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    In the Midget game between the Future Stars and Dyckman, the Future Stars came out inspired taking a 24-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. But in the second quarter Dyckman began to comeback behind Kenny Widgeon. Dyckman outscored the Future Stars 17-5 to close the gap to 29-21, at the half. But the second half was all Future Stars as they would go on to win 62-44. This was the first time they had their whole team, and they looked like a team that could contend for the title, but the Gauchos will be a tough game for them. 5'6 SG Geoff Rizk scored 21 to lead the Future Stars while 6'4 C Brian Henry added 17. Dyckman was led by 6'1 PF Kenny Widgeon who scored 13. In the other Midget game, SONDAY earned a forfeit victory over the Gauchos B because they are currently away at camp. So they advance to play Riverside in the semis on Saturday, which should be a classic game. 
    The Junior game between SONDAY and the Brooklyn Bridge was a classic. The first half belonged to 6'6 SF Karron Clark. Karron was doing it all, hitting 3's taking it to the basket, getting put backs, and was even setting up the half court offense. But early on in the second quarter the game looked like it was going to be a blowout in SONDAY's favor as they held a 28-15 lead. But then 5'9 PG Japhet McNeil picked up his 3rd foul and that opened the door for the Bridge. At one point in the second quarter Karron Clark and Ramel Bradley had scored 32 of the team's 34 points. At the half the Bridge led 41-38. The start of the second half saw Japhet return to the game, and that saw SONDAY regain the lead. The game was close throughout the second half. But with about 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter Ramel Bradley fouled out, leaving the Bridge with only 4 players. At the time the score was 72-67 in favor of SONDAY. Somehow the Bridge would manage to score 4 points in a row to close the gap to 1 point, but that would be as close as they would get. The final score of the game was 82-73. The final margin of victory did not do this game justice. This game lived up to what I expected with, Sean Banks and Karron Clark going at it and Ramel Bradley and Daon Merritt going at it. Sean took over in the 4th quarter scoring about half of his 32 in the quarter. Karron put up 29, as he cooled off a bit in the second half. Daon, who scored 14 in the first half ended with 19 and Ramel also scored 19, and at one point in the second quarter looked like he couldn't miss. SONDAY, advances to play the Future Stars in Saturday's semifinals. This may be the best game of the day, as the Future Stars size will go against SONDAY's wing players. But both teams  are very good at each position. In my opinion the winner of this game will win the championship. In the other Junior semifinal game, the Gauchos A will take on Riverside A, in a rematch of last year's semifinal game. Gauchos A won easily over Holy Cross last night. 

In a Biddy playoff game Riverside met the Gauchos. For some reason the Gauchos only had 6 people at the game. Early on the teams were going back and forth with the game being pretty close, 23-17 in Riverside's favor. But then Riverside went on a huge 22-0 nothing which ended any hope of the Choz advancing any further. The final score of the game was 59-42. The star of the game for Riverside was 5'7 SG Marcus Matthews. At only 12 years old he is already one of those players that when you leave open you can basically count it. He also finishes with defense on him efficiently. He will be a star in the basketball world, if he continues to improve. Riverside advanced to play the Lightning in Saturday's semifinal. In the other Biddy game, the Bronx Kings beat Next Generation, to advance against SONDAY Express in the semifinals. In the Senior division, S.E.B.N.C. earned a forfeit victory over Minus All-Stars. They advance to play SONDAY Express. In the other playoff game, LPAC took on Convent Baptist. I didn't see the game because I was on the other side, playing ball myself, but Convent Baptist came up with a surprising 63-61 victory. Once again Sammy Mejia wasn't there, and from what I hear Moses Gonzalez got into a verbal exchange with his coach. Convent advances to play against Riverside in the semis. 

On Saturday the Bronx Kings played the Gauchos A, in both the midget and the junior division. Both games had something happen that I had never seen before. In the junior game, the Gauchos only had 5 people. Early on the Bronx Kings had the game in control but, in the 4th quarter the Choz made a surge. Right when it seemed the Gauchos were going to come all the way back, one of their players fouled, so they were down to 4 players. Then moments later another player fouled out so they were down to 3. Then another player fouled out and they were down to 2 players. At this point they only trailed by 2 points. But when the Gauchos got the ball there was little they could do as all 5 Bronx King players were on Jabari Samuels and there was no way Chris Altieri could get the ball to him. In the end the Bronx Kings won 66-62. In the midget game between the two the Gauchos seemed as if they were going to blow the Bronx Kings away. But at halftime 1 of their 5 players had to leave so they were down to 4 on 5. After one of the Gaucho players got low bridged on a dunk attempt without a call from the officials, then the Gauchos failed on an alley-oop attempt off of the backboard the coach had seen enough and pulled his team off the court, and took the forfeit. In the marquee game of the day Next Level took on the Monroe Shockers in the College division. For the most part this game was controlled by the Shockers. They led by double digits almost the entire game. There were points in the game when Kingsley "Bulla" Edwards, would get Next Level in single digits, but he didn't have any help on this day. He finished with a game high 34 points, and set what I believe is the single season scoring record at UDC, as he averaged over 36 points per game. But he will not be present at Next Level's playoff game on Saturday nor will he be there on Sunday if they make the championship because he will be leaving to Butler Community on Saturday. For the Shockers, LaShard Duren led a balanced attack with 15 points while Ade Edwards added 13.  In a Senior game which was rescheduled, S.O.N.D.A.Y. Express took on LPAC. Both teams came in to this game undefeated, so this was a battle for first place. LPAC ended up playing most of the game with 4 players because Danny Mena sprained his ankle early in the 1st quarter. But surprisingly they were able to hang tough despite missing Sammy Mejia. The reason was 5'11 PG Ed Berrios who poured in 28 points. Of course Moses Gonzalez got his numbers as he put up 32.. On the other side Rashad Bell scored a game high 33 points while Deshawn Warren scored 23. The final score of the game was 93-82 in SONDAY's favor. Both benches were talking trash to each other, LPAC was gloating about hanging in the game with only 4 players, while SONDAY was saying it didn't matter if the had Sammy or not. But here is what everyone should take into consideration, Ed Berrios scored 28, he hadn't scored double digits in any other game this season, and all of those games were when Sammy was there. So if these two teams happen to meet in the championship expect Berrios to score about 7 points while Sammy scores his usual 20-25 which would end up not changing LPAC's final point total too much.
    On Sunday the marquee game was in the Junior division with SONDAY Express taking on the Gauchos B. But what was supposed to be matchup of Yata Gaines and Russell Robinson vs. Daon Merritt and Sean Banks, turned into Malcolm Jones and Will Harris vs. Daon Merritt and Japhet McNeil. The reason for this was Russell broke his hand at the Adidas Big Time, and Yata and Sean were non-factors scoring 8 and 10 points respectively. The first quarter of the game belonged to Japhet McNeil, as he poured in 14 points and hit 4 3's. But he was very quiet after that, scoring 7 points the rest of the way. Through the second and 3rd quarters Daon Merritt would keep his team in it. Late in the 4th quarter the Gauchos were trailing by 1 with Malcolm Jones at the line shooting 2. He missed the first but made the second to tie the game up. Just as quick as he became the hero he became the goat. First he forced two bad shots the missed, then he was called for an intentional foul which put McNeil on the line shooting 2 with 3 seconds left and the game tied. He made one of the two which pretty much ended the game since SONDAY got the ball back. The final score was 55-54. Japhet McNeil scored 21, Daon Merritt added 16. On the Gaucho side Malcolm Jones scored 14 and Will Harris added 13. In another big Junior game the Gauchos A team took on the Brooklyn Bridge. I expected the Bridge would win easily but 6'2 combo guard Chris Bernard who was missing the day before, lit the Bridge up for 29 points. It could've been more but he missed 5 free throws. The Choz were never really challenged in this one and won by the score of 75-61. Dominick Osei led they way for the Bridge with 17 while Ramel Bradley scored 12 all in the second half.
Playoff Matchups:




W2Bronx Kings vs.  E3Next Generation E2S.E.B.N.C    vs. W3Minus
E2Riverside      vs.  W3Gauchos W2LPAC           vs.  E3Convent Baptist

In a key game in the College division Riverside Church took on the Monroe Shockers. Riverside controlled the game pretty much all of the way, behind Nick Delfico (21 points), Kyle Cuffe and Danny Bovain who each scored 16. The Shockers were led by LaShard Duren who scored 16. In the second half Riverside led by double digits for most of the half, but the Shockers made a run to get it down to 6 but could never come closer. The final score of the game was 83-75. In the Junior division the Riverside Future Stars met up with the Bronx Kings. The Future Stars were playing with only 5 people because most of the team was at Citywide in the 15u championship. As for the game the Future Stars led early on and looked like 5 would be enough to win but the Bronx Kings would come back behind Garfield Johns who scored 16 to win 52-44. Ariel Rodriguez was the high scorer for the game with 17. SONDAY Express juniors played two games on Sunday winning them both. The first game they took on the Wildcats, the game ended up being a no contest as SONDAY won by 33. Sean Banks led the way with 23 and Daon Merritt added 22. In their other game they took on Holy Cross. Holy Cross was not going to give this one to SONDAY. At one point in the second quarter it looked like there was nobody in the park that could guard Holy Cross's Carl Brown who scored 9 out of 11 points in one stretch to keep them in it. On the SONDAY side of things it was Daon Merritt who dominated the whole game. He finished with 33 and seemed anytime he wanted to score he did. However early in the 3rd quarter Holy Cross was able to gain a 6 point lead and looked like they were headed to an upset victory. But then Merritt and Japhet McNeil would answer back and would help SONDAY pull away and win 86-73. McNeil finished with 19 while Sean Banks scored 17. For Holy Cross, Brown, Anthony Lawrence and Dominick Cuzzi all scored 18. In the Senior division SONDAY took on the Gauchos, and as usual the Gauchos only had 5 people. If their whole team would ever come they would be 1 of the 3 best teams in the division. But they got 3 of their 4 best players, Carl Elliot, Shaun Wynn and Levi Levine. SONDAY had Rashad Bell, George Jefferson and Deshawn Warren. This game would go to overtime. With under 5 seconds left Warren was at the line shooting two trailing by 1. He calmly hit both of them to give his team an 86-85 victory. Bell led all scorers with 33, 22 of which came in the first half. Levi Levine led the Choz with 23 and Elliot added 21. In a Junior game the Brooklyn Bridge took on the C.A.S. Warriors. This game was surprisingly close in the first half with the Bridge leading by only 2. But then defense and pure talent would take over, with Ramel Bradley and Karron Clarke dominating the game. Bradley finished with 29 and Clarke scored 21. Ramel put on a dribbling exhibition in the 4th quarter, while Clarke tried to dunk on everyone in his way. James Dorismond scored 24 in the losing effort for the Warriors.

The day at UDC got off to a great start with the Washington Heights Warriors taking on For the Good of the Neighborhood. This game was the Bram Nivar show. He scored the Warriors first 15 points and nobody else had a field goal until he had 18 points. This was a close game throughout with the Warriors up by 1 and with 13 seconds left Milan Prodanovic got the ball in the backcourt, but the pressure defense by Nivar would force a turnover. The Warriors would get another free throw to put the lead up to 1. Once again Prodanovic would get the ball this time he got off a shot from the baseline but he could get it to drop and his team lost 53-51. Nivar finished with what I believe is the Midget season high so far with 36, he did it every way possible, 3 pointers, lay-ups, And 1's and getting steals. On the For the Good of the Neighborhood  side Joe Catatore scored 15 while Prodanovic scored 12. In a Senior division game Minus took on COA. The game got off to a good start with the scored tied at 20 at the end of the 1st quarter, but that's when the blowout began. COA led by Elton Barry who poured in 30 would end up cruising by Minus 84-63. Keywan Gardner led the way for Minus with 18. 
    In what is always the biggest game of the day up at UDC as far as the number of people in the crowd, Next Level took on Lehman. This was never much of a game. At one point in the second half Next Level led by 30, and would stop playing defense after that and would end up winning 111-98. For the first time this year Kingsley "Bulla" Edwards did not lead Next Level in scoring although he did pump in 36, Bo Washington scored 37 and a number of dunks and put backs. In the last game of the day SONDAY Express dominated Mt. Vernon in the Midget division by a score of 75-41. There was another great performance by a kid in the Midget division as Chris Martin scored 27 and didn't miss anymore then 3 shots the whole game. SONDAY may be the best team in the Midget division despite Saturday's loss to the Gauchos.

    Since I never got a chance to make a report on Sunday's games at UDC, here is some of the things that went down. Domonic Lewis let me know that he is headed to Bronx Regional next year, and will not be returning to Kennedy. I got the chance to see Dwayne Johnson play for the first time since December when his Cardozo team took on Columbus, and I realized he isn't as good as I thought. He had about 7 points and his team lost by 33 to the Church. He isn't even the best player on his team, Victor Morris is much better then him, and he will be ranked when I update the rankings. Also a kid by the name of Moses Gonzalez 6'2 SG has been dominating the senior division. Coming into the weekend he was averaging 25 points a game. And in his two games this weekend he scored 32 and 27. I believe he will be attending LIU Brooklyn this year. He is very athletic and can knock down the outside J with consistency, he should help the LIU team a lot. 
Here are some of the things that happened at UDC today. Russell Robinson showed up for the Gauchos B team in the Junior division and scored 35, and it wasn't even the high on his team. Yata Gaines decided to drop 42, while Brian Laing put in 19. The final score of their game was 105-40 over Wake-Eden. Kingsley "Bulla" Edwards continued to drop buckets as he put up 38, which is right at his 37.7 average before today's game. But Next Level could not beat the Church as Kyle Cuffe scored 30 and Nick Delfico added 24. I also found out today from the Gauchos coach Mark Jones that Ronald Ramon will not be away for the rest of the summer and he will be this weekend. But he will not play at UDC, but is going to Vegas for the Big Time with the Gauchos.

    In the best game of the day the Gauchos took on the C.A.S. Warriors (Washington Heights) in a Senior division game. Donnie McGrath came out hot as he hit his first 2 three's to give the Gauchos a 6-2 lead early in the first quarter. The Warriors would never go away because of Rob White, who played a great game scoring 29 points. In the 4th quarter the Warriors went on a run to take an 8 point lead, but the Choz behind McGrath and Levi Levine were able to come back. The lead was 77-76 when Idiongo Okurro was fouled and sent to the line with 3 seconds left with the chance to give the Warriors a 3 point lead. But he missed them both and gave the Choz an opportunity to win the game. Unfortunately for the Gauchos McGrath could never get a shot off and time would expire sending them to their second loss in as many days. In another Gaucho game the B team took on the Holy Cross Panthers in a Junior division game. This was the Yata Gaines show in the first quarter as he got to the basket at will and was fouled or just scored the 2 himself. He was so dominant he only needed to take 3 jump shots 2 of which he made, 1 a 3 and the other a free throw line fall away. He finished the first half with 22 points, and his team led 44-29. Then Holy Cross would begin its comeback they scored the first 5 points in 30 seconds bringing the gap to 10. Holy Cross was able to take the lead late in the 4th quarter. But then Yata would take over again as he hit 3 free throws to tie the game up. Despite not making a field goal the entire second half Yata still managed to score 10 points in the half, because he was being fouled every time he took it to the rack. He was 10-14 from the line in the second half alone. Holy Cross trailed by 1 late in the game when Malcolm Jones stole a pass and took it all the way to ice it. The final score of the game would by 71-68. In another Junior Division game the Wildcats defeated the Renaissance Warriors 54-51 behind 17 from Howie Raymond and 13 from Domonic Lewis.
Saturday was Gaucho day at UDC as they played in 6 of the games and 3 of them were against Riverside, In those games they were 1-2. The first game they lost to Riverside was in the Midget division as the Gaucho B team took an L to Riverside's A team. The Church was missing big man Brandon Brock, but were still able to get the win. The other loss for the Choz against the Church was in the Junior division. Where the Future Stars beat the Gauchos A team 55-42. AJ Price had his usual solid game with 16. Once again the Church was missing a key player this time it was Tyrell Biggs. In the final Gaucho vs. Riverside game, It matched up the Gaucho B team and Riverside's A team in the Junior division. The B team is the team with the trio, Russell Robinson, Yata Gaines and Ronald Ramon. For this game Yata was the only there, as Ronald is away for the rest of the summer visiting his mother, and I think Russell was at the Metro Classic with Rice. Brandon Wilson fresh off his ABCD appearance stole the show early on as he scored 14 points in the first quarter to give Riverside a 20-13 lead at the end of 1. But then he disappeared as he could only score 8 points the rest of the game. From the second quarter on it was Yata's turn to dominate. He was just unguardable as he just got to the basket at will. He finished the game with at least 30 points in leading his team to a 74-57 victory. Will Harris played well for the Choz as he scored 19. In the Senior division on Saturday the Gauchos took on LPAC. If you just look at names you would think the Gauchos would win by 30, but that was not the case, as the Choz only had 6 people and were in a real close game. LPAC has a pretty good lineup with Sammy Mejia, Ed Berrios, Khalfarni Hyde and high jumping Moses Gonzalez. At the end of the first half the Gauchos led 34-32. But to start the second half LPAC scored 18 straight points to take a 16 point lead. But then the Gauchos would score 11 points in the final 1:02 to get the game in striking distance. The Gauchos would make another surge in the 4th quarter after falling back down to 11, behind Carl Elliot. Elliot finished the game with 18 and brought the Choz to within 3 at 75-72. But then he fouled out, which left the Choz with only 4 players because another player had also fouled out. This pretty much sealed the game as LPAC won 78-72. Gonzalez had a great game as he scored 30 with 29 coming after the 1st quarter. Mejia added 24. Even though I didn't see the College division game involving Next Level I heard their star Kingsley "Bulla" Edwards lit it up scoring 45 points, that was his second straight 40+ point performance. Butler University got a steal by getting this kid. He will be a player that will be able to bring them into the tournament and help them pull of an upset or two. 

There were a lot of Riverside games this weekend. In their easiest game the Midget team won 48-20 over For the Good of the Neighborhood and led 15 to nothing after the first quarter, despite playing with only 5 people the entire game. Tasco Brown scored 13 and Codi Oliver added 12. For the Good of the Neighborhood got 65% of their offense from Milan Prodanovic who scored 13 in the game. In the Senior division Riverside also pitched a shutout for 1 quarter as they led 18-0 at the end of 1 against Spring Valley, and went on to win 72-52. Mike Beal scored 18 to lead the way for the Church, Jason Wingate scored 13 and Wendell Gibson scored 10 despite not getting to the game until the second half. For Spring Valley Keith Williams scored 19 and had the highlight of the tournament so far when he dunked on a riverside player very hard, and drew the foul. In what was a good game Riverside held on for a tough 8 point victory against the Holy Cross Panthers. This game was very close throughout, but the play from the point form Keydren "Kiki" Clark was the difference. As he scored 21 points and ran the offense brilliantly, setting up Billy Gilbert for much of his 15 points. On the Holy Cross side Greg Campbell led the way with 11. 
On Sunday Riverside tasted something I hadn't seen them taste at UDC yet, and that was a loss. As the Future Stars lost to a very good SONDAY Express team. In a Junior contest SONDAY and Riverside met again. The game was dominated by Daon Merritt who scored 32 of his teams 55 points in the game. But it was not enough as the Church was able to win the game behind solid play from big men James Barrett and Aaron Harvey. SONDAY's day was not over as the senior team took on Minus, and this was never really much of a game as SONDAY just dominated behind 29 points from Deshawn Warren who scored 23 of his points in the first half George Jefferson added 17 for SONDAY. The game was stopped after neither team was playing hard because of the slight drizzle and the score. The final score of the game was 75-50.
The College division game between Next Level and the Gauchos saw the best individual performance of the tournament so far, as Kingsley "Bulla" Edwards scored 42 points in his teams 97-94 victory. The Gauchos who trailed by as much as 20 used  a barrage of 3's to get back into it but it wasn't enough as they fell just short. In a make-up game The Brooklyn Bridge took on Above & Beyond in a Junior division battle. The Bridge took an early double digit lead and never were really threatened after that but they could never extend the lead either. Mitchell Beauford led all scorers with 19. Gary Forbes and Stewart Graddick each scored 13 for the Bridge. On the other side Brian O'neel scored 17 in the loss.

In a midget game the Riverside Church pounded the Renaissance Warriors 78-29. The score at one point was 26-19, the Church then went on a 14-0 run to basically end the game. Riverside had a balanced scoring attack led by Brandon Brock and Keith Benjamin who each scored 14. Rory Hicks added 12 for the Church. Eric Bush played well for Renaissance.
In the first Junior game of the day Riverside beat the Wildcats 82-64. This game was close for most of the first half, but then Riverside pulled away for another easy victory. Kojo Mensah led the way with 17 while James Barrett scored 16. Dominic Lewis led all scorers with 23 in the loss.
The other Junior game saw the Riverside Future Stars take on the Brooklyn Bridge. This game turned into another blowout with the Future Stars winning 70-48. The Church had a balanced attack led by Tyrell Biggs with 15. Wesley Matthews scored 13, Josh Cohen had 12 and AJ Price added 10. For the Bridge Mitchell Beauford scored 19 but took a lot of shots to get those points. The Bridge was playing without possibly their two best players Ramel Bradley and Karron Clark. 
In the Senior division the Riverside Church blew out For the Good of the Neighborhood (formerly LI Panthers) by a score of 76-52. Jomo Belfor played great for the Church as he scored 22.
In the only College division game of the day Riverside got another easy victory with a 83-63 win over the Lehman Lightning. Carl Lee dominated inside for the Church as he scored 27. Dyree Wilson added 15 for the Church in the win. 
Other Scores:
Midgets- Dyckman 53 vs. For the Good of the Neighborhood 39
Juniors- Gauchos 61 vs. Sun Devils 43
Seniors- Washington Heights Warriors 77 vs. East Orange 50
Seniors- Brooklyn Beasts 74 vs. NJ Jammers 67

Rumble in the Bronx Game Re-Caps and Player Evaluations.

Brooklyn Bridge Challenge
   The first game of the Challenge looked like a blowout if you just looked at the team names, the Brooklyn Beasts and the Long Island Panthers. The Beasts didn't have a bad line up with Roscoe Biggers, Quincy Douby, Norman Simmons and John Baiano. The Panthers only had six players and were missing Gary Ervin, Charlie Villanueva and Lenny Cooke. Early on the Panthers were putting on a dunking exhibition as Jason Fraser and Curtis Sumpter caught alley-oop after alley-oop from Kendell Provet. The Beasts were able to hang tough. Sumpter had a great game for the Panthers and helped them hold on in a close game. Provet got the better of his ex-teammate Biggers. He showed the ability to knock down the open 3 and as usual break down the defense and hand off pretty dimes. Provet will be at ABCD and if he plays his best he will open the eyes of many college coaches.
    The second game saw the Brooklyn Bridge take on the Riverside Church. The Bridge had Chris Taft, Gary Ervin, Sebastian Telfair, Karron Clark, Ramel Bradley, Mitchell Beauford and Kenny Eusey. The Church had the regular 17u team plus Tyquawn Goode. The Church dominated the first quarter leading 27-12 at the end of 8 minutes behind great shooting from Ricky Soliver. But they could never expand because of the shooting of Sebastian Telfair and the penetration of Gary Ervin. At the same time the Bridge could never really get close. With about 3 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter the Bridge made a run behind Telfair's shooting and closed the lead to 73-67, with Beauford at the line shooting 2. Beauford missed both shots and that closed the door on any Bridge chance to win the game. The two best players for the Church were Soliver and Jason Wingate who is once again looking like the player that many people thought was one of the 2 best players coming out of 8th grade. He is looking for his shot  but at the same time being unselfish. After watching this game I realized that Telfair shoots too much to be a point guard, instead I think he is a shooting guard. He is very similar to Allen Iverson, in that he can make the pin point pass but is much more comfortable scoring. If you watch Telfair closely you see that he gets off shots that 99% of high school players can not get off, and this is why I think he will be a pro one day.

IS8 Championship
Riverside vs. S.O.N.D.A.Y. Express
    The championship of IS8 was between two teams that many thought would meet in the championship, the Riverside Church and SONDAY Express. Express came out hot, opening a quick 12-0 lead behind 5 points from Japhet McNeil. The lead would balloon to 18-2 but
that's when the Church realized it was Sunday. The Church led by Ted Munford went on a 10-0 run to close the lead to 18-12. Munford had 5 points and an assist in the run. Express led 20-12 after 1. The Church would close the lead to 23-19, but 2 3's by Marlon Smith coupled with a Riverside bucket would make it a 29-21 game. Once again the Church had an answer, as the ended the half with a 14-1 run. A Wendell Gibson basket gave them their first lead and a Tyquawn Goode lay-up would give the Church a 4 point lead at the break. Express would come out of the locker room the same way they started the game and were able to take a 40-37 lead. Behind Rob Barrett and Rashad Bell Express was able to take an 8 point lead into the 4th. The Church could never make a legit run at Express in the 4th. Their best chance was when they were trailing by 7 at 59-52 with the ball. but they came up empty, and Express would cruise from there, and win 78-66.  Japhet McNeil had an excellent game for Express as he scored 13 points and handed out 9 assists. Barrett was named the game's MVP with his 16 point 10 rebound performance, while Wendell Gibson earned the Sportsmanship award, both of them were named to the All-Tournament first team. Joining them on the first team was Julius Hodge (who could not make today's game), Sebastian Telfair and Sammy Mejia. As expected Lenny Cooke was named the Player of the Year. Rookie of the Year honors went to Yata Gaines, who also played very well for Express.

Brooklyn USA Challenge
    In this year's addition of the Brooklyn USA Challenge, Brooklyn USA took on the Tim Thomas Playaz. The 7th grade game was a very competitive game which saw Brooklyn USA win the game by a score of 48-42. Willie Etheridge led the way for USA with 17 points, Micheal Shine added 9 for the winners. Nijeer Park scored just 4 points for Tim Thomas but he was clearly their best player as he opened up shots for his teammates. Lamar Pannell led the Playaz with 13. The 8th grade game was never close, with USA leading by 8 after one, winning the game 57-31. Superstar 8th grader Saiqoun Stone led the way with 14 points and showed off some nice point guard skills, with a nice handle and some pretty dimes. Derek Echols scored 11 for USA. Nayan Boateng showed a lot of skills despite only scoring 4 points. He is a great athlete and can knock down the mid range jumpshot.Victor Cruz scored 10 in the losing effort for Tim Thomas.
    The 9th grade game was another start to finish blowout with USA leading by 9 after 1 would win by 21. They were led by 12 from Carlos Collazo, all of his 12 came in the second half. Terrance Jackson scored 11, Terrance Portis scored 10 all of which came in the first half and Robert Thomas also scored 10. Tim Thomas was led by Andew Pusar's 17. The 10th grade game ended up being Tim Thomas's 10th graders against Brooklyn USA's 9th graders, because USA's 10th graders were still at the Island Garden for the AAU regionals. This game was completely dominated by Tim Thomas as expected. They won the game by 30 behind 22 points a piece from Sean Banks and Jamal Warren. Ava Bowey added 19 for the Playaz. The Playaz pretty much had a dunk contest in this game as they seemed to be on the break on every play. Carlos Collazo once again led the way for USA with his 15 points, but it wasn't nearly enough.
    The main event of the day was the 11th grade game. One of the key participants was a no show, Sebastian Telfair. This game was close throughout with Tim Thomas holding a slim 37-34 lead at the break, behind 11 points from Jamar Nutter. Quincy Douby matched that with 11 for the kids from Brooklyn. USA used a big 3rd quarter to take a 5 point lead into the 4th. USA would bring the lead up to 65-54 on a Chris Taft dunk. That's when Dwayne Lee cought fire hitting 3 consecutive 3's to bring Tim Thomas within 2 at 65-63. But Tim Thomas could never get into the lead and fell 71-65. Lee scored the Playaz last 11 points but could only manage 1 point before then. Elijah Ingram was held in check and could only score 14. In the match up between Chris Taft and Darryl Watkins, it turned to be no real match up as Taft dominated scoring 17 points and pulling down 9 boards while Watkins only scored 3 points and grabbed a handful of rebounds. Quincy Douby led all scorers with 21 including 3 3's. Gary Ervin scored 11 but turned the ball over about 7 or 8 times. Duke recruit Lee Melchioni didn't look like Duke material as he was held to just 5 points. I would like to congratulate the Brooklyn USA staff for running an excellent event, and I will be in attendance every year it is run.

    In a much anticipated game the LI Panthers, the defending Spring IS8 champions met SONDAY Express, who featured the two leading scorers in the CHSAA, Rashad Bell and Julius Hodge. The Panthers jumped out early in this game leading 10-4 using pressure defense and a quick start from Charlie Villanueva who ended with 18. But the lead would not last due to hot shooting early on from Julius Hodge. Express led by 4 after one quarter. The game would stay close through most of the second quarter with Express leading by 2 until they went on a 7-0 run to end the half, which was capped off by a 3 at the buzzer from Rob Barrett. The lead would not grow for the whole 3rd quarter but the 4th quarter was all Express. Rashad Bell took over in the 4th as Express would dominate the quarter and win 87-66. Barrett despite being undersized against the much taller Panthers was able to dominate the boards. Fittingly Barrett ended the game with an offensive rebound and put back dunk at the buzzer. Next up for Express is the Wolfpack with Lenny Cooke who dropped in 45 today against Rebel. The Panthers are in need of at least one more guard or they will struggle in the summer. If Gary Ervin doesn't play good they will lose often, just like today.
    In another anticipated game Tim Thomas took on the Church. This wasn't the same Tim Thomas team that played in the regular season, they brought in the Roundball Classic MVP John Allen for the playoffs. In turned out they didn't even need him. The Church barely even went out with a whimper. This game was never really close as the jumpers were just not dropping for Riverside. And as usual the jumpers from Elijah Ingram were dropping, as he lit them up for 31 on 11-13 shooting including 9-11 from 3. In the 4th quarter someone in the crowd said something like he can't go to the basket, so Elijah decided to take his man off the dribble hit back to back finger rolls. After the second one he stopped and gave a stare over to the person who said that. As for Allen he put up about 20, and didn't even work hard. Ingram looked the best out of the players I saw today, and that includes Julius Hodge (New York State Mr. Basketball, McDonald's All-American), Rashad Bell (CHSAA leading scorer), Jason Fraser (Daily News 1st team) and John Allen (Roundball Classic MVP). Right now Ingram is ranked around the 20 range, but after ABCD camp I expect he will move up into the top 10. Elijah Ingram and the rest of Tim Thomas organization will be playing against Brooklyn USA in the 3rd Annual Brooklyn USA Challenge next Saturday. I will have more details later in the week.

I started the day off at IS8, I saw the 4th quarter of the Gauchos (B) vs. Hoop St. Gang game. This was a blowout as the Choz won by 24. In the second the Tim Thomas Playaz took on the Renaissance Warriors. I was hoping that Elijah Ingram would play in this game but his ankle wasn't in good enough shape for him to play. Also Renaissance were without their star player Sammy Mejia, because he missed practice. As for the game it was another blowout with the Playaz winning by about 20. But Renaissance did make a run to close the gap to 8, before the Playaz scored 11 straight points to put it out of reach. Tim Thomas was lead by Dwayne Lee's 20 and Shawn Banks' 18. Jose Cabreja led the way for Renaissance with 26.
    The 3rd game of the day matched up Nate Blue's Real Scout team against the New Jersey Jaguars. Real Scout had just 5 players, Leon Fuller, Lou Rodriguez, Rashawn Vaughn, Lashard Duren and Curtis Stinson. That would play a huge role in this game as they were just being out hustled. Near the end of the game Real Scout was trailing by 11 when big man Leon Fuller fouled out. This only made them better as it opened the floor and made them a quicker team. Stinson would score 7 straight points to close the lead to 4 and give him 36 to end the game. With about 10 seconds left Rodriguez stole the ball and was fouled as he hit the lay-up sending him to the line leading by 1. He made the free throw which capped off a streak of 8 straight points for him. Mike Wasilenko got the ball and dribbled up court, he pulled from a step behind the free throw line and as soon he released it I said "that's good" and it was, touching nothing but net leaving Real Scout with just 2 seconds left. They didn't get a good look and now Nate will go from making the championship game in the Fall to not even making the playoffs.
    The 1st half of the last game was one of the best half's of basketball I have ever seen regardless of level. Tim Thomas had their star, Elijah Ingram ready to do work, but on the other side for FYA Woody Souffrant was just as ready. Woody and Ingram came out hot, Woody scored 14 in the first quarter while Ingram scored 12, all on 3's and he only missed one. Ingram still bothered by his ankle didn't really drive to the basket but when your jump shot is as good as his you don't to have two good wheels. He would hit 2 more 3's on 2 more attempts in the second quarter giving him 18 at the half. Woody would also continue to light it up hitting for 13 more points in the quarter giving him 27 at the break. Tim Thomas would lead by 4 at the half, in large part due to 6'9 Sophomore Darryl Watkins. The first two games I saw Watkins he did not show me anything but this game he was excellent scoring about 14 points in the first half and 23 for the game. But also the first 2 times I saw him play he didn't have Elijah Ingram to get him the ball. The second half saw Dwayne Lee emerge as he hit 4 of his 5 3's in the half. Ingram would look to pass a lot more and didn't really shoot scoring just 7 in the half to finish with 25. Darryl Watkins continued to play well in the second half, and Shawn Banks also stepped it up, as Tim Thomas would pull away in the second half to win 105-86. Woody finished the game with 38 but he slowed down in the second half and was unable to carry his team the whole game.
Chase the Game @ Fordham University
After IS8 I went home got a bite to eat then went back out to the Chase the Game exposure games. I don't really see the purpose of this because there was only pool play and no champion crowned, and with this being the dead period no college coaches were allowed to be present. But anyway I saw two games, one was a 17u game between the Ravens and Long Island Lighting. This game was surprisingly close. The Ravens led by 6, and Allan Ray scored the first 5 points of the second half to bring the lead up to 11. But the Lightning would not fold as they came storming back and would be tied with 10 seconds left with the ball, but they were unable to convert. Daon Merritt got the ball in his hands and pushed up setting up Tariq Atkins for a lay-up, he missed the layup but was fouled. Atkins then missed both free throws sending the game to overtime. Merritt would score the first two points of the 2 minute overtime, then Donnie McGrath would hit 2 free throws with about 10 seconds left to ice it. The Ravens won 80-78. Merritt led the way with 23 while Ray added 19.
    I also saw the best 15u team in the nation take on the Ravens. The Gauchos as usual had the 3 headed monster of Yata Gaines, Ronald Ramon and Russell Robinson. But in this game Robinson and Ramon did not have it going. Gaines would step it up carrying his team for the entire game. Midway threw the first half the Ravens were trailing by 2 when Shahee Martin was fouled attempting a shot. Gavin Grant was then called for a tech. Martin hit all 4 free throws, then Yata would hit a 3 putting his team up 9, and took a 28-24 lead into the half. Late in the second half the Choz led by 2, but then  would go on a 7-0 run to put the game away and win 55-47. Brian Laing played well for the Ravens showing strength inside and a pretty good mid range game. Gavin Grant did not play well, as he went away from his game of shooting the ball, yes it is possible to be too unselfish. That is what Grant was doing, in order for the Ravens to win they need him to score and if he's not scoring they won't win.

When I got to IS8 the Tim Thomas Playaz were in the closing seconds of a 73-69 loss to the Wolfpack and I saw Elijah Ingram on the bench. Later on I found out he got hurt and only played two quarters, but in those two quarters he put up an amazing 31 points including 7 3-pointers. He didn't play in his teams game against the Queens Cobras, and I am not sure if he will be playing tomorrow. I left at halftime of the Playaz and Cobras game with the Playaz up 28-23 at the break. Nobody was real spectacular on either side. In the full game I saw Brooklyn Bridge took on Rebel. The Bridge was missing star players Sebastian Telfair and John Quintana, and it showed they needed them early on as they trailed by 13 at the half. Mark Riley and Rob Legister led the way in the first half. Riley hit every open shot he had scoring about 11 in the first half while Legister had about 10. The Bridge had a very young team led by Mitchell Beauford but he did not play too well. Jamaal "Tank" Dart played well in the second half and so did #11 (not sure of his name). The Bridge closed the gap to 4 late in the end but they could get no closer as Rebel would pull away for a 87-69 win. Latwann Scott played well for Rebel in the 4th quarter hitting a few pull up jump shots. I may be going out to IS8 tomorrow but I'm not sure yet.

    Today I made a trip down to IS8, I saw two games. The first was between St. Mary's and Rocksteady Beacon. Rocksteady was led by by Chris Taft who was dominant in the first half. Taft scored on baby hooks, off offensive rebounds and 15 footers to help put his team up comfortably for most of the first 3 quarters. St. Mary's trailed by 9 going into the 4th quarter, and that's when they started to heat up. Brian Preston who was hot all game continued to hit 3 after 3, but what was constant the whole game until the 4th quarter was his brother Matt Preston who started hitting his shots in the 4th. What hurt Rocksteady the most is the stopped getting Chris Taft the ball. St. Mary's ended up winning the game by about 9. Brian Preston scored at least 30 points to lead the Gaels. After watching Chris Taft dominate I am convinced he is the best player in the Sophomore class, and I hope he is attending either Nike or Adidas Camp.

    The second game I saw and the final game of the day matched up the Queens Cobras and the Wolfpack. The Wolfpack had a loaded roster with Lenny Cooke, Tommie Eddie, George Jefferson, Mikail Malik, Shaheen McNair and Justin Marshall. But for reason they couldn't pull away from the Cobras for the first 3 quarters, who had a bunch of kids that no one has heard of. The scored heading into the 4th quarter was 52-50, and that's when the game turned the way it should've from the start. The Wolfpack put up 38 points in the 4th quarter to pull away from the Cobras. Lenny Cooke led the way for the winners and showed off his shot blocking abilities as he rejected 4 shots. Tommie Eddie hit 3 3's in the 4th quarter but couldn't get anything going in the first 3 quarters. It's funny to watch Brian Raimondi play over people like Shaheen McNair and Mikail Malik, for any amount of time. That just shows what money can do and how corrupt some AAU programs are.