EYBL III - New England Recap
BABC and Expressions were both in Atlanta this weekend for the third session of the Nike EYBL regular season and the bar was set high for both with an incredibly difficult strength of schedule.
BABC faced off against Team Penny, Boo Williams, Nike Team Florida, and Team CP3 while Expressions also met CP3 as well as Georgia Stars, E1T1, and South Beach All-Stars.
Every game was a battle for BABC. They found themselves in a double figure hole against Team Penny on Friday night but made a valiant second half run before falling 67-61. Cole Swider scored a team high 16 points, Dimon Carrigan added 11 and 3 blocks, and Brycen Goodine made a nice contribution in his EYBL debut with 9 points in 7 minutes.
It was a similar story on Saturday morning as longtime Nike counterpart Boo Williams, featuring five-star small forward Keldon Johnson, scored a 70-59 win. Shandon Brown came alive offensively with 16 points while Jakigh Dottin and Swider both chipped in with 13 and 5 rebounds. Caden Dumas also began to make his presence felt in this one with 6 points and 10 boards.
The emergence of Brown and Dumas on Saturday morning would pay big dividends on Saturday night, when BABC’s perseverance and grit allowed them to stay in the game against Nike Team Florida, a squad with a trio of five-star sophomores. With BABC up by 1 in the final seconds, Vernon Carey Jr. (a consensus top 5 player in the class of 2019) had what appeared to be the game-winning dunk until he was forced to earn it at the free-throw line. After making the first, Carey rimmed out the second and so BABC pushed the ball up the floor and barely crossed half-court when Brown launched a runner that banked off the glass to give them a 77-74 win. Brown finished with 20 points and 6 rebounds while Swider matched his scoring output and contributed 4 rebounds of his own. Dumas finished with 10 points and 4 boards.
Sunday morning’s finale against CP3, a North Carolina bound squad that features a pair of future Tar Heels, was a heart-breaker. BABC opened a double figure lead in the first half but CP3 came charging back in the second, taking their first lead in the very final moments before a three-point play would solidify a 73-68 decision. Swider had 19 and 9 while Maurice Works had his best game of the weekend with 11 and Brown added 10. Carrigan anchored the defense with 8 rebounds and 3 blocks while Dottin handed out 7 assists.
Expressions’ outcomes were much more decisive as they didn’t have a single result inside of single digits. Balance was the key in a Friday night win over Jairus Hamilton, who was offered by Duke last week, and the Georgia Stars. Expressions was on fire to start, building up a 20 point halftime lead that proved to be too much for Georgia to overcome in the second. Marcus Zegarowski led the way with 21 points on 9-13 shooting from the floor, to go with 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Dana Tate was impressive with 17 points and 10 rebounds while Max Zegarowski and Noah Fernandes finished with 12 and 10 respectively.
Saturday morning’s match-up against CP3 was a one-sided affair but the 40-16 free-throw disparity was one that couldn’t be ignored either. Again, Expressions had four players in double figures with Zegarowksi having 16, Joe Kasperzyk 12, Philmon Gebrewhit 11, and Tate 10.
In the evening sessions Expressions scored their most impressive win of the weekend, against an E1T1 team with a pair of five-star bigs in Emmitt Williams and Silvio De Soussa. Tate was up to the challenge as he delivered 27 points and 7 rebounds in a huge performance while Gebrewhit also had his best game of the weekend with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Zegarowski and Kasperzyk steadied the backcourt with 16 and 10 respectively while both handing out 7 assists a piece as well.
Sunday’s morning game against South Beach All-Stars was a disappointing finish as they fell 80-49. Kasperzyk was perhaps the loan bright spot with 19 points including 4-9 shooting from behind the three-point line.
Both BABC and Expressions now sit at 7-5 in the EYBL regular season, which means the stakes couldn’t be higher heading into session four two weeks from now in Los Angeles. Adding to the drama is the fact that the two teams will also square off with a potential bid for the Peach Jam at stake as they are currently tied in Division D, with only the top five teams earning an automatic bid to the finals.