. The last teammate he found open is the same teammate he's played with his whole high school career, Shamiek Sheppard. The game was tied at 80 and 11 seconds were left in the game. After a timeout, Samuel dribbled the ball at the top of the key, penetrated deep down the right side of the lane, and bounced a slick pass to Sheppard on the baseline for an easy lay-up and the 82-80 win as the buzzer sounded.
The game was tense from the very beginning. The Rens controlled the first half while playing on the court, and at the same time they got into the minds of the Panthers. Anthony Bennett, the top power forward in the country and number 7 overall according to Rivals, received a technical foul because he was frustrated with the extremely aggressive defense from The Rens. That was just in the first quarter which the Rens held an 18-14 lead.
The second quarter was more of the same with the Rens goading the Panthers into two more technical fouls. One was clearly a masterful acting job from Thaddeus Hall where he jumped back and yelled after minimal contact from the left forearm of Panthers wing Malik Nichols.
As for the game Hall was a scoring machine, finishing with a game high 29 points. Hall made three treys in the game and constantly found himself at the free throw line. He was aggressive and attacked the basket, finishing countless lay-ups during the game.
Bennett, who scored 21 points and tied for the Panthers team high with Melvin Johnson, was as good as advertised, getting a few big dunks and stroking the long range shot effortlessly. It wasn't enough to outshine Samuel.
Samuel, who is arguably the top point guard in the city, seemed to come out in the second half with an extremely aggressive mindset on the offensive end. He didn't score in the first half, but in the second half he started to pull up for jumpers, including a couple of threes. He penetrated into the paint and look to finish instead of finding people.
One of the key moments of the game was when Samuels was being defended by Johnson. Samuel drove in and pulled up for a 17 foot jumper when Johnson came from the right side of the court and fouled Samuel in the act. It was his fifth foul and his team was leading 76-74 at the time. The bigger issue was that the Panthers had to play with four players the rest of the way. It didn't turn out well as the Rens basically created a turnover every time the Panthers came down the court.
Still, despite Samuel looking for his shot more often, he was still the pass first point guard that you always see. He had more than a few nice dimes in the game, probably near a double digit total. That was why he was able to find Sheppard when the game was on the line, he did what comes naturally.
Sheppard had 11 points while Kentan Facey added 12 for The Rens Juniors.
Juice Squeezes Out Q-Five.com, 74-65
Juice came alive in the third quarter after trailing Q-5 35-34 at halftime. Trailing 48-45 late in the third, Juice closed out the quarter on an 8-0 run to take the lead into the final period.
Juice only led 57-55 when a sequence of events solidified the game for Juice. Leroy Fludd, who is 6-5 and scored a game high 19 points, took off in the lane and violently tomahawk dunk with one hand over 6-8 Kuran Iverson. After Fludd finished the dunk where he practically landed on Iverson's neck, he gave him a long look before he went back down the court.
Still, Juice wasn't finished when Shaquille Davis was able to get a full head of steam before rising and cocking back the ball for another super facial, this time on top of Kareem Canty. Both dunks only made the score 61-55, but the damage was done as a timeout was called by Q-Five. It was pretty much over. Juice had flexed its muscles and Q-Five turned into a three point shooting team late, without much success.
New Heights 73 Outplay Playaz Juniors, 73-62
The Playaz had the extra height advantage as New Heights was basically playing with only one big man. However, the Playaz couldn't exploit the lack of size at all during the game. This happened even when Jimmy Hall, the New Heights only true big man, went to the bench in foul trouble.
New Heights was able to keep the Playaz at arms distance all the way through the final period. Rashad Andrews fouled out with 4:01 left in the game and left New Heights with only 5 players. New Heights never had to worry about the Playaz even when they went small. The result was a relatively easy win.
New Heights was led by Hall and Tyliek Kimbrough, who each scored 14 points in the game. Shane Rector scored a game high 28 points for Playaz.
Team Flight Tops Sports U., 68-61
The final score does not tell the real story about this game. Team Flight was never really threatened. Team Flight outscored Sports U. 21-8 after the first quarter and maintained a double digit lead until there were only a few minutes left. The comeback by Sports U. was purely cosmetic.
The highlight of the game was Felix Balamou, a super athletic guard who has committed to St. John's. He had an array of dunks even though he was visibly bothered by a bad left foot. He played the entire game without putting his heel on the ground and still jumped ridiculously high.
Balamou finished with a team high 26 points, while his Team Flight teammate Christopher Obekpa chipped in with 17 points and probably the best dunk of the entire afternoon. Obekpa caught a rebound with both hands over the back of a Sports U. player. While somewhat suspended in air, Obekpa closed the coffin with a two-handed monster dunk. Tariq Carey scored a game high 28 points for Sports U.
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