BRONX, NY - Two ranked New York teams faced off on Wednesday at the Tru-Ballaz Pre-HS Classic held at FDA III. In a rematch battle, Wings Academy would edge past the Deer Park Falcons at the buzzer, 47-45.
Having faced each other once before in the summer at the Ball by the Beach Tournament, Wings felt confident that they could defeat their Long Island rival once again. Deer Park saw things differently.
From the tip off it would be a defensive battle as both teams dug their heels in. Still zero-zero at the 5:40 mark, points were finally put on the scoreboard as Wings Academy struck first with transition points. Scoreless and down 6-zip with 4 minutes left in opening quarter, Deer Park head coach John McCaffrey call a timeout to steady the ship.
Senior PG Aaren Edmead had his hands full defending his point guard counterpart, Desure Buie but still managed to squeeze free for Deer Park's first bucket. Unable to find any additional offense the Falcons were forced to burn another time out as the Wings lead grew to 9-2 with 1:11 left in the warm-up quarter.
In a high energy low scoring opening quarter, Wings held on to a 6 point lead at the end of one. A trey by Buie plus an assist to Foday Sankaray followed by a turnover and another deuce punted Wings lead up to 15-3 with 6:53 left in the half.
Deer Park seemed disjointed. Continuing turnovers pushed Wings' lead to 15 as Buie put on a show. Edmead began to raise his game in the final couple of minutes, forced to become a scoring guard, cutting Deer Park's deficit to 9 to end the half.
Wings began the third quarter cushioned by a 20-11 advantage but quick scores inside Tyler Pierre and Edmead the Falcons sliced that lead to 5 with 6:28. Deer Park began to match up better offensively with their opponent and with 4:26, a basket by Angelo Riley was part of a 12-4 run that pulled the L.I. team to within 1 point, 24-23.
This time Wings Academy was the team in need of a time-out to regroup but it was too late. With 4:02, Karon Blackwell gave Deer Park their first lead. Wings countered but the momentum had clearly shifted. 2:14 remained in the third quarter and the game was tied at 29.
Buie, who was dominant in the first half, was dormant throughout most of the third but a trey by his teammate Randy Corporan gave Wings a 32-29 lead and shifted the momentum pendulum back in their direction. A trey by Buie ended the quarter with Wings up, 37-32 to begin the final stanza.
Edmead fired from three-point range right off the bat to tighten the point spread but Wings was still slightly ahead by two. Defensive intensity kept Deer Park within four points of the lead with 4:01 left to play but lapses on offense kept them from making any headway.
After another time out, Deer Park made a run and surged ahead 45-43 as Riley scored back-to-back. 1:10 remained in regulation and it was a virtual dead heat.
With 28 seconds left, a big rebound by Pierre gave Deer Park possession but a helter skelter offensive set resulted in a them coughing up the ball with 7.8 seconds remaining. Wings tied the game at 45 with 6.1 ticks but fumble by Blackwell gave the ball back to the Bronx, NY squad with 2.9 seconds.
Sankaray would nail a clutch fadeaway jumper while falling down as the clock struck zero for the win. "It was a designed play," he said after the game. "I came off a screen and hit the shot."
Sankaray led Wings with 20 points with Buie adding 13 points. Edmead was the high scorer for Deer Park with 13 points with Riley contributing 12 points.