Jaguars/Expressions Make Run in Philly
The Bay State Jaguars Elite/Expressions traveled to Philadelphia, PA this weekend for Philly’s Finest Take it to the Limit Tournament.
Playing up a division in the u15 age bracket, they went 3-1, knocking off the hometown club, Philly’s Finest, and Youth Interlock to make it to the semi-finals on Sunday afternoon.
Led by Jarred Reuter and Patrick Benzan, the Jaguars Elite, who were playing as Expressions, crushed Philly’s Finest by 30 points. Reuter punctuated the victory with a thunderous alley-oop dunk that brought the house down. Benzan also amazed the crowd with a Rondo-esque fake pass lay-in that left his defender tripping over his feet.
In the second game of pool play, the host team, Philly Finest’s U15s tried everything but simply couldn’t handle the skilled and talented Jaguars Elite/Expressions squad. The Jags/Expressions team boasts a cadre of big men that taxed most teams beyond repair. Jeremy Miller 6’8”, Drew Shea 6’5”, Kevin Conner 6’3” and Reuter 6’7” controlled the boards the entire game and brought home the victory. Kyle Rodriguez, a 5’10” swing guard, put the defensive clamps on Philly Finest’s most effective scorer.
In the first round of the championship bracket, the Jags/Expressions eagerly awaited their next opponent - Youth Interlock of Pennsylvannia whose U14’s who were also playing up in this tourney. This was a re-match of sorts as both teams had faced off during last year’s national championships in Memphis, Tennessee when Youthlock Interlock knocked off the Jaguars Elite and finished 9th in the country. The Jaguars Elite team bounced back and finished 7th after a series of impressive wins. The stage was set in Philly for a showdown of epic proportions. The teams did not disappoint.
Pat Benzan once again showed why many in the know consider him the best 8th grade point guard in the state. At one point, the YI coach exhorted to his team that Benzan was killing them and that they had to try and increase their pressure on him. Alas, it was to no avail as Benzan and fellow guards A.J. Maestas, Nick Simonetti, and Kyle Rodriguez put together an onslaught of offensive shots and defensive plays to secure their revenge. Reuter was a beast underneath, putting together a medley of moves and drives in the paint as YI had no answer for him. Miller and Shea dominated on both ends of the court as well. Both bigs were grabbing boards and scoring on choice opportunities. The Jags/Expressions bunch took control of the game in the second half and won a hard fought and emotionally draining game.
The Jags/Expression team lost steam as the semi-finals began. Playing yet another team from the region, the Jags were simply too tired to handle the big line that was Team Philly’s strongest asset, With a frontline of 6’9”, 6’7” and 6’7”, Team Philly’s length proved to be Jags’s downfall. But even so, with a little less than 5 minutes to go in the game, the Jags Elite/Expressions young team held on to a 1 point lead. Team Philly’s final push was just enough to overcome their opponents, but not enough to take away from what was a satisfying and successful weekend for the boys from Boston.
In the most recent months, The Jaguars Elite/Expressions have enjoyed wild success as a team. They captured both the Massachusetts State Championship and the New England Super Regionals Championship. Their ever-growing list of victims includes a traditional national power in Team Takeover out of Baltimore, MD, the number 2 team in the US, Carolina Elite/United Stars, and #9 Youth Interlock, not to mention local competitors BABC and Spartans.