The Boys & Girls Kangaroos took care of business on Thursday. First they had to take care of earlier business by finishing a semifinal match-up against Rice HS that had been postponed on Wednesday due to darkness. Then within hours, the Roos had to play NIA Prep for the SMARTBALL Metro Classic Chip.
Roos Pressure Cooks Rice, 70-63
Starting off ahead, 56-55 with 6 minutes left to play in the fourth quarter, Boys & Girls looked to run down the clock as much as possible as the semifinal game against Rice continued where it left off on Wednesday.
Mike Taylor (9 points, 1 rebound) came out slingin' while PG Antoine Slaughter (4 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal) deftly distributed the basketball. Jeff Neverson's basket would cap off an 8-2 run by the Roos and force Rice into a hurry up offense with only 2:11 left to play.
At first, Rice responded as buckets by Emmanuel Andujar and Devaughn Reid cut into the lead but countering baskets by Anthony Hemmingway (8 points, 4 rebounds) and Malik Nichols (4 points, 2 rebounds) kept the Raiders at bay. Teyvon Myers (16 points) and Leroy Fludd (13 points, 1 block) who was on fire for Boys & Girls on Wednesday put in a relative quiet 6 minutes on Thursday.
Jermaine Sanders (21 points, 3 rebounds), who was effective on Wednesday, was less accurate on Thursday as Boys & Girls would advance, 70-63, to play NIA Prep later in the evening for championship.
NIA Gets Prepped by Boys & Girls, 66-56
The championship game of the SMARTBALL Metro Classic was a coming out party for 6-foot-6 wing, Malik Nichols (19 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals), who could not be contained by the NIA Prep defense. The rising senior was often times the finisher in transition plays initiated by Antoine Slaughter (15 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal) or Jeff Neverson (4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals).
Boys & Girls relentless and swarming pressure on the defensive end yielded early results as the Roos went into the second quarter up 17-7 as Leroy Fludd (8 points, 2 rebounds) and Mike Taylor (12 points, 1 steal, 1 assist) reigned buckets on NIA.
In the second quarter, NIA began to reciprocate with pressure defense of their own and baskets by Kelvin Amayo (15 points, 3 assists) and Jamir Hammer (8 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block) cut the Roos lead to a point with 4:20 left in the half.
This time it would be Taylor's turn to enact a reoccurring theme with a trey, just when NIA Prep seemed to make headway, to spread the lead out. Once again NIA Prep would come knocking on the Kangaroos' door when Shaquille Thomas (13 points, 2 rebounds) tied the game at 22 with 1:30 left in the half and once again entrance into the lead would be denied as Nichols put the Roos up at the buzzer, 24-22.
Boys & Girls were persistent as head coach Elmer Anderson rotated players in and out to keep the pressure consistent. NIA Prep was also in attack mode as they sought to make a run for their first lead.
With 3:22 left in the third Boys & Girls still maintained a 34-29 lead and a three pointer by Slaughter pushed the lead to 8 points. Amayo tried to make forward progress by offense by Nichols and Anthony Hemmingway (8 points, 2 rebounds) left NIA still down 41-33 as the fourth quarter began.
NIA made a push right from the top of the quarter as Shabazz Jabeteh (5 points, 2 steals) and late arrival, Kervin Rameau (4 points) added offense but a trey from Taylor and inside scoring and defensive rebounds from Nichols were simply too much for the New Jersey prep school.
Deon Maddox (4 points, 1 rebound) stepped up late, cutting what would grow to a 10 point lead down to 6 but a jumper by Slaughter and another trey by Taylor would soon push the Boys & Girls lead back to 10 points where it remained.
Nichols was awarded the MVP and Thomas received the Sportsmanship award.
******************************************* The win by Boys & Girls had even more significance as one of the teams most dedicated fans passed away on Thursday morning. Mr, Steve Simms would always be at Kangaroos games and was a staple at the iS8/Nike tournaments. He was the elderly white haired gentleman that knew and loved the game and always had kind words or made you laugh. He's probably thrilled that "The High" won another one and it just didn't feel right to do this story and not mention his name. R.I.P.