Rumble in the Bronx - Saturday Recap
The first two days of the Rumble in the Bronx are in the books, and amongst a talented national field, several New England players and teams have made their mark already. Sunday should be interesting, as a number of New England teams have won their pools and will advance to the Gold Bracket. Stay tuned for coverage of championship Sunday.
Markus Kennedy, New England Playaz- In their opening pool play game against the Central Jersey Hawks, the Playaz were able to get their big man involved by spreading the court with adept long range shooters, notably Brewster Academy’s Max Hooper. Kennedy took advantage of the space inside, as he demonstrated a variety of post moves and fancy footwork. The Playaz look like a force to be reckoned with, even without Alex Murphy and Naadir Tharpe, as they are off to a 3-0 start.
Patrick Ackerman, Middlesex Magic- On Friday night, the Middlesex Magic faced a loaded NJ ABC team without one of their top players, Pat Connaughton. Ackerman did his best to help carry the team. He was active inside, blocking and altering shots, rebounding on both ends, and scoring via his righty jump hook. Though the undermanned Magic struggled overall in a difficult pool that also featured the Franchise All Stars from Texas, Ackerman’s play was certainly a bright spot.
Evan Cummins, New England Playaz 16U- Cummins filled up the stat sheet in his team’s opening win over the NJ Select Stars. He scored, passed the ball well on the interior, and controlled the glass. Cummins and fellow big man Jarred Reuter formed a terrific duo as they found each other time and time again in high low action against the zone.
Max Motroni and Charles Correa, RI Hawks 15U- The Hawks opened up in style with back to back wins over the Gauchos and the NY Panthers. Max Motroni starred, knocking down shots from the perimeter. Charles Correa was dominant as well, especially in the second half against the Gauchos, when he scored an impressive 23 points.
Tom Bajda, CT Elite 16U- Bajda was the difference maker in CT Elite’s overtime win against the NJ Roadrunners. An intriguing prospect with a filled out frame, Bajda put on a scoring clinic during his 25 point output. He showcased mid-range pull-ups, catch and shoot threes, and strong finishes on his way to his big night. The Rumble in the Bronx may prove to be a breakout event for Bajda, as he should expect heavy recruitment come July.
Evan Tullar and Alex Snyder, Lone Wolf- Lone Wolf had the unfortunate luck of drawing a very tough pool that featured both the Dallas Mustangs and the Juice All Stars. Nonetheless, the Vermont team competed, falling to Dallas by only single digits. Snyder and Tullar were the key contributors in that game. Snyder did his work on the interior, carving out space for himself, as he grabbed rebounds and finished plays inside. Tullar did his damage by attacking the rim, especially in transition.
Tavon Allen, Phil Gaetano, and Mike Mallory, CBC- CBC won their pool on Saturday, thanks in part to contributions from these three. Allen was great in the morning, getting to the basket and thriving in the open floor. Meanwhile, Gaetano was his usual self, orchestrating the offense and dictating the tempo of the game. The surprise may have been the play of Mike Mallory, a rising junior seeing spot minutes for the 17 and under squad. Though he is still learning how to play, Mallory got it going in CBC’s morning blowout win. He shoots the ball great in rhythm and can score in bunches when he is feeling good.
Dennis Clifford and Deric McCottrell, Bay State Magic- Bay State scored a huge win over Team Final on Saturday afternoon. Clifford proved just how far he has come in the victory, playing the full 32 minutes and leading the Magic the whole way through. Clifford was extremely assertive against Team Final’s athletic bigs. Keeping the ball high, he scored on powerful drop step moves, as well as jump hooks with both hands. The play of the game was Clifford’s explosive and-1 dunk over a Team Final defender at a crucial moment in the second half. Also playing well for the Magic was McCottrell, who was at his best slashing to the basket.
BABC 16U- It has been a total team effort for the BABC 16 and under squad that has plowed through pool play with a 58-29 victory over MSU Sky, a 80-33 win over Gold Coast Florida, and a 56-30 pounding of the Long Island Lightning. The team’s defense has been stifling, allowing an average of only 30 points per game. Nerlens Noel, Shaquille Jones, Jaylen Brantley, and Domonique Bull have starred for BABC, while Andrew Chrabascz has shown great toughness and rebounding. BABC has created fits for opposing offenses with their size, length, and hustle, and we fully expect their defensive prowess to continue on Sunday.
Jordan Laguerre, Mass Rivals- In an up and down affair, there are few better players than Jordan Laguerre. We saw that firsthand on Saturday afternoon in the Rivals’ match up with the Gauchos. Laguerre may have been the best player on the floor in the game because of his uncanny knack for getting to the rim before the defense becomes set. He was able to shake defenders with quick starts and stops, split traps, and find open shooters when the defense collapsed. In a tournament full of great guards, Laguerre has solidified himself amongst the best.