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Tru-Ballaz Quarterfinals Recap

BRONX, NY- It was Quarterfinal Saturday at the Tru-Ballaz Preseason H.S. Invitational with the FDA III gym packed to see 8 of the top high school teams in the New York City area face off, with each looking to advance to Tuesday's semifinals.

3 of the 4 games proved to be back and forth contests that could've gone either way, while the other one was a physical and gritty game that even though it was a bit more one sided, was still chock full of action. was on hand to take in each of the quarterfinals on Saturday and we now give you a recap of the action that took place in the heart of the Bronx.

Cardinal Hayes takes-out Brooklyn Collegiate, 62 - 52

Joe Toussaint, Jaylen Murray & Adam Cisse
Joe Toussaint, Jaylen Murray & Adam Cisse (M. Libert)

Through the first quarter and a half you never would've guessed that it would be the Cardinals who would take the 10-point win as Majesty Johnson '20 was hitting every shot he put up, while Jaylin Anderson '20 was showing to be a valuable scoring weapon both inside and out.

With all of the Hayes stars struggling the Lions jumped out to a 27-7 lead with 4:34 left in the second quarter, a lead that in most instances would be considered insurmountable, but this is the Cardinals, a team that thrives on the comeback and priding themselves on never being out of a game.

Joe Toussaint '19 started to really get the Hayes offense going as in the last three minutes of the opening half he would knock down 3 three balls, and with Adam Cisse '19 doing a great job of controlling the paint and scoring down low, the Cardinals slowly started their creep back into this one as they went into the half down just 31-22.

A once 20-point deficit was trimmed by more than half in just over a 4-minute span heading into halftime, and Hayes wasn't done there.

Still showing his shooting touch, Toussaint opened the 3rd with another triple, though Brooklyn Collegiate did all they could to stem the tide as Charles Brown '19 sank a three on the Lions end. Even though Toussaint and Jaylen Murray '20 were scoring in bunches for the Cardinals, the Lions were finding an offensive rhythm of their own again as Johnson hit a corner three late in the quarter to see Brooklyn Collegiate still hold a 48-41 lead going to the 4th quarter.

It was there that everything went Cardinal Hayes' way as Cisse went 1 of 2 from the FT line, then Toussaint drained a stepback three, and when Cisse improbably hit a three off the glass with 6:10 to go, the game was tied up at 48.

Soon after a Brooklyn Collegiate turnover allowed the Cardinals to work the ball up the other end and Toussaint found an open Murray on the right wing for an open three which he drained to give Cardinal Hayes their first lead of the game, a lead they would not relinquish.

Anderson was able to score on a reverse driving down the baseline, and even though Johnson was trying to create and finish going to the rim himself, the rolls weren't proving to be kind. Toussaint was in full control down the stretch, and when Murray threw home a dunk at the buzzer it punctuated a major turnaround as Cardinal Hayes rallied from 20 down to ultimately come away with the 62-52 victory.

Scoring a game high 27 points was Toussaint as the Iowa bound guard showed why he is a true high-major talent, with Murray adding 17 points as well in the victory that moves Cardinal Hayes onto the semifinals.

In the defeat it was Johnson who had 18 points to pace Brooklyn Collegiate, while Anderson chipped in with 16 as the Lions run in the Tru-Ballaz Invitational ended.

St. Raymond's over Msgr. Scanlan, 57 - 53

Gary Grant & Tahron Allen
Gary Grant & Tahron Allen (M. Libert)

While this was a tight game from start to finish, the Ravens only trailed for just over 4 minutes the entire game as they never panicked and stuck to what they do best as the duo of Gary Grant '20 and Tahron Allen '21 helped carry a shorthanded St. Raymond's team to a solid 4-point win.

Coming back and playing in only his second game since returning from a fractured wrist, Grant looked to be in midseason form early on as he threw down an impressive two-handed dunk going down the baseline, and then stepped out and showed improved range to help the Ravens take a 17-8 lead late in the opening quarter.

Msgr. Scanlan looked to be settling a bit too much from the outside as they were trying to find their range from behind the arc, but they weren't falling at the outset and the Ravens took advantage.

After an Allen three from the left side with 5:52 to go in the half St. Raymond's took a 26-15 lead, though Joe Munden '20provided a good answer for the Crusaders on the other end as a junior was able to score 8 points in the final 4:38 of the half. The defensive intensity for Scanlan increased as well and the once 11-point St. Ray's lead was down to just 4 at 30-26 at the break.

The momentum had shifted to the Crusaders side late in the opening half, and when Munden hit his third three of the game with 5:12 left in the 3rd quarter, Scanlan had taken a 34-33 lead.

Both teams traded the lead back and forth the rest of the way in the 3rd, though Allen scoring on a 2 on 1 transition break just before the end of the quarter allowed the Ravens to hold on and take a 39-37 lead into the 4th.

Munden and Rodney Bailey '20 were solid on the outside for the Crusaders as both proved to be strong off the dribble down the stretch, with Matthew Mayers '20 providing interior toughness as well, but every time a play needed to be made in the clutch, Grant seemed to be there.

Be it a putback off his own miss, a pull up midrange jumper in the halfcourt, or a driving finish down the baseline, Grant made every play necessarily late. Allen was grabbing every rebound as well, outhustling Msgr. Scanlan in the closing minutes of what was a tight game.

Down just 54-52 with under a minute to go Bailey had a chance to tie the game but he missed a layup, and a Koby Brea '20 tip went around the rim and out before Reggie Hudson '21 was able to gather the rebound and get fouled. He would knock down a pair of FT's for St. Raymond's and seal the deal in the final second as the Ravens were able to hold on late and pull out the hard fought 57-53 victory.

Grant was the high man for St. Raymond's with 16 points while Allen added 13 points as well for the winners. In the loss it was 18 points for Munden who showed star qualities in what was a strong all-around effort to lead the Crusaders.

Wings Academy Tops Mount St. Michael, 66 - 61

Tommy Thomas & Davante Smith
Tommy Thomas & Davante Smith (M. Libert)

In what could be only categorized as a game of runs, the Mountaineers came out strong in grabbing the early lead before Wings climbed back with strong play of their own.

That run after run scenario played out for much of this game as the swings in momentum were often and large, but when Wings Academy needed a big play Tommy Thomas '19 was there to make it for them as he led Wings with 19 points in what would end up being a 5-point win for the PSAL squad.

With Mike Green '19 and Sage Bourbon '19 each connecting from long range early on, Mount St. Michael was able to quickly grab a 9-2 lead, but that wouldn't last long as Thomas scored 9 points during a 15-1 Wings Academy run to shift the lead over to the PSAL school early in the second quarter.

After a called timeout to settle down, the Mountaineers flipped the script back on Wings as Green pushed the tempo more and was able to find Ibrahim Wattara '20 in excellent positions to finish down low as Mount St. Michael would go on a 15-2 run of their own to see them go back up 25-19 late in the half.

A driving layup by Jose Cuello '20 would break up the run and get Wings a little closer, but Mount St. Michael was still able to take a 25-23 lead at the break.

Once and for all Wings seemed to take control in the 3rd as Cuello opened the second half scoring with a long two from just inside the three-point line. Thomas showed his range with a pair of triples as well as the Wings offense seemed to be running a lot smoother as they were able to get things going from long range.

Another help in the 3rd quarter was the play of Davante Smith '19 as the unsung senior was able to attack and finish going at the Mount St. Michael defense as he had 8 in the quarter to help put Wings up 46-38, and at least for the moment in control of the game.

The only thing keeping Mount in the game as things wore on was Wattara as he used his strength and size down low to score near every time he touched the ball in the 4th. Green was able to connect on a couple of late three balls as well, but Thomas was showed off his ability to score off the dribble late, and with Smith connecting on 4 FT's in the closing minute, Wings was able to hold on to take the 66-61 win.

Thomas led Wings Academy with 19 points in the victory, while Smith added 16 points as well for the winners.

Mount St. Michael got 20 points from Wattara who was a force around the rim all game long, with Green also scoring 16 points for the Mountaineers in the defeat.

Brooklyn Law and Tech smashes Wadleigh, 77 - 49

The final quarterfinal game of the day saw the Jets fly out to a quick lead and never look back as Davonta Cook '19 had 24 points to lead Brooklyn Law and Tech to the convincing 22-point win over Wadleigh.

With the Wadleigh defense early on focused on Cook and fellow guard Joseph Pena '19 it was Anthony Desmae '19who was the one who shined. He would score 8 points early on, and 10 in the opening half overall to give Law and Tech a spark from someone who they don't normally get that much offense from.

That's not to say Cook and Pena didn't make their presences felt as Cook was able to get to the rim against anyone as his speed time and time again won out against anyone who tried to guard him one on one, while Pena was able to hit a couple threes of his own in helping Law and Tech to a 27-20 halftime lead.

What was keeping Wadleigh in the game in the opening half was the play Elijah Wynn '19 as the senior guard was able to pull up and knock down shots from the midrange to the tune of 12 points, allowing the Tigers to hang around.

Early in the 3rd quarter though the game slowly started to get away from Wadleigh as it became a very physical and very intense contest that saw a couple of technical fouls be called, and with Law and Tech maintaining their composure they were able to make a living at the FT line.

Stretching out the lead to double digits just before the start of the 4th, the Jets soon pulled away for good as Cook couldn't be stopped, proving to be the best player on the floor on both ends as he was just as strong a defensive weapon as he was on the offensive side.

Cook would score his aforementioned 24 points, with Desmae adding 20 points in an impressive effort of his own to help see Brooklyn Law and Tech coast in the final minutes to what was a solid all-around performance to the tune of a 71-49 win.

With the 4 quarterfinals in the books it's now onto the Tru-Ballaz semifinals which will take place on Tuesday at FDA III H.S. in the Bronx at 6:15pm and 7:30pm. In one semifinal it will be Cardinal Hayes taking on Brooklyn Law and Tech, while the other semifinal will pit Wings Academy against St. Raymond's.