BAYSIDE, NY - It will be very hard to beat Boys & Girls this year and even more difficult to beat them by a significant amount.
Both lessons were learned on Saturday by 8-Ball as defensive-minded Boy's High pressured them end-to-end, forcing them into losing the Beacon 158 Back-to-School Classic championship, 87-74.
Whereas 8-Ball manhandled Dozo (B) in the semis on Thursday, Boys & Girls wasn't having it. Leroy Fludd (25 points) housed 8-Ball inside and with a trey from the right corner, giving the players from the Brooklyn PSAL school an early lead.
8-Ball would come storming back and took the lead as Brian Heckstall (17 points) showed a frequent ability to break Boys & Girls press & trap defense.
The lead changed hands a few times as both teams jockeyed for momentum. Good ball distribution from Tyliek Kimbrough (6 points) would help propel Boy's High to a 7 point advantage with his attacking style of guard play.
8-Ball fought back as Zach Hamilton (29 points) along with buckets by Heckstall and Louis Actille (20 points) shaved 8-Ball's deficit down to a point. With 6:40 left in the first half a floater by Kevin Hill (5 points) snatched the lead from Boys High once again. Hill who shot money balls on Thursday struggled on Saturday.
Fludd would put his veteran leadership on display, knocking down another three-ball from the opposite corner that would shift the momentum and the lead back into Boys & Girls. There was 1:50 left to play and a put-back by Nick Johnson (9 points) gave Boys & Girls a 10 point lead as the half was coming to an end.
Down 47-37 to begin the second half, 8-Ball was clearly back-peddling as Boys & Girls kept their defensive intensity steady. A drive by Bryce Jones (10 points) and a floater plus a dunk by Jamie Killings (10 points) expanded the lead to 18 points.
Boy's High would get lazy in their defense midway through the second half and commit foul, putting 8-Ball on the line frequently but a poor percentage from the charity stripe cancelled those opportunities.
Already in an uphill climb, the poor free-throw shooting along with a shallow bench would eventually take its toll on 8-Ball. Boys & Girls would ultimately rack up a 9 point win.