BROOKLYN, NY - It has been trying times for New York as Hurricane Sandy left the area devastated.
As a result, Sunday's final rounds of the iS8/Nike Fall Tip-Off Classic playoffs took place under unusual circumstances. For the NY Panthers, dark clouds were outside but also inside the organization.
In addition to the complications of Sandy, last Tuesday, Gary Charles, the NY Panthers founder and director, suffered a heart attack. Charles's absence during his recovery weighed heavy on the team. Through it all, the squad pulled together to once again win the iS8/Nike championship, 82-65, over the Brooklyn Badgers in a game of attrition.
"I am extremely happy for Coach[es] Paul Ruddock and Cedric [Ellison] because I know the work they put in to make this happen," said Charles.
From his home, Charles also gave praise to his associates. "In my absence, my two right hand guys Nate Cadogan and Marlon Bottom stepped in without skipping a beat," he said.
In an odd twist of fate, both the Panthers and the Badgers would make it to the championship round unexpectedly by way of forfeits. Both New Heights (Seniors) and the New Rens (Kareem) were unable to attend due to transportation issues resulting from the storm and/or conflicts that arose due to the start of the high school season practices.
Due to the semifinal forfeits, the chip originally scheduled for 4pm at Nazareth Regional HS, began a couple of hours early. The tandem of Tyler Ennis (16 points) and Isaiah Briscoe (10 points) came out early for the Panthers with an offensive barrage that had the Badgers on their heels immediately.
Down, 22-12, to start the second quarter, Kevin Mickel (12 points) and Fabian McDonald (5 points) made a push to close the gap but the Panthers managed to maintain a ten point advantage at the half. Mostly due to added firepower from Temple Gibbs (10 points).
Leading, 45-35, at the top of the third quarter, Josh Wilcombe (16 points) would help deny the Badgers an opportunity to build any momentum.
PG Terrence Samuel (21 points) and Shamiek Sheppard (11 points) tried to end the quarter on a positive note. Unfortunately the Brooklyn Badgers found themselves in an even larger 18 point deficit as they limped into the final quarter.
With Mike Young adding 10 points and Rick Philips with 11 points, six of the eight Panthers achieved double-digit scoring. Couple that with an unrelenting defense and the final result was all but a foregone conclusion.
On the Panthers winning yet another chip, Charles said, "I never take them for granted. This is [championship] #18 and I am just as ecstatic as the first one."
For the NY Panthers, Briscoe would earn MVP honors with Ennis being dubbed as iS8/Nike player of the year. Samuel would earn the Sportsmanship award for the Badgers.
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