June 14, 2008

Crumble in the Bronx

In a stunner, the stacked Raising Champions 17U, a team coached by Lance Stephenson Sr. would kick off their pool play in the Rumble in the Bronx against the Central Jersey Hawks.

After amassing a 21 point lead, Raising Champions would crumble in the final minutes, ultimately losing by 2 points

The CJ Hawks opened up with a 9-0 run until Reynaldo Dixon scored a three ball for the Raising Champions.

Lance Stephenson, the 6'6" junior phenom from Lincoln High School scored a bank shot and one followed by a steal and a lay up and suddenly the Raising Champions were within 1point

An alley-oop dunk by Karron Johnson would put the Champions up by one point. It seemed as if the tide had turned because the Raising Champions were bigger, faster and stronger than the CJ Hawks it appeared as if the Jersey team would never see the lead again as the Champions would go on a 16-2 run.

With 5:26 seconds left in the half the CJ Hawks would be down by 7 points, Max Kelly, a 6'1" junior played an aggressive game on both offense and defense.

Solid defense by would hold the Hawks at bay and explosive moves by Stephenson in the last minutes of the half gave the Champions an 11point lead at the end of the first half.

Three minutes into the second half the Raising Champions were up by 15 points as Stephenson displayed his full arsenal of scoring and passing.

Dijon Manns seem to score more blocks than the CJ Hawks had points as the Champions lead grew with only 6'4" Matt Devine and 6'7" Sean McPaul scoring occasionally for the Hawks.

With 5 minutes left in the game the Champions lead was 21points but suddenly their defense collapsed and with 39 seconds the Central Jersey Hawks pulled to within 3points.

With 25 seconds left 6'2" guard Kenny Reid would tie the score at 64.

As the seconds ticked, Stephenson would go one-on-one against 5'8" Matt Pilliari, get fouled in the act of shooting with 5 seconds left with the opportunity to take the lead..

Stephenson would miss the first free throw and CJ Hawks coach Walter Brickowski would call a time out.

Stephenson uncharacteristically miss the second free throw. Karron Johnson would compound the landslide by fouling Reid on the subsequent rebound with only two seconds left.

Kenny Reid would calmly nail the both free throws giving the Hawks their first lead since the 9-0 run in the beginning of the game but as the buzzer sounded that two point lead was enough as the CJ Hawks would win in an upset, 66-64.

Matt Devine scored a game high 25 points for the CJ Hawks. Stephenson ended the game with a team high 12 points for the Raising Champions.

Ironically, the Raising Champions 16U team would defeat CBA by the score of 58-57 off of a buzzer beater.

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