Crotty Memorial Games Event Recap
The Middlesex Magic, Mass Rivals, and Boston Amateur Basketball Club came together on Friday night to honor the late Mike Crotty Sr., the longtime coach and director of the Middlesex Magic Basketball club. A good sized crowd gathered at Boston University’s Case Gymnasium both to pay tribute to Coach Crotty and watch some of the top basketball talent in the state.
The evening’s festivities began with a u15 game between the BABC and the Rivals while a u16 game between the Rivals and the Magic was next. The nightcap featured a match-up of the Rivals and Magic u17 team’s with a ceremony honoring Coach Crotty taking place prior to the tip. During the ceremony Magic captain Pat Connaughton spoke of his coach’s huge presence in the gym and the many lessons he taught on and off the court while Mike Crotty Jr. expressed his family’s thanks and appreciation for all the love and support they have received.
U-17 – Mass Rivals 72 Middlesex Magic 69 (Double Overtime)
The Magic came out with a rush of energy and jumped all over the Rivals early, establishing a quick double digit lead. But the Rivals utilized their deep and talented rotation and eventually cut the deficit to 33-28 heading into the half.
The Magic opened the second much like they did the first and used their trademark high energy, in addition to some well executed half-court sets, to push the lead back to double figures. But once again the Rivals would come storming back and eventually take their first lead of the game on a Jordan Laguerre spinning lay-up. Laguerre would continue his heroics down the stretch slicing through the line for a reverse lay-up with 40 seconds left and then stealing the inbounds pass and laying that in to give the Rivals back the lead. Connaughton was no less clutch for the Magic, hitting a huge three and then a tough turn-around jumper from the free-throw line. Laguerre had another chance to be the hero but missed a potential game winner with one second left and consequently forced overtime.
Both teams locked down defensively in the first overtime, going stop for stop to keep the game locked up throughout the three minute extra session. Once again the Rivals would have the last possession and Joe Mussachia’s potential game-winner rolled over the rim before eventually falling out and forcing a second overtime.
The second overtime was full of dramatics and excitement as the Rivals were able to open up a two possession lead within the final minute. In response Coach Crotty Jr. went to a “hack-a-Canty” strategy, sending the Rivals big man to the free-throw stripe by fouling him away from the ball as soon as his team got possession.
With his team up one with fifteen seconds left to play, Canty would make his second trip to the free-throw line. The free-throw would go off the back of the rim but point guard Zach Hurynowicz would fight into the lane to get a huge offensive rebound and get the ball to Laguerre before he was quickly fouled. Laguerre went 1-2 at the stripe but again the Rivals were able to get the offensive rebound and so the Magic predictably fouled Canty yet again.
The big man returned to the stripe and knocked down 1 of 2, to make it a three-point game. The Magic called a timeout to try and diagram a final play but Chris Hurley’s three-pointer fell short giving the Rivals a hard fought win.
Jordan Laguerre was special for the Rivals down the stretch of this game while Ryan Canty also played his best game in recent memory. Canty threw down his customary dunks, including one ridiculous reverse slam from the baseline that came over a contesting 6’9” defender, but was also impressive offensively scoring by facing up as well as with his back to the basket.
Connaughton continued to be the spark plug for the Magic. Beyond his own heroics at the end of regulation, he scored in high volume throughout the game, getting most of his points inside the paint either by going to the post or utilizing a crafty dribble.
Anthony Barry and Hurley also provided sparks for the Magic as Barry was great finishing plays around the rim while Hurley stroked threes as well as one dribble pull-ups. Young big man Pete Miller also impressed, getting on the glass and sticking some mid-range jumpers.
More important than any individual performance, this was a tremendous basketball game, well played and hard fought by both clubs and full of emotion and drama.
Coach Crotty certainly would have loved it and as Coach Crotty Jr. said following the game, “he did love it.”
U15 – BABC 77 Rivals 57
The night’s kick-off featured two highly talented young teams. The contest went back and forth throughout the majority of the first half. BABC opened up a 33-26 advantage heading into halftime after Rene Castro drilled a pull-up three-pointer just prior to the buzzer.
BABC utilized their full court pressure defense for all 40 minutes of action and gradually wore the Rivals down in the second after freshman sensation Noah Vonleh fouled out with over ten minutes still left to play in the game. A Goodluck Okonoboh reverse dunk on the break gave BABC their first double digit lead and although the Rivals would strike back with a 6-0 run, back to back three-pointers by Jake Fay would push the lead to double figures once and for all.
Castro and Wayne Selden both scored 18 points to lead BABC. Castro put the ball in the basket both by shaking his man off the dribble as well as shooting the long ball. Selden flat out bullied people to get to the rim, and also ended up making numerous trips to the foul line. Okonoboh scored 11 points while utilizing his athleticism to grab double figure rebounds and block several shots. Fay was Mike Marra-esque at times, with an almost identical release point and similar ability to score in bunches from behind the three-point line.
Despite playing very limited minute due to foul trouble, Vonleh continued to be incredibly impressive, making a variety of big time moves. Alec Brennan and Matt Cimino stood out as two youngsters with high upsides given their length and skill set while we also liked what we saw from Dimitri Floras and Joel Barroa.
U16 – Rivals 59 Magic 48
The teams went back and forth throughout the majority of the first half but the Rivals were able to establish control of the lead in the second, and gradually push their advantage to double figures. They looked poised to pull away at one point but the Magic showed great grit and determination to fight back and make it a game.
The Rivals utilized an extremely balanced backcourt attack, with several members of their u15 team playing up in this game. Floras picked up right where he left off in the first game, scoring a team high 14 points while showing a versatile offensive arsenal. Barroa also shined for the second consecutive game while Brad Holler contributed some deep shot making. Javon Williams scored 9 points for the Rivals but continues to make a variety of scholarship level plays on both ends of the floor.
Big man Pete Miller was an intriguing prospect for the Magic. The six-foot-nine big man showed an impressive tool set and the potential to blossom into a very good player down the road. Leading the way on the perimeter was Cooper Ainge who demonstrated an extremely fundamentally sound game with the ability to handle, pass, shoot the three, or pull-up.