NEW YORK, N.Y. - After the 16-and-under pool play portion of the Rumble in the Bronx concluded, the stage was finally set for the playoffs.
At Baruch College on Saturday, the post-pool play commenced with two nightcaps scheduled for 9:45 p.m. on two courts of the gymnasium. On court one, a highly-touted New York squad was battling to advance in the playoffs. However, its opponent, a team based in Toronto, Canada, brought a dynamic squad of its own and posed quite a challenge for the local squad.
In the end, after an intense uphill struggle between the New York Lightning and CIA Bounce, CIA Bounce would be the last team standing when the smoke cleared and the dust settled.
Despite losing the contest by four points, 77-73, the New York Lightning started the matchup with an 18-8 advantage after a quick lay-in by Lightning's C.J. Davis (Archbishop Molloy High School (N.Y.) '14). As the matchup continued, CIA Bounce began to effectively utilize its scoring weapons. CIA's 10-point deficit converted into a one-point lead, 22-21, by the 7:36 mark of the first half.
Davis effectively ran the floor for the Lightning, also quickly evolving into the team's go-to - and at times only - point producer on the floor. However, with the likes of big man Tyrell Green (15 points) and the long and strong Marial Shayok (13 points) pacing CIA, it quickly became clear that the New York Lightning needed more consistent options on the floor and a better defensive posture to notch the victory and advance to the next round of playoffs.
At about the three-minute mark of the primary stanza, CIA Bounce led by five points, 29-24, before Lightning's Dimencio Vaughn (St. Agnes (N.Y.) '15) netted a basket with 2:20 left before halftime. However, CIA Bounce extended its grip on the game into the second half, but the Lightning were able to the deficit within four points, 38-34, around the 13:39 mark.
Even so, things changed when CIA kicked it up a notch.
CIA Bounce shut out New York Lightning from the middle, preventing the squad from obtaining boards for extra possessions on both ends of the floor. In doing this, it seemed as if the Lightning could only get a jumpshot off per possession.
As a squad that thrives in transition, the New York Lightning - limited by insufficient rebounding, coupled with lopsided officiating - did not get the opportunity to run on CIA Bounce to stage a comeback.
With CIA Bounce clicking on all cylinders, as Malcolm Duvivier (12 points) added an outside element and great leadership at the one for the squad, the Toronto team pulled away and earned as much as a 13-point advantage, 61-48, by the seven-minute mark of the second stanza.
With the Lightning facing intense physicality down low, and foul calls hard to come by, the New York Lightning had to earn each point it fought to get on the board. By the 4:04 mark of the latter stanza, a basket by Kahari Beaufort (St. Raymond's High School (N.Y.) '14) brought the contest within four points again, 65-61.
Although CIA Bounce tried to pull away, Lightning's Davis and company matched the squad bucket-for-bucket, maintaining the differential at about two possessions. With 2:35 remaining in the contests, Davis sunk 1-of-2 from the stripe to bring his team within three points, 69-66 - the closest margin since the opening minutes of the second half.
Still, Duvivier, displaying his clutch range, knocked down a 3-pointer that seemed to break the New York Lightning's surge and confidence. The basket gave way to CIA Bounce, ultimately, regaining as much as an eight-point advantage, 76-68, over the competition with less than a minute remaining in the contest.
In the loss, Davis scored a game-high 21 points in the matchup, while teammates Vaughn and Beaufort added 15 points a piece.
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