Junior Elite Championships Saturday PM Recap
Dramatic finishes were in high demand on Saturday afternoon and evening at the New England Junior Elite Championships as a number of contests went down to the wire.
U14 - New England Playaz vs. Rhode Island Hawks
Two talented teams squared off in a highly competitive game in order to claim their pool and advance to the u14 final. The Hawks looked like the team to beat early but the Playaz stormed back in final eight minutes of the game. Nelson Zayas was huge late in regulation, hitting three three-pointers down the stretch. Jackson Donahue was equally clutch for the Hawks, rebounding from a tough first half to hit a trio of threes of his own in the second. The Playaz big man in the middle, Kahlil Walker, went to work inside, finishing with 26 points by using his strong body and soft touch, while Dizel Wright also showed flashes of his ability and creativity to lead the Playaz to a hard fought overtime victory and a spot in Sunday’s u14 championship game.
U14 – MB Nation vs. Mass Rivals
The other unofficial semifinal in the u14 bracket was no less dramatic as the MB Nation/Mass Rivals game came down to the very last possession. It was a one possession game with only a few seconds left on the clock when the Rivals were called for an inbounds violation. Dustin Cole put the finishing touches on a terrific day by icing the game at the free-throw line.
U13 – MB Nation vs. St. Anne’s Shooters
The final game of the day on Saturday was also the most exciting as MB Nation and St. Anne’s went through an overtime thriller that included huge possession after huge possession. With his team trailing by one with five seconds to play MB Nation’s Caleb Main made the defensive play of the game by stealing the ball and throwing it ahead to Ben Malloy who streaked to the rim and made a contested lay-up to win the game just before time expired. Malloy finished with a game high 18 points.
MB Nation’s Dustin Cole and Boston Blue Chips Aaron Falzon put together the two most impressive performances of the afternoon, going back and forth in a classic one on one battle. While the two don’t play the same position and were not guarding each other, they both put their respective teams on their back and demonstrated their tremendous talents. While MB Nation would pull out the win it was only appropriate that both players finished with equivalent point totals of 31. Cole is a highly skilled lead guard who was putting on a shooting clinic, especially with his mid-range pull-up, while also breaking his man down off the dribble. Meanwhile Falzon made some big time moves on the block but also stepped up to the arc and showed his ability to stretch the defense with his three-ball.
Saturday’s Other Stars
• Tyler Ackley, Lone Wolf – Ackley was the standout from up north as he led Vermont’s best to a tough win over the Blue Chips with a game high 22 points. Ackley was able to score both in the open court as well as the quarter court, showing good instincts going to the rim and finishing plays.
• Akwasi Appiah, Visionary Basketball Club – This 8th grader screamed of potential as he is long and athletic and already good enough to drop 17 points including two three-pointers while playing up an age group with the u15’s.
• Jayson Colon, Visionary Basketball Club – Rhode Island Hawks coach Jason Elliott described him as “a little Deron Williams” thanks to his size, strength, and playmaking ability from the point guard position.
• Matt Tseng, MB Nation – He was an unsung hero for his squad down the stretch of their opening game, finishing inside, rebounding, and making a couple of key defensive stops.
• James Murphy, Rhode Island Hawks – A young player who already understands the virtue of having a high motor, Murphy made a variety of hustle plays and scored points because of it, finishing with 18 and getting every loose ball and rebound possible.
• Jesse Brown, Rhode Island Hawks – Shot maker who has great loft and backspin on his ball. He was capable firing when coming off a screen and could also rip through and attack off the catch.
• Joel Wincowski, St. Anne’s Shooters – An attacking player who knows how to put the ball in the basket and get himself to the free-throw line, Wincowski scored the ball in a variety of ways and finished with 22 points in the nightcap.
• Andrew Cartwright, MB Nation – We continue to like what we see from this young big man as he has all the signs of being a potential star in the making after making an impact while playing up an age level.