SOUTH JAMAICA, N.Y. - After both squads knocked off their respective powerhouse program contenders in the semifinal matchups, following an hour of rest, the teams took center stage to battle for the preseason championship at the iS8/Nike Fall Tip-Off Classic on Saturday.
Although the two squads may not have been what some onlookers thought they would see in the final game of the tournament, when the dust settled, it was ball clubs Primetime and 2GZ Entertainment that had to duke it out for the title.
Despite about three quarters of heavy-hitting, intense basketball, Primetime took the championship over 2GZ Entertainment in a convincing 13-point win, 103-90.
There was no room for error in the first quarter, as neither team allowed its opponent much space to pass nor create off the bounce. Primetime nearly matched 2GZ bucket-for-bucket, taking a four-point advantage, 17-13, in the final minutes of the warm-up phase. However, with 1:50 left in the period, 2GZ tied the matchup on a 3-pointer by the smooth-shooting Charles Wingate (Hoosac (N.Y.) '15).
A bucket by 2GZ's Will Valdez (Boys & Girls H.S. (N.Y.) '14) at the close of the quarter gave his squad a 25-21 lead over Primetime.
In the second period, the four-point margin remained fixed, as the score was 27-23 in favor of 2GZ. Daquaise Andrews (Thomas Jefferson (N.Y.) '14) sank 1-of-2 at the charity stripe, while teammate Wingate, who had been instrumental to 2GZ's success from the perimeter, widened the gap to eight points, 31-23, with yet another 3-pointer.
As the contest became noticeably lopsided, Primetime stepped up to level the playing field. Kobie Eubanks (Our Savior New American (N.Y.) '14) drilled a 3-pointer from deep to cut the margin to five for Primetime. Soon, after a basket by Devonte Green (LuHi (N.Y.) '16), Primetime was down by only three points, 33-30.
Watching Primetime slowly turning the momentum of the game in its favor, trimming another point off of its deficit and trailing by only two points, 37-35, 2GZ's Tenie Johnson (God's Academy (Texas) post-grad) scored on a few baskets to prevent his squad's lead from getting totally dissolved. Teammate Valdez tacked on a toughness basket with a shot off the glass to put 2GZ up by four points, 41-35.
By the 2:54 mark, it was clear that Primetime's Green, who had been relatively quiet in the semifinal match against New Heights, was beginning to find his stroke when he sank a 3-pointer that gently cleared the net. After his bucket, a basket by Temple Gibbs (Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) '16) off an assist from teammate Marvin Prochet (LuHi (N.Y.) '15) tied the matchup at 41.
Following up on the play, Primetime's Seton Hall-commit Khadeen Carrington (Bishop Loughlin (N.Y.) '14) gave his team its first advantage of the second quarter when he netted a basket to put Primetime up by two points, 43-41. Valdez, the tough point guard from 2GZ, quickly answered and knotted the matchup at 43.
With 45 seconds left before halftime, 2GZ sank a basket that lifted the team by an ace, but Primetime was able to earn a deuce of its own to squeak ahead of 2GZ by a point, 50-49, just before the break.
In the third quarter, 2GZ turned up the heat, gaining a six-point lead, 66-60. However, Primetime's Green stopped the bleeding draining a 3-pointer, making the score 66-63. Like water to the face, Primetime rapidly woke up after the bucket by Green, as the team took a two-point advantage, 68-66, moments later on a basket by Eubanks.
With two minutes left in the tertiary phase, Eubanks effortlessly drained another 3-pointer, this time pushing his team up by five points, 71-66. In the final 1:25, Primetime outscored 2GZ 6-2, paving the way for a nine-point advantage, 77-68.
As evident by his confidence and high-level plays, Primetime's Green hit a shooting groove in the fourth quarter. Despite attempts to narrow the Primetime advantage, Green's shooting proficiency damaged the hopes of 2GZ staging a comeback. Each time 2GZ grinded out a hard-fought basket, Green would erase their progress with an effortless basket.
Ultimately, a trey by Green gave Primetime as much as a 14-point advantage, 84-70. As Green continued to play in the zone, 2GZ desperately tried to break the rhythm of Primetime with tough defense. However, the defense proved unsuccessful as Primetime calmly moved the ball around knowing it had a point advantage and time in its favor.
Sparked by Andrews, a small 5-0 run helped 2GZ get within nine points, 84-75, but Carrington banked a basket to elevate Primetime's advantage to double-digits again, 86-75. After a few penetrating plays to the rack by Valdez and Johnson, as well as a 3-pointer by Andrews, 2GZ still had a window to stage a comeback as the squad was within eight points, 90-82, with about four minutes left to play.
However, that window slowly began to close as, Primetime was able to do just enough to disrupt 2GZ's shooting attempts on the inside and the outside. As a result, 2GZ was outscored 9-4 over the next two minutes, resulting in a 13-point advantage for Primetime with 1:57 left in the game.
Primetime had four players with 21 points or more. Eubanks, who won MVP honors for his role in the championship win, netted a game-high 26 points. Teammate Green finished with 24 points, while Carrington and Gibbs had 21 points apiece. For 2GZ, Johnson had a team-high 24 points, while Andrews, who won the sportsmanship award, added 17 points. Teammate Valdez, Tyler Whitehead and Wingate recorded 13, 10 and nine points, respectively.