NEW YORK, NY - The competition stepped up a notch on Wednesday as Long Island and New Jersey entered the picture to take on Queens and Brooklyn in the semifinal round of the Take Flight NYC Next vs. Next Tournament at Jordan Brand's Terminal 23.
Queens Edges Long Island, 56-54.
After trailing for the majority of the game, a massive slam dunk followed by a NBA range trey by Rawle Alkins would cement the come from behind victory for the Queens Team.
"I live for the clutch moments," said Alkins after the game. "I told the coach, don't run the play for anybody but me."
Solid shooting by Damon Wilson with Chris Atkinson running the point buoyed the Long Island squad early on. Alkins struggled throughout the game and got his shot punched frequently by Long Island's taller big men Cheick Diallo and Kassoum Yakwe but Justin Wright-Foreman kept Queens in the hunt with outstanding perimeter shooting.
"I had a chip on my shoulder because Cheick Diallo is considered one of the top juniors in my class so I had to come out, perform and play as a team," said Wright-Foreman.
Long Island threatened to take a seven point lead into the second half as Djibril Diallo drained a trey as time was winding down but Wright Forman countered with a three-ball of his own at the buzzer.
Long Island hedged out in front 54-51 as the game drew to a close but with 10.1 seconds left to play, Alkins finally decided to go hard, putting up the five quick points that sent Long Island packin'.
Wright-Forman was high man for Queens with 18 points with Alkins adding 16 points. Wilson scored a game high 20 points for Long Island followed by Atkinson with 12 points.
New Jersey Shores up Brooklyn, 62-59
Even without the services of Isaiah Briscoe, New Jersey managed to hold off a 16-3 run by a hard charging and aggressive Brooklyn Team to advance.
"We had to play hard. We had to play aggressive to match their intensity," said 6'2" junior Ceasar DeJesus (Teaneck HS). "We had to hold them off for a little bit but after that, we had to keep scoring."
NJ captured an early 18-13 lead behind sharp shooting from DeJesus. A trey by PG Bryce Aiken forced Coach Andre Ambrose to call an early time out as Brooklyn now trailed by 8.
Brooklyn applied ball pressure on the point and inched back in the game and with 3:08, 6'2" sophomore Aaron Walker, Jr. knotted the game at 23.
DeJesus would once again create separation offensively to help NJ take a 32-26 lead into the second half.
NJ increased their lead with a quick putback by 6'9" sophomore forward Martinaz Paceivicius (St. Benedict's) and with 16:00 the score was 45-29 as 6'8" sophomore forward Arnaldo Toro (St. Benedict's) hit a layup in transition.
The game was coming easy to the shorthanded Jersey squad. The lion's share of Brooklyn's offense in the first 5 minute came from 6'3" junior Lavar Harewood (Brooks School) while NJ scored by committee.
8:15 remained and NJ led by a commanding 55-40. Travis Atson, who had a strong first half began to step up late in the second and helped pull Brooklyn to within 9 with 3:36 left to play.
A long three by Walker and suddenly the score was 58-52. A NJ turnover with 2:36 gave Brooklyn the ball and a foul put 6'3" junior Craig McKensie (Brooklyn Collegiate) on the line where he cut the lead to 4 points.
With 1:37 a drive by Walker and the score was 58-56. A transition bucket by Paceivicius ended Brooklyn's 16-3 run and extended NJ lead to 4 points and they would hold on for the win.
DeJesus was high man for the evening scoring 24 points for New Jersey with Martinaz adding 10 points. Atson led Brooklyn with 20 points with Harewood contributing 19 points,
The championship between Queens and New Jersey will take place on Sunday at 10:30 PM