DEERFIELD, Ill. - It was billed as the heavyweight battle on the first day of the second annual Chicago Summer Classic and in the heat of the action, we almost saw an actual boxing match between members of 43 Hoops and Rising Stars 17's top squads.
As the two teams battled in the second half, several players had to be separated after a hard foul on a member of Rising Stars. The tempers cooled, but the action down the stretch was red hot.
43 Hoops was fresh off an upset win earlier this week in Cincinnati over AAU powerhouse Indiana Elite and with Wisconsin commit, Mike Bruesewitz leading the way, it appeared they were about to take down Rising Stars top team, which features Notre Dame commit Jack Cooley and recent Alabama commit, Cully Payne.
With 43 Hoops trailing late, point guard Marc Sonnen scored on a breakaway lay-up to put his team up one, 49-48. Sonnen, who is committed to Northern Iowa, then hit two free throws with under 20 seconds left to push the lead to three.
But, it was shooting guard Nik Garcia to the rescue once again for Rising Stars. This spring, Garcia helped his team to several wins with late game shooting sprees. This time is was one critical shot after struggling all day from beyond the three point line.
"I really didn't shoot the ball very well all day," Garcia said. "But, I hit the one that we needed."
Garcia said his coaches call him "Big Shot Bob" after Robert Horry's late game NBA heroics. This time, Payne drove and kicked to the wing to Garcia who rattled in a three pointer from the corner to tie the game with four seconds left and sent it to overtime.
The extra session was a battle between Bruesewitz and Cooley early on and Rising Stars went to the foul line to salt away the 57-54 victory.
"It was a good win for us," Garcia said. "We fought back and finally got in going late, put it into overtime, and got the victory."
ANOTHER LATE GAME THRILLER
Court One at Joy Of The Game was the place to be in the late afternoon and early evening. Prior to the overtime game, 43 Hoops other 17 and under squad won a buzzer beater over Illinois Wolves, 45-44.
It looked like the Wolves were headed to a win after sharp shooting 2010 wing prospect Alex Dragicevich popped off a screen and buried a three pointer to give the Wolves a 44-42 lead in the final minutes. But, the Wolves could not put any more points on the board and 43 Hoops had the ball in the final seconds.
2009 guard prospect Reyvein Banks, who had hit five three's in the contest, shook loose from his defender and buried #6, a jumper from 22 feet at the buzzer for a 45-44 victory.
"I was able to get away from my defender and I think he fell down, so I had a clear look at the basket and made the shot," said Banks, who added that he felt it was going in when he released the ball.
PROSPECTS ON THE MARKET
Garcia is one of the top shooting guard prospects who has not yet made a commitment. While several schools are showing interest, he reports an offer from Alabama and Southern Illinois with Wake Forest also showing strong interest. He would like to make a decision before the start of school this fall.
Alex Rossi, a 6-foot-5 wing guard in the 2010 class who attends New Trier High School, has early offers from Iowa and Northwestern. On Wednesday, Coach Bill Carmody and Wildcat assistant, Taveras Hardy were courtside for his game along with Iowa assistant Chad Walthall.
One of the most recognizable names on the court was a late arrival. Marcus Jordan, the son of Michael Jordan, missed most of the first half of his game with his Rising Stars teammates due to traffic problems.
COACHES IN THE HOUSE
There was a nice tally going on a dry erase board near the entrance to Joy Of The Game and it nearly reached 100 different schools being represented on Wednesday afternoon and evening. The final total today was 97. Schools represented included: Iowa, Iowa State, Baylor, Oregon State, Butler, Illinois, Northwestern, Northern Iowa, Bradley, Indiana State, Illinois State, Drake, and Valpo.