SOUTH JAMAICA, NY - The iS8/Nike Fall Tip-Off Classic playoffs were in full swing on Saturday as six Sweet 16 games were scheduled to occur at Intermediate School 8.
No one wanted to seek their entertainment elsewhere as spectators were treated to an action-packed day saturated with hardwood heat.
Let's take a look at the first installment of three contests, where the Classic's toughest squads advanced to Quarterfinal Sunday.
Our Saviour Uses 4th Quarter Surge to put Primetime Prep Away, 62-54
Our Saviour New American (OSNA) and Primetime Prep kicked off Saturday's second-round schedule by engaging in a heavy-hitting head-to-to-head battle. Though the two squads would fight back and forth for three quarters, the final phase would determine the winner as Our Saviour New American pulled away from the competition with a 62-54 victory.
Primetime led 6-4 in the first quarter. OSNA's Nick Lewis (team-high 15 points) and Christopher Obekpa (10 points) scored on back-to-back buckets to later lift OSNA 10-6. As the teams exchanged baskets, Primetime was able to creep ahead to take a 28-25 lead at halftime.
Primetime Prep's Gio Ellis (game-high 18 points), who was very instrumental in the team's first-half grind, continued his athleticism in the third phase.
Primetime pushed its advantage up to six points, 36-30, early in the third quarter on a midrange jumper by Ellis. However, that margin would not last for long as OSNA's Lewis scored on a lay-in to the rack. Our Savior New American continued its steady pace in the next few minutes of the period, tying the contest at 40.
OSNA took a brief three-point advantage, 43-40, but Ellis sprang back into action with some buckets for a one-possession lead, 46-43, for Primetime. A bucket by Our Saviour's Lebrent Walker off of a Primetime Prep turnover cut the deficit to one point, 46-45.
The bucket by Walker in transition at the close of the third quarter sparked a OSNA run at the start of the fourth period.
OSNA staged a 7-0 surge, capped by Lewis, which resulted in a 53-46 advantage. Primetime's Ellis and teammate Adam Oyefesu (10 points) tried to generate some offense at the charity stripe, going a combined 3-of-4 from the stripe by the 3:45 mark of the fourth phase. The free throws brought the squad within four points, 53-49.
OSNA's Felix Balamou (10 points) netted a bucket to dig Primetime Prep deeper - regaining a six-point advantage for his squad, 55-49. Primetime struggled to come back in the final three minutes. In fact, in the final 2:49 of the contest, Primetime Prep was only able to chop the deficit to three points, 57-54, on a 3-pointer by Oyefesu. Meanwhile, OSNA used the remaining time to garner a margin of as much as the final score, 62-54.
Primetime Prep's Anthony Matthews had nine points in the loss.
Our Saviour New American will play Sports University (N.J.) on Sunday, Oct. 16, in the iS8/Nike Quarterfinal at Intermediate School 8 (South Jamaica, N.Y.). Tip-off is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.
Ben Gordon All-Stars Easily Ground Shooting Stars, 82-60
In one of the few contests of the day that contained a margin of blowout proportions, Ben Gordon All-Stars (Mount Vernon High School) took down a usually strong Shooting Stars quickly. The game that seemed over before it began ended with a 22-point margin between the squads, 82-60.
Ben Gordon shot off to an unbelievable 15-0 start in the opening minutes of the first quarter.
Ben Gordon's Isaiah Cousins (game-high 27 points, 15 in the first half, 11 in the first quarter) and Jarrel Marshall (18 points, 16 in the first half, 14 in the first quarter) were like lit pieces of dynamite. The explosive duo's offensive momentum seemed unstoppable to the Shooting Stars' defense and the fluidity of their offensive production was hard to match by Shooting Stars' usual scorers.
Although some people say that scores are not always indicative to what happened in a game, the warm-up phase's final score of 35-7 said it all for what type of quarter it was and what kind of game it was going to be.
With the help of Shooting Stars' Jaquan Brown (15 points, 10 in the second quarter), the squad staged a 14-4 run in the second phase. Shooting Stars' spurt brought the team within 18 points, 39-21.
On a 3-pointer by Ben Gordon's Randy Stephens (nine points), the squad from Mount Vernon, N.Y. brought its advantage back to the twenties, 44-23.
Shooting Stars trailed 46-29 at halftime.
In the third quarter, with the continual grinding of Cousins, Ben Gordon All-Stars increased its point margin to as much as 24 points, 62-38. Though that differential was repeated once more in the final minutes of the tertiary period - when the score was 65-41 on the completion of a conventional three-point play by Cousins - Shooting Stars was not done.
Shooting Stars slashed the deficit to as low as 15 points, 65-50, on a basket by Elisha Boone (14 points) midway through the fourth period. However, with Ben Gordon's power dial turned all the way up, there was no stopping them.
Ben Gordon All-Stars (Mount Vernon H.S.) will play Juice All-Stars on Sunday, Oct. 16, in the iS8/Nike Quarterfinal at Intermediate School 8 (South Jamaica, N.Y.). Tip-off is scheduled for 10:15 a.m.
Sports University Trounces Positive Direction, 71-52
In yet another contest where the losing opponent was trounced and bounced from the second round of the playoffs, Sports University (N.J.) seemed to dismantle Positive Direction quarter by quarter. Ultimately, the New Jersey team defeated its New York competition 71-52.
The first quarter started off with Sports U. and Positive Direction going toe-to-toe, fighting between ties and one-possession leads. But, the tide quickly turned, as Sports U's Quenton DeCosey (game-high 21 points, 13 in the first half) lit up the hardwood with acrobatic lay-ups and dunks. DeCosey's strength, energy and athleticism when attacking the rim was hard to contain without fouling. As a result, he propelled his squad to a 13-point lead, 32-19, by the 1:45 mark of the second quarter.
On the defensive end, Sports U. received much help from Spencer Weisz (10 points), who put in second and third efforts in rebounding and chasing down 50/50 balls to gain opportunities for his teammates.
Positive Direction was able to bring the score only as close as 11 points, 36-25, on a 2-of-2 performance at the foul line by Positive Direction's Ivan Nelson (six points) by halftime.
In the second half, Positive Direction's George Davis (team-high 19 points) tried to create a momentum shift by driving to the middle for some assists or buckets. However, even with his attempts at patching things, the damage was already done because Positive Direction was plagued with turnover woes.
Sports U. just continued a flurry of offense precipitated from its many scoring options on the floor. That, coupled with its intense defensive pressure, made the deficit widen in the fourth quarter to as much as 21 points, 68-47.