SOUTH JAMAICA, N.Y. - In its second week of action, the iS8/Nike Spring High School Classic featured some solid teams from both New York and out of state.
There were no games ending in blowouts at the gymnasium at Intermediate School 8 on Saturday, as teams duked it out to improve record standings in their respective divisions.
The most glaring theme of the day was "the (near) comeback." Although none of the late surges resulted in wins, the teams fighting uphill never quit - even when their chances of winning looked very slim. That theme created for quite a few entertaining contests.
Let's take a look at some of the day's matchups.
LP Fam Defeats Team Blaze, 45-37
LP Fam (N.Y.) did just enough in the first quarter, leading by as much as six points, 12-6, by the close of the period. Team Blaze (N.J.), which seemed to struggle to get its motor going against a strong defense enforced by LP Fam, was only able to slash its deficit to four points, 14-10 with about 3:50 remaining in the second phase.
Still, LP Fam did a great job communicating with one another on defense. The squad effectively responded to ball rotations as well as quickly closing out passing and driving lanes. This made it difficult for Team Blaze to score, and helped LP Fam go up by as much as nine points, 19-10, on a 1-of-2 performance at the charity stripe by the long and energetic Sha Uleyes (Faith Baptist (Ga.) '14).
Team Blaze was able to go on a mini run in the remaining time left in the second quarter, cutting the LP Fam advantage to only five points, 19-14, by halftime.
In the third quarter, LP Fam's Isaiah Jackson (Pathways College Prep (N.Y.) '14; will transfer to Christ the King Prep (N.J.) next season), who finished with a team-high 12 points, displayed both his scoring and facilitating ability. Off a feed from Jackson, LP Fam earned a 21-16 lead. However, Team Blaze's Damon Lynn (Union Catholic (N.J.) '13), who scored a game-high 16 points, including nine in the second half, helped his team push the ball and outscored LP Fam, 8-3, in the ensuing minutes to tie the matchup at 24.
On the next possession, Lynn knocked down a 3-pointer to take the lead for Team Blaze, 27-24, by the 2:02 mark of the tertiary period. Team Blaze continued its run, as Elijah Brown (Dayton H.S. (N.J.) '13) helped lift his team to as much as a five-point advantage, 31-26.
LP Fam came back to life, ultimately, tying the contest at 34 in the fourth quarter on a nice move to the middle by Joshua Morris (Vincent Robinson (N.J.); postgrad).
Although there would be one more tie, LP Fam continued to work as a unit on both ends of the floor and secured the win with athletic baskets and free throws.
LP Fam's Morris recorded 10 points, while teammate Uleyes recorded eight points. Team Blaze's Tevon Bennett (Orange High School (N.J.) '13) and teammate Brown each finished with eight points.
Ben Gordon All-Stars Trump TB Elite, 58-47
Ben Gordon All-Stars (N.Y.), which consists of players from Mount Vernon High School (N.Y.), looked as if it were on its way to a major blowout win over its opponent, TB Elite. However, despite the loss, TB Elite (N.Y.) put up a struggle to keep the score down.
At its peak, with some serious grind-it-out work by Brandon Martin ('14), who netted a game-high 18 points, Ben Gordon All-Stars held as much as an 18-point advantage, 22-4, on a basket by Devonte Banner ('14) in the second quarter.
On the trip down, another basket by Banner maintained the margin at 18 points - this time with the score being 24-6.
TB Elite found some answers to the Ben Gordon All-Stars' defense and went on to score six unanswered points. The run, which was sparked by Marcellus Nazaire (St. Francis Prep (N.Y.) '13) and capped by Daquan Miller (Bishop Loughlin (N.Y.) '14), resulted in the deficit being snipped to 12 points, 24-12.
Still, Ben Gordon responded to TB Elite by outscoring the team 6-4, closing the half with a 14-point lead, 30-16.
Opening the third quarter with much energy and fight, TB Elite was able to bring the margin down to nine points, 32-23, early in the period. Still, true to form, Ben Gordon would end up closing out the period on a strong note, creeping back up to a 14-point lead.
By the fourth quarter, TB Elite once again brought the game within three possessions, 48-39. However, despite major contributions from Daqauise Andrews (Bayside High School (N.Y.) '14), who scored a team-high 14 points (10 in the second half), the squad could not completely overcome the hump down the stretch.
Ben Gordon All-Stars posed a difficult matchup problem on both ends in terms of speed, scoring ability and chemistry. As a result, the squad was very difficult to stop, as it did very well in moving the ball around on the offensive end and playing smart and in control on the defensive end.
Ben Gordon All-Stars' Banner posted 14 points in the win, while teammate Traquann "Boogie" Scales ('13) added eight points in the win. TB Elite's Miller had 10 points.
Warriors Double Up, Take Down LP Fam and Kendall Madison Playaz
Out-of-state squad, the Warriors, based in Philadelphia, Pa., took on two New York teams on Saturday and came out with a 'W' in both matchups. The Warriors were a last-minute replacement for Playaz Club (Juniors), which recently pulled out of the tournament before the team played a game.
The Warriors proved to be a solid contender in the first matchup, defeating LP Fam by eight points, 46-38. The squad trailed LP Fam (N.Y.) going into halftime, 21-18. However, in the third quarter the Warriors took over the game for good. The out-of-state team led by as much as 11 points, 39-28, by the end of the period.
In the fourth quarter, LP Fam gave the Warriors a fright when it was able to close the gap to six points three times down the stretch. The last time LP Fam narrowed the margin to six was when Isaiah Jackson was fouled while attempting a 3-pointer with just a few ticks on the clock. Jackson sank 2-of-3 from the line, making the score 44-38.
Warriors' Hyking Brisbon (Communication Technical High School (Pa.) '14) recorded a game-high 16 points, while teammate C.J. Wolfe (Delaware Valley Charter (Pa.) '14) added 13 points. LP Fam's Joshua Morris posted a team-high 11 points, while teammate Jackson had 10 points.
In the Warriors' second matchup of the day, the squad outlasted Kendall Madison Playaz (N.Y.), 53-52.
By halftime, the Warriors were leading their opponent by 10 points, 23-13. However, that advantage ended up being extended to 19 points, 41-22, in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
In what appeared to be fatigue, the Warriors allowed Kendall Madison Playaz to stage a dramatic 23-9 run to cut the deficit to only five points, 50-45. This super surge was behind the hot-shooting of Kendall Madison's Aaren Edmead (Deer Park H.S. (N.Y.) '14), who netted all 11 of his points in the fourth and final phase.
Ultimately, in the final 1:32 of the game, the Warriors did just enough to poke its head above water after Kendall Madison's Edmead kept the faucet running.
Warriors' Brisbon had a team-high 13 points, while teammate Dashon Giddings (Delaware Valley Charter (Pa.) '15) added 12 points. Kendall Madison's Kavione Green (Amityville H.S. (N.Y.) '13) finished with a game-high 14 points, which he scored all in the second half, including 10 points in the third quarter alone.