SOUTH JAMAICA, N.Y. --- Although there was a lull in some of the matchups at the iS8/Nike Spring H.S Classic, there were two solid matchups between New York squads that paired contenders of equal talent and skill.
On Saturday, at Intermediate School 8 (Queens, N.Y.), six games were scheduled but only five took place as one squad forfeited the contest via absenteeism. The winningest teams of the day, the New York Panthers and Open Season (Long Island, N.Y.), were each able to tack on two victories to their league play record this weekend.
Here are the recaps.
OPEN SEASON SQUEAKS PAST PRIMETIME, 73-72
Both Primetime (N.Y.), coached by Kareem Meminger, and Open Season brought a strong group of players for the rugged, uphill, hardwood battle. The matchup was very physical, making baskets hard to come by and creating a game where the winner was not clearly decided until the final moments of the contest.
Primetime and Open Season stayed very close, as the pendulum did not swing that far in either direction. However, Open Season began to show a markedly better aptitude to share the ball. The constant ball movement spread out Primetime's defense and allowed Open Season to go on a 16-3 run, surging the team ahead, 25-12, on a 3-pointer by Devonte Dixon (Westhampton (N.Y.) '15) to cap the spurt with about four minutes left in the second quarter.
Primetime, which looked disjointed while Open Season had its way, tightened up on defense, poking balls loose and converting those opportunities into points. Primetime's Baylor-bound Kobie Eubanks (Our Savior New American (N.Y) '14) helped plug the leak, pushing his squad into a surge of its own.
After free throws by Losini Kamara (LuHi (N.Y.) '17) and a 3-pointer from Eubanks, Primetime was back within striking distance, 27-23, at halftime.
Since, Primetime went into the locker room with the momentum, it was up to Open Season to meet the challenge in the second half.
Eubanks, who scored eight points in the third quarter en route to a game-high 21 points, continued to put points on the board for Primetime with contributions from teammates Justin Wright-Foreman (H.S. of Construction (N.Y.) '15) and Nicholas Richards (St. Mary's (N.Y.) '17).
Open Season stepped it up also, as Dana King (Valley Stream South (N.Y.) '16), who scored no points in the first half, posted 11 points in the tertiary period. He finished with 13 points. Teammates Prince Hickson (Copiague (N.Y.) '15) and Elijah Bush (Upper Room (N.Y.) '16) also made their presence felt.
As a result, the teams were within a point of one another with Open Season still in the lead, 49-48, late in the third quarter. Hickson stroke two from the free throw line to extend Open Season's advantage to three points, 51-48.
However, a bucket off the glass by Eubanks and a pair at the charity stripe from Foreman gave Primetime its first lead since early in the first half, 52-51, with 1:10 left in the period.
King and Dixon recaptured the advantage before the close of the quarter, 55-52.
In the deciding fourth phase, Open Season held as much as an eight-point lead, 66-58, at the 4:35 mark. Still, Primetime was not ready to lay down. Altine King (St. Edmund's (N.Y.) '14) scored on the next two possessions at the rack, cutting his squad's deficit to just four points, 66-62.
With under a minute left on the clock, Primetime played with a sense of urgency. This hurried pace led to the team tying the game after Altine King grabbed about three offensive boards against contact before flinging the ball behind his head to assist teammate Richards for the deuce.
Knotted at 72, Open Season's Patrick Jackson (St. Mary's (N.Y.) '15), who had seven points in the period, sunk one-of-two from the line with just 12 seconds remaining.
Primetime was able to get the ball down the floor and into the middle, but a timid player passed the ball back out instead of taking the shot closer to the paint. The teammate that he passed it to attempted a 3-pointer as time ticked away, but missed the mark.
Open Season's Hickson finished with a team-high 15 points, while Dana King had 13 points. Teammate Jackson posted 12 points, as Dixon and Bush added 11 points apiece. Primetime's Eubanks had a game-high 21 points, while Richards and Altine King each recorded 13 points. Teammate Foreman scored 12 points.
PANTHERS OUTWORK KENDALL MADISON PLAYAZ, 67-61
After being on the winning end of a forfeit by Team Lucky (N.Y.), the N.Y. Panthers saw their first game of the day as it took on Long Island-based Kendall Madison Playaz (N.Y.).
The game heated up early in the first quarter as Wagner-bound Aaren Edmead (Deer Park (N.Y.) '14) came out firing for the Playaz, showing off his long range jumpshot. His actions were quickly met by an equal and opposite reaction from Panthers' Oakland-commit Femi Olujobi (Brentwood (N.Y.) '14) and Elijah Bailey (LuHi (N.Y.) '15).
Despite Zach Moore (North Babylon (N.Y.) '15) and teammate Brandon Tolliver (Riverhead (N.Y.) '14) assisting in the point production for the Playaz, the Panthers were still able to hold a two-point lead, 19-17.
That advantage rapidly grew to nine points, 26-17.
Midway through the second quarter, Kendall Madison Playaz narrowed the deficit to just four points 32-28. However, the two-possession margin was short-lived as the Panthers led by seven points, 37-30, with about a minute left in the period.
Still, the relentless Playaz used an effective 2-3 zone with quickly closing gaps to prevent passes to the interior and force turnovers. Through its defense, the team trailed by just three points, 37-34, at the break when a basket by the Playaz' Jared Cowell cleared the net just before the close of the first half.
The Panthers, behind the great ball movement of Isaiah Ice (Iona Prep (N.Y.) '14) and the mismatch down low created by the 7-foot Gabe Brown (Ward Melville (N.Y.) '14), coupled with the buckets by Bailey, regained their seven-point lead, 49-42, in the third phase.
Although Edmead and Tolliver attempted to keep the squad above water, big shots from Bailey helped maintain the comfortable three-possession distance for the Panthers into the fourth quarter.
The Playaz threatened the Panthers by coming as close as four points, 65-61, but, despite the gritty effort, the squad could not completely clear the hurdle in front of them.
The New York Panthers were led in scoring by Bailey, who posted a game-high 25 points. Teammate Brown netted nine points, while Ice and Olujobi each had seven points. Kendall Madison Playaz' Edmead finished with a team-high 19 points, while teammates Tolliver and Moore added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
In Other News...
Team Redhawks proved to be too much for Team Lucky, bulldozing its way to a 26-point victory, 60-34, in the first matchup of the day. Redhawks' Devonte Williams led his unit with 18 points. Team Lucky saw a 14-point contribution from Ahmad Alston.
Newburgh Panthers and NYC Jazz played a tight matchup throughout the contest, alternating between lead changes and ties. The Jazz led for most of the fourth and final phase but, ultimately, the Panthers edged the Jazz by three points, 58-55. The Newburgh Panthers' Benard Brown finished with 14 points. Teammates Elias Oquendo and Nathaniel Wheeler recorded 13 and 12 points, respectively. NYC Jazz saw much work put in by Amari Walters, who netted 13 points in the third quarter alone to finish with a game-high 17. Teammate Bryan Cueto chipped in 10 points.
Open Season earned their 2-0 standing with a convincing win over NYC Finest, 82-52. Because of the tardiness of the Finest players coming to the game, Open Season started off the contest with an eight-point advantage as a penalty for its opponent's lateness. Open Season just went on an unmatched run from there. The squad was led by the 20 points of Devonte Dixon. His teammate Eilisia Hall added 18 points in the win. Despite the loss, NYC Finest's Hamidou Diallo carried much of the weight for his team, posting a game-high 21 points.