The blue squad started with a whimper, but far surpassed their effort in this same tournament last year. Beginning with a game with a ranked Canadian club (Cambridge Elite), one thing was clear. That is, they would have to play with heart and be tougher because they certainly were not physically stronger. It didn’t help that the team had a 6’9″ guy who was more athletic than he looked. Blue started cold and couldn’t make shots. Despite a run in the second half to pull within 9, they couldn’t close the gap and lost by 14. Common Bond was next and presented a similar story; cold shooting, down early, comeback late, falter at end. However, Sunday brought a different mindset. Despite continuing the cold shooting, they put together two games of scrappy play to fight from the bottom of the bracket. The best team game came in the first one versus RISE. I saw plays that we never would have seen last year from the perspective of playing for each other. They got another victory against the Wolfpack, which set up a rematch with Cambridge immediately following in the semifinals due to a late starting game. Unfortunately, the guys gave it all in the prior two games and had nothing in the tank for that game which ended their tournament with a final 4 run.
Best play(s): – Isaiah Franklin with a half court heave at the buzzer vs. Common Bond.
-The diminutive Joseph Johnson with a big and-1 off a feed from Ricky Holmes III.
Pleasant surprise: – Jaqualyn Kelly just finds the ball. Despite this being his first action of the year, he just finds a way to get the ball in his hands off the glass.
Leader of the pack: – Trevor Bland continues to be the most consistent player offensively for Blue and showed flashes of his potential as a shooter as well.
Mr. Hustle: -Tyler Rose was literally all over the court with his hustle after loose balls and on defense…hopefully that rubs off.
An up and down season for the White squad continued during this tournament as well. There seems to be a pattern of starting strong, but faltering a bit down the stretch. The addition of new players and the subtraction of some old ones led to a bit of transition as well. That said, this is a process that is trending upward. The first game against RISE started well and was pretty close throughout until the size and physical play of their players got the better of us. The second game versus Linden came down to the wire, literally. In a stunning turn of events, White had the ball down two with 3 seconds left and looking for the game-tying hoop, when the official called a 3-second call on us with 0.8 seconds on the clock! I truly have never seen that before. Their final game was against the same Cambridge Elite team the Blue squad played. Again, it was a good start thwarted by questionable play toward the end. Don’t be discouraged young men. This is ALL about your growth on AND off the court. This experience will only help those things.
Unexpected Blessing: -Jaylen Watson came in to provide much needed size for the team. Once he becomes acclimated to the team and offense, watch out for him.
-Logan Vamos showed a toughness that we didn’t know he had. That will help moving forward.
-Ryan Beltz showed a much needed shooting touch in his first outing of the year.
Mr. Hustle: -Devon Williams continues to lead in all out effort. If he can corral some of that (no more techs) and pace himself, that energy is priceless.
Step Up Time: -This team needs leaders…who will step up?