BasketBull National Invitational - Recap II
The Hall of Fame Fame National Invitational wrapped up on Sunday with champions being crowned at Springfield's Mass Mutual Center.
The seventeen-and-under division came down to a pair of local clubs in the Middlesex Magic and MB Nation battling it out in the final. The Magic advanced with a convincing semifinal win over the NYC Jayhawks while the Nation scored their second big upset of the weekend by knocking off the Westchester Hawks.
The highly anticipated local rivalry had an unusual first half to say the least as MB Nation attempted to force the Magic to extend their defense by holding the ball just over half-court, but the Magic defense refused to stretch that far from the basket. The stand-off took nearly ten minutes off the clock but ultimately things got going again when the Magic came out to pressure the ball.
Once the game actually began, it lived up to expectations as both teams played at a high level in the second half. The game went back and forth until the last minute of play when Chris Lee gave the Magic a one point win by knocking down a 12-footer in the short corner after rolling off a ball-screen. Nearly 20 seconds later, Isaiah Bess would regain the lead for the Nation, slicing down the lane for an extension lay-up.
The play of the game took place on the next possession when Chris Braley, a player who came up the ranks in the MB Nation system, came off a high ball screen to bury a deep three as his former coach allowed a slight grin. Subsequent free-throws by Lee and a last second three-pointer from Dustin Cole resulted in a 34-33 win for the Magic and their second Hall of Fame National Invitational Championship.
Here's a look at some of the top individual performances we saw Sunday at the Mass Mutual Center:
Chris Braley, Middlesex Magic - Before the rising senior swingman hit the dagger of the finals, he got hot with his jumper in the semis, drilling six three-pointers and providing the offensive spark to lead the Magic into the final.
Pete Miller, Middlesex Magic - It's been a busy few days for Miller who began the live period in Philadelphia for the Reebok Breakout Camp, only to return to Springfield Friday night before heading to the Hoop Mountain All-Academic Camp on Saturday. If he was tired today, you wouldn't have known it as he controlled the paint on both ends of the floor.
Dustin Cole, MB Nation - He showed a ton of toughness this weekend, almost willing his team to a Cinderella story title in the u17 while shouldering the tremendous responsibility of initiating his team's dribble drive motion often against a series of older, longer and, often times, more athletic teams.
Isaiah Bess, MB Nation - This was a breakout day for Bess as his talent and long term potential stood out against the highest levels of competition he's ever seen on a big stage. He made shots from behind the three-point line while also exploding down the lane for a number of smooth drives.
Chris McCullough, Team Scan - The boys from New York were obviously the main attraction for high-major coaches and McCullough was far and away the top prospect in the field. He made a variety of high level plays in the u16 final
to display his size, length, skill, agility & staggering talent.
Quincey McKnight, Team Scan - The Connecticut native starts on the wing for this loaded Team Scan squad and makes the most of his opportunities on the offensive end, showing creativity and a quick first step to get to the rim before finishing with body control.
Henry Bolton, Rhode Island Hawks - Bolton's ability to make tough shots was just one reason why the Hawks were able to advance all the way to the finals of the u16 bracket. He's a well built guard who can create space with his dribble and has a knack for drilling shots off his back foot.
Kealen Ives, Rhode Island Hawks - Certainly not the flashiest guy in the gym, Ives understands all the little details that go into being a true point guard and he embraces them all in order to run the show for the Hawks. He takes care of the ball, plays with poise, gets others shots and defends.
Jacquil Taylor, Prodigy - The rising junior continues to intrigue coaches from a variety of different levels. Prodigy only played one game early Sunday morning but Taylor was ready to go first thing with a pair of big dunks along with his
normal assortment of blocks.
Matt Mobley, Bay State Flash - A few weeks ago, he showed his potential among top prospects at the Eltie 75. Today, he continued that pursuit at the National Invitational, attracting more and more attention from college coaches as the weekend went on and being among one of the bigger stock risers of the weekend.
Carlin Haymon, Bay State Flash - When the Flash found themselves in a big hole on Sunday, they turned to Haymon to carry them back. The creative lead guard didn't dissapoint as he sparked a huge second half comeback to lead the Flash to another big win in the semis.
Jared Neves, Bay State Flash - The St. Paul's big man had a game winning buzzer beater on Sunday afternoon to give the Flash the title on the right side of the u17 bracket. A power player inside the paint, Neves followed a miss on the
offensive glass to beat the buzzer and earn the title.
Malik Chappell, MABC Bengals - An undersized big man, Chappell is still a force inside the paint on the defensive end, crashing the glass and blocking a ton of shots. Offensively, he's smooth in transition and able to show his athleticism
by finishing the break with dunks.
Nick Fenton, Connecticut North Stars - The emotional leader for the North Stars, Fenton showed a balanced floor game to lead his club to a perfect 5-0 record on the weekend. His most consistent work came in the open floor as he was able to get out in transition to put points on the board.
Garet Beal, Maine Athletic Club - MAC came up just short of pulling a Sunday morning upset over the Nike sponsored Albany City Rocks. Beal sparked the charge on the offensive end, knocking down pull-ups and three-pointers to show his complete skill set.
Samuel Dingba, Westchester Hawks - Making his first appearance since going down with an early June shoulder injury, Dingba didn't show the rust you would expect from a guy who hasn't play in a month. Instead, he immediately asserted himself as one of the tournament's most dominant defensive presences.
Chris Walters, United Sons & Daughters - The unsigned senior is a long and athletic swingman with the physical tools to intrigue coaches from different levels of college basketball. He seized the opportunity to impress today, knocking down multiple threes in the game.
Matt St. Amour, Lone Wolf Athletics - Coming off a big performance at Hoop Mountain's Super Week II, St. Amour didn't miss a beat today by showing his complete offensive arsenal, making a variety of tough shots off both the catch and the dribble to lead his team offensively.
Colin Pascoe, Rhode Island Hawks - Pascoe was a bright spot for the Hawks on Sunday morning, making contributions in more subtle ways like defense and rebounding while also standing out as a vocal leader for his club and showing flashes of his offensive talent.
Greg Senat, Metro Boston - Senat was impressive early this week at Hoop Group Elite Camp and continued to show well with Metro Boston. He's a physically imposing presence inside the lane who provides a legitimate back-to-the-basket scoring presence.