Expressions wins Hoop Group Summer Jam Fest; Magic reach finals
With 147 teams in the 17u division of Hoop Group Summer Jam Fest, the finals came down to two New England teams in Expressions Elite and Middlesex Magic and the match-up went all the way down to the wire and was only decided by two points in overtime.
Coming off the championships at both the Atlantic City Jam Fest as well as the Big Apple Showcase, the Magic opened with a win in Friday's showcase game before beating Team Richmond Garner Road and Rhode Island Elite on Saturday. Sunday it was a 3 point win over the 6th Man Warriors followed by a 20 point win over an EYBL program in The Family.
On the other side of the bracket, Expressions bounced back from a Friday night loss to The Family and refocused with Saturday wins over City Rocks Orange and JB Hoops. They hit their stride on Sunday with wins over District Basketball Club and PK Flash.
The final was a back and forth battle from start to finish. The game was tied at 26 at halftime and continued to stay close throughout the second half. The Magic held a slim lead in the final moments but a Terrence Clarke buzzer beater tied the game at 61 and forced overtime. That wasn't the end of Clarke's heroics either as he caught an alley-oop with 1 second left in overtime to deliver the 65-63 decision and earn MVP honors.
Clarke walked away with an offer from Syracuse while Noah Fernandes, who stole the final inbounds pass of the game, added one from UMass. Joe Pridgen, who just added his first offer last week, added new invitations from Binghamton, Brown, Holy Cross, and Hartford.
Tommy ONeil was the Sunday standout for the Magic. He had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the quarterfinals, 25 in the semis, and 21 in the finals. 2020 guard Tyler Kolek, who starred on Saturday, added 15 in the finals and picked up an offer from Hartford in the process. Delaware commit Johnny McCoy had 15 and 13 in the semis and finals respectively while Mykel Derring provided a spark throughout the day as well with double figures in all three games.