Columbus Day Challenge Event Recap
The New England Recruiting Report was at Connecticut College on Sunday to take in bracket play at the Columbus Day Challenge. Here’s a rundown of how the championships were decided in the four high school divisions:
The High School senior division saw a match-up between the New York Falcons and the Whitby Wildcats from Canada in the final. The Falcons scored the victory and subsequent championship by relying on the backcourt duo of Shane McLaughlin and Casey Woodring, along with their counterparts from the Empire State.
The duo also came up big in the semifinals when the Falcons scored a close victory over Aim High from Connecticut. Billy McDonald was productive in the front court, showing his athleticism and three-point range, while James Jennings and Tyler Huffman were equally impressive in the backcourt.
The New England Playaz scored their first championship of the weekend when they knocked off New Renaissance from New York, eventually pulling away for a double digit win after what had been a hotly contested first 30 minutes.
Kuran Iverson was making his first appearance in a Playaz uniform and ended up playing a crucial role in Sunday’s championship run. He not only got hot with his jumper to put up big point totals in both the semifinals and the finals, but he also played with unprecedented energy and intensity on both ends of the court, even diving on the floor for loose balls.
Also showing well for the Playaz was the backcourt trio of Adrian Oliveira, Cane Broome, and Aaron Calixte. Oliveira was smooth and efficient with the ball while Broome was his normal playmaking self off the ball screen, but it was Calixte who was most dependable with his creativity off the dribble.
John Powell and Jarred Reuter anchored the interior, not just by scoring around the rim but also showing off their complimenting passing skills, while Maurice Taylor did his best work slashing along the baseline.
New Renaissance was led by swingman Terry Tarpey, who may have been the tournament’s most dominant performer on Sunday. The Fairfield Prep star was all over the floor, making plays defensively, starting the break with his dribble, and rising up to get his head on the rim for a variety of huge dunks.
The Northfield Mount Hermon duo of Skyler White and Jashanti Allen also played well for New Renaissance with White showing his typical prowess from long range and Allen using his quickness and handle to make plays with the ball.
Also making a run in the junior division were the Mass Rivals, who advanced to the semifinals but stood out as the young team on the rise in the region. Playing without Matt Cimino and Dimitri Floras, the Rivals got a boost from newcomers Jeremy Miller and Jalen Adams, who combined with Noah Vonleh and Kaleb Joseph to form a highly talented core. Miller showed his unique ability to step out and stretch the defense, knocking down threes in bunches, while Adams made a number of highlight reel plays with the ball in his hands in the open floor.
The New England Playaz took their second championship in Sunday’s nightcap by holding off a strong Rhode Island Hawks team. Jacquil Taylor stood out in route to the championship, not only coming up with timely buckets down the stretch, but also owning the glass and blocking a variety of shots.
Brian Mukasa emerged as a surprise hero, clinching the victory in the game’s final moments at the free-throw line and coming up with key defensive stops throughout. Jeff Spellman and Kahari Beaufort led the way for the Playaz on Saturday, showing their superiority from behind the three-point line as Spellman went 7-8 from behind the arc while Beaufort finished 4-6 in one game.
The Hawks were led by Jackson Donahue, who seemed to make big shot after big shot to keep the Hawks within striking distance in the final. Henri Bolton also showed well, making strong drives off the dribble as well as contested jumper from long range.
Connecticut Select made a strong run to the division semifinals and were led by Ian Gardner who went for 25+ points in the final four.
The Mass Rivals took home the chip in the u15 division. Chris Baldwin played a starring role, showcasing a rare combination of talent and long term potential. Ben Judson and Zavia Williams were especially impressive in the semifinals as Judson slashed to the rim for multiple and-one finishes while Williams displayed a smooth shooting touch and skill set. Tyree Weston was also a consistent producer on both ends of the floor.
The Rivals knocked off Connecticut Select in the finals. Undermanned with only seven players for the weekend, Select simply ran out of gas by Sunday afternoon, but that didn’t stop Roy Kane from turning in his latest big performance.