Sometimes the youthful energy and adrenaline of an underclassman-dominated unit can offer an advantage over a seasoned, senior-laden squad. Many times, a group of sophomores have less to lose and display a tenacity that their elders don't. Team Underrated's Class of 2013-14 group gave iS8/Nike Fall Tip-Off Classic spectators a dose of that perseverance against a first-half-dominating, battle-tested Positive Direction team, but would they have enough caffeine to transmogrify their full-throttle comeback into a victory?
Not quite. Despite a valiant comeback, Positive Direction were able to stave off Team Underrated for a 71-65 win on Sunday afternoon.
Both units displayed their linchpins early, as Molloy HS' George Davis and Shabazz HS' Mike Reid carried the torch for Positive Direction and Team Underrated, respectively. Reid's resolute defensive effort, energy, and scoring prowess balanced out a whirlwind of offense from Davis, and the game remained an even and high-octane one as the first quarter wound down.
Despite a lack of touches for big Positive Direction's notable big man, Jermaine Lawrence, the guard play of Davis and rack attack of Ta'Jay Henry (12 points) helped the team catapult a 7-0 run to create some breathing room. Team Underrated remained in striking range early in the second quarter (thanks to the smash mouth inside efforts of big man Asaih Giles (14 points) and a trey from Davis' Molloy teammate, C.J. Davis), but once Lawrence became involved, Positive Direction were off and running. A tough zone subdued the offense of Team Underrated, and by mid-third quarter they were in a 20 point ditch.
A freakishly difficult reverse from the 6'0" Davis capped a 14-0 Positive Direction run and made it a 45-25 game. But that would be the end of Positive Direction's stranglehold.
Slowly, Team Underrated began to chip away at the 20 point deficit. With key contributions from Reid, Giles, Gabe Kilpatrick (9 points), and C.J. Davis (10 points), they kept plugging to outscore Positive Direction, 25-14, in the fourth quarter. Less (George) Davis sightings and porous free throw shooting from Positive Direction early in the final period greased Team Underrated's wheels and left the door open for a full-fledged comeback. A pretty scoop shot and ensuing free throw from C.J. Davis with 1:20 left to play brought Team Underrated to their opponent's doorstep, 64-62, but they would inch no closer. Lawrence (14 points) cashed in on a scoop lay-up with 45 seconds left to bolster the advantage given by the few late Positive Direction free throws that dropped, and a late turnover from the young squad closed the deal.
Mike Reid's 22 points and George Davis' 20 (15 of which came in the first half) led Team Underrated and Positive Direction, respectively.
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