ZG Battle for the Belt - 2019 Recap
Titles were won and championship belts earned on Sunday at the Battle for the Belt, the culmination of Zero Gravity’s Fall Circuit.
Rise Above Basketball and New England Rivals took the top prizes in the varsity division as recent Emmanuel College commit Bryant Ciccio capped a brilliant grassroots career with a win in his last game for RAB and the Rivals kept up their winning ways after taking the Hoop Group championship in July. Other winners in the varsity division including HCBC, Bay State Jags, Maine Renegades, and Middlesex Magic-Bennett.
The Bay State Jags could have been dubbed the tag-team champions of the 10th grade division after both their Doner and O’Connor teams walked away with title belts. Other winners included Mass Premier, Teams Sims, Beantown Ballers, and Team Spartans Regional.
Team Spartans and New England Rivals both earned championship belts in the 9th grade division where they were joined by another Team Sims squad along with Boston Warriors, Middlesex Magic-Corcoran, and Central Mass Swarm-Minarik.
NERR’s Zack Sandberg was on hand throughout the weekend, as he has been for the entire Path to the Belt, to profile the top individual performers in actions.
Class of 2020
Bryant Ciccio, Rise Above – It was a fitting final chapter for Ciccio, a player whose development has been both rapid and consistent over the last year. It all started about thirteen months ago, when he stood out virtually every weekend on the 2018 ZG Path to the Belt. With his recruitment winding down this fall and his senior year upon him, he returned to wear the RAB jersey one more time this weekend and delivered his heroics for the final time – most notably the buzzer-beating three-pointer that earned his squad a spot in the final.
Earl Tucker, Prodigy – A talented prospect with a powerful frame who has been known on the circuit since making his debut as an underclassman, Tucker now appears to be putting all the pieces together. He was blocking shots defensively, scoring through contact offensively, and looked to be on the verge of a big high school season.
Zendon Correia, NE Rivals Perry – A super athletic and bouncy big man, Correia was a force on the defensive end of the floor as he averaged close to 5 blocks per game and altered numerous others. He has plenty of upside still left to discover too as the 6-foot-8 big man has a frame to keep filling out and offense to add to his repertoire.
Leon Williams, ASA Rudy – He lit the gym on fire this weekend when he threw down one of the best dunks of the tournament and showed how one momentum changing play can instantaneously shift the energy of a game. Williams also impressed with his shooting and court vision this weekend.
Clay Brochu, RI Magic – The unsigned senior returned to the court after being limited by injury most of the fall and impressed on both ends of the floor. He plays with toughness, is a strong defender, and showed that he was capable of being an offensive threat at all three levels.
Class of 2021
Parker Mason, NE Rivals Wilner – Another player who is back healthy for the first time this fall, Mason was one of the keys to the Rivals’ success this weekend. He shined with his ability to stretch the floor while simultaneously showing the versatility to play multiple positions.
Drew Sachs, Middlesex Magic Crotty – Sachs put the final touches on what has been a breakout fall with another strong weekend. He plays with a toughness about him that can’t be taught but has a complementing skill-set to match as he can stroke it from behind the arc.
Sam Kodi, THWB – The New Hampshire native came into the weekend as an under-the-radar prospect but has a very intriguing upside. He was one of the most athletic players in the field but also has the size and length to match as a 6-foot-3 guard. As his skill-set starts to catch-up, he could be a big riser from the Granite State.
Jake Bender, NE Rivals Wilner – Another key cog in the Rivals’ championship, Bender could have a future as a three-and-D type prospect. He’s a high-flying athlete who is super bouncy and now better utilizing his physical tools with a much more aggressive mindset. He made tough plays and huge shots alike this weekend.
Brady Cummins, Middlesex Magic- Crotty - After breaking out earlier this month at the Maine Open Gym Series, Cummins showed off his athleticism and playmaking abilities.
Class of 2022
Tony Felder, Team Spartans – A two-way playmaker, Felder is a lethal scoring guard who has a terrific feel for the game and ability to balance his aggressive attack with good decision-making. He’s also an outstanding defender with a tenacious work-ethic that applies to both ends of the floor.
Amari Howell, BABC – Pound for pound, he may be the most seasoned and reliable point guard in the class right now. Howell is a blur with the ball in his hands, combining great speed with great vision. He’s a true point guard who distributes, runs the show, and also plays a leading role on the defensive end.
Mekhi Dedrick, Mass Rivals – We’ve seen this pattern before as an aggressive young guard plays up in the varsity division, puts points on the board, and shows tools for a bright future. Derrick was that player this weekend as he went for 25 points in one game with a relentless attack.
Tre Norman, BABC – One of the best long-term prospects in the field, Norman has good perimeter size and a versatile attack. He plays with a high I.Q. and moves the ball well, but is also a very good scorer with a potent mid-range game and willingness to both take and makes big shots.
Darius Peterson, ASA Alex – After starting to make a name for himself at last month’s Elite 75 Frosh-Soph, Peterson continued to show off his tools and vast potential for the rest of the fall. He’s a big, lanky guard who is just beginning to grow into his body and made big shot after big shot this weekend.
Matt Curtis, Team Spartans – Fresh off his first division I offer from Fairfield, Curtis was an electric scorer who was virtually automatic when he got his feet set from behind the arc but also able to put points on the board in other ranges as he scored all over the court, even throwing down dunks in the open court.
Marcos Montiel, Mass Rivals – Montiel was a crafty scorer who didn’t shy away from contact around the rim, but what really differentiated the youngster was how well he distributed the ball through four games on Saturday as he moved the ball, never let it stick, and, in so doing, showed an advanced understanding of his position.
Class of 2023
Holden Symonds, Middlesex Magic Crotty – He’s been one of the most consistent freshmen all fall long and has made consistent progress offensively in that time as well. He’s a very good athlete but now also beginning to turn a corner with his ball-handling and general understanding of the game.
Tyrese Garcia-Melo, THWB – This lead guard had both floor vision and court presence beyond his years as he stood out with his ability to see the floor and make the right pass at the right time.