Sunday's Roundball Classic championship game had all the makings of a hardwood classic.
The game was played at the legendary Gauchos Gym in The Bronx, NY. You can hear the trains passing by every so often, which rattle the gym like an earthquake. Not to say the game needed anything to set the tone, but it did make for a nice addition to the setting. The game itself was fast paced, including several lead changes. The crowd was into it throughout the game, heckling players after turnovers. The wire-to-wire match-up between the Gauchos and Team New York came down to one final play, and ended with the Gauchos clinging to a 79-78 victory.
Team New York held the lead for most of the first half - including the largest lead of the game for either team by 8. Team New York was lead by Jermaine Sanders, a 6'4" swingman from Rice High School. In the beginning, the Far Rockaway native was relentless in getting to the rack and finishing around the rim. He and the rest of Team New York dominated the offensive glass early but the Gauchos outside shooting kept them close throughout; namely, Brian Bernardi. "Once I get into it, I won't stop. I'll just keep making them and making them." The 6'3" shooting guard from Xaverian hit his 2nd of his 3 first half threes to give the Gauchos a 16-13 lead - their first of the game.
After Team New York took a 38-30 lead off a Kevin Perez floater, the Gauchos responded with a 7-0 run to close the half. The Gauchos would take a brief lead to start the 2nd half before Team New York responded with 7 straight points of their own. Bernardi would stop the bleeding with his 4th 3 of the ball game. The Gauchos had to get their points from the outside because Team New York's Moussa Kone was swatting away anything they brought to the paint. He was a force on the defensive end for Team New York, altering shots and finishing with 5 blocks for the game.
Bernardi continued to light up the Gauchos Gym especially in the clutch. He'd finish with 7 threes, the last one giving The Gauchos their largest lead of the game; 70-66. "He's a high level player" says the Gauchos coach. "He just knew it was time to step up." Jabarie Hinds would start to sizzle late as well for Team New York. His late steal, basket, and the foul, tied the game up at 70 with just over 2 minutes remaining. Then with a minute remaining, Saunders put back broke a 74-74 tie, but Jevon Thomas would answer with a layup to tie the game back up at 76. Thomas would give The Gauchos the lead for good with 13.5 seconds remaining. "He was big for us down the stretch" says Gauchos coach about Thomas. His and-one put the Gauchos up 79-78. Despite a team-high 25 points, a costly double dribble call against Saunders would seal the deal for the Gauchos win.
"We played a really good team with great players on it" says Bernardi, who finished with a game high 28 points. "I feel great [about the win]." Bernardi was named Most Outstanding Player of the Roundball Classic. The loss for Team New York comes a day after it was announced star point guard Corey Edwards committed to George Mason University. "It was a tough game" says Edwards after the loss. "Both teams played hard but unfortunately a team had to win and a team had to lose."