May 19, 2008

Shooting Stars repeat as iS8/Nike Champs

The top-seeded Shooting Stars cemented their place in iS8 lore on Sunday afternoon, capturing their second straight tournament championship with a 122-104 victory over Playaz Club Seniors that wasn't even as close as the final score indicates.

Playaz Club, despite 41 points from Fordham-bound guard Jiovanny Fontan, was able to hang with the Shooting Stars for just a quarter before the loaded favorites took over.

The Shooting Stars began the game on a 7-0 run, but the Playaz pushed back, and a three by Fontan cut the deficit to 9-7. A 6-0 stretch by the Shooting Stars put the lead back at eight, but the Playaz responded with an 8-0 spurt -- capped by a three from Alberto Estwick - to even the game at 15-15.

Louisville-bound forward Samardo Samuels then followed a Shooting Star miss with a jam and converted a fast break lay-up to spark a 12-5 run by the defending champions. The Playaz Club stood its ground though, ending the first quarter down just 31-25.

Samuels dropped in another fast break lay-up to start the second, but forward Chris Gaston scored five straight points to bring the Playaz Club within three. At that point though, the Shooting Stars went on a run that the Playaz wouldn't totally recover from.

Five points from Erving Walker and four from Samuels helped the Shooting Stars tear off on a 14-0 run -- capped by a runner off the glass by Walker - to go ahead 47-30. During that run, Gaston was whistled for a questionable technical foul when arguing a call, contributing to the Shooting Star momentum.

A reverse lay-up by Mike Rosario with 2:47 left in the second temporarily cut the Shooting Star lead to a dozen at 51-39, but Devin Ebanks scored six straight points in an 11-2 run by the Shooting Stars to close the half. The defending champs led 62-41 at the break, and wouldn't look back from then on.

Just for good measure, the Shooting Stars opened the third period on 12-2 run to officially put the game out of reach. The Playaz only got closer than 20 behind in garbage time.

Samuels, voted MVP for the game, led the Shooting Stars with 29 points, while Ebanks -- who announced at halftime that he would be attending West Virginia in the fall -- added 26. Mookie Jones also chipped in 19 points for the champs. Fontan, who won the sportsmanship award, led all scorers with 41 points, while Gaston added 17 and Rosario 16 for the Playaz Club.

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