The day began with the Situation Tournament, a true test of a player’s mental toughness and basketball intelligence. When the smoke cleared and the games were finished, the Knicks and Kansas emerged victorious in their respective leagues. With the Situation Tournament victory, Coach Reggie Johnson’s group kept their hopes for an undefeated camp campaign alive, having won the No-Dribble Tournament the previous night. Leading the way for the Knicks was big man Dairoby Taveras (LIC, NY). For the NCAA, smooth passing guards Ryan Lee (Terrill MS) and Kevin Ranaghan (Pearl River MS) led the charge.
The headline game of the afternoon was a quarterfinal match-up between the 4th seeded Knicks and the 5th seeded Thunder. It was a close game throughout and went down to the wire as many expected between the two evenly matched teams. Brandon Guest (Thomasville Prep, NC) of the Knicks and R0quan Hopson (Wakefield, VA) of the Thunder led the way for their teams. The game was tied with less than two minutes to go. The result was a close win for the Knicks who made just one more shot than the Thunder did.
The other quarterfinal match-up featured the 3rd seeded Lakers and the 6th seeded Sixers. The Sixers were looking to avenge an earlier loss to the Lakers during their regular season meeting. The Sixers came out with a mission. They scored and defended with a newfound energy just about when most players start to run on empty during this stage of camp. And no one player did it alone. “This was a true team victory,” said Coach Jason Armstrong. Despite a strong push by the talented trio of Justin Ardman (Methacton High School, PA), Justin Winston (St. Benedicts, NJ), and Jake Melnick (Staples HS, CT), the Lakers’ comeback fell short. They would lose the game by five points, making this the first major upset of the day.
And then there were two. After a compelling set of semi-final games, the Spurs and the Heat will be playing for the championship on Sunday. These two teams will have the night to rest and trash-talk a little bit before they play for camp bragging rights.
In the NCAA semi-finals, top seeded Kansas remained undefeated for the weekend. They made short work of Texas despite the inspiring play of Isaiah Charles who put the team on his back and made the game interesting. Coach Tarik Robinson said, “Isaiah killed today.” Despite having the best player on the court in the game, Texas would lose the game thus sending Kansas into the championship game.
Kentucky and Connecticut met in the other semi-final match-up. Led by the Simon twins, Cody and Simon (West Orange, NJ), Kentucky won convincingly to advance to the championship game where they will be looking to give Kansas their first loss of camp.
The finals match-up will feature two teams who played each other close during the regular season, with the heavily favored Kansas team winning only by a small margin the first time around.
The All-Star game did not disappoint the many parents and guests in attendance. The play of the NCAA teams impressed many of the parents as they watched the diaper dandies put on a clinic. The ball-handling was tremendous with all the players able to put the ball on the floor both in transition and in the half-court. The MVP honor for the NCAA went to Michael Watkins who finished with 24 points and 6 assists.
The NBA stars certainly did their part in the event as well. Leading the way for the Orange All-Stars was Brandon Guest who finished the first half with two monster slams, with one coming off the backboard from teammate Roquan Hopson. Not to be outdone, Andrew Groll had quite a game himself making the paint his home using his size and dominating his smaller opponents. The MVP of the All-Star game was Roquan Hopson with 22 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Check in tomorrow for the results of the finals showdown between the top two seeds in the NBA, the Heat and the Spurs. Happening at the same time will be the NCAA finals showdown between Kansas and Kentucky. The games tip off at 10 AM for anyone wanting to catch some of the action in the Bradley Center main gymnasium.