ZG NE Hoops Fest - Event Recap
In one of the most talent-filled tournaments in the northeast, more than 250 teams gathered for the Zero Gravity NE Hoop Festival across southeastern Massachusetts this past weekend. Along with several programs turning the corner, many players stood out; some of whom are established in New England, and some who are making a name for themselves right in front of our eyes.
The Varsity division saw Middlesex Magic take a familiar position atop the bracket, as they had to grind out a victory over a tough Beantown Bulls team that has played better and better each week. While the Magic claimed the American Championship, the National Championship belonged to Boston Bobcats- Carter, who cruised to victory in the final. RI Cyclones were big winners in the International Championship, too.
BABC took the crown in the American Championship of the 10th grade division. Evolution RB/GL fought through a tough semifinal and final to capture the National Championship. Middlesex Magic- Kedner made it a second Magic moment for the program as they rolled through the International division for the championship.
The American Championship went to the Boston Bobcats in impressive fashion, as they are continuing to come on strong as a program that cannot be taken lightly in the 9th grade division. Expressions Elite also parleyed their performance last week into a title this week, taking down the National Championship. Central Mass Swarm- Gold topped off the week with a title of their own, cruising to the International Championship.
Because of the talent the NEHF attracts, many players have already established themselves in New England (and beyond, in some cases). The following players continued their strong play at the NEHF:
Brycen Goodine (BABC, 2019)- Goodine's shot is an under-appreciated part of his game. He has worked hard to compact it, and he gets it off much quicker now than he used to.
Kai Toews (New England Playaz, 2018)- Toews is as steady as they come in running his team's offense. Disciplined enough to make the right pass, the Northfield Mount Hermon point guard excels while playing with teammates who can knock down shots, as he can get in the lane & kick the ball out for open shots.
Thomas Shaughnessy (Middlesex Magic, 2018)- One of the breakout stars of the summer, the Magic guard added noticeable muscle over August and September. He continued his steady play this weekend, but the added strength will serve him well as he moves into a big high school season for Needham.
Quest Harris (BABC, 2020)- Beginning with the Elite 75 Frosh/Soph, Harris has shown he has the capable tools to be a high-level point guard in the future. His quick first step enables him to get in the lane, but his stop & go move makes him tough to defend once he get there.
Jordan Mason (Wrightway Skills, 2019)- The 6'4 wing scored from all three levels all weekend, turning in one of the more dominating weekends of any individual player. His midrange game has improved so help-defenders need to be even more aware if he beats his defender off the dribble.
Ethan Wright (New England Playaz, 2018)- Coming into the NEHF with the reputation as a big-time shooter, Wright did nothing to dispute that notion. But he showed advances in his game as he consistently made plays for other coming off ball screens.
Mitch Doherty (BABC, 2019)- Doherty is one of the best passing front court players in New England, a trait he demonstrated more and more as the weekend went on. If you are open off a basket-cut, it's a safe bet that Doherty will get you the ball in a position to score.
Terion Moss (Blue Wave Elite, 2018)- Moss is one of he better 1-on-1 defenders in his class. His quick feet enable him to stay in front of everyone. Already with scholarship interest, Moss has proven himself capable of playing well against good competition this fall.
Mohamed Traore (Beantown Bulls, 2018)- The guard has been working on his jumper, and the hard work is paying off as it looks much smoother and his release is much quicker than we have seen it. He can drill shots off the catch and off the bounce.
Christian Beck (Mass Elite, 2019)- Beck has impressed at Zero Gravity events and the Elite 75 before, and he continued his momentum this weekend. He is a fierce competitor who gets to the FT line frequently because of his physical play and ability to drive straight at the hoop.
Tommy Maclean (MPC, 2017)- The Taunton HS senior drove the ball into the paint off one dribble and was able to make effective & quick decisions from there. His alertness while guarding off the ball made it easy for him to get a few quick steals & run outs, too.
But the NEHF also offers new opportunities for players to step up and show what they can do in a game setting. Some have worked hard to improve their skills since the last time we saw them, and some are new to New England all together. These are some of the breakout players from this weekend:
Bensley Joseph (Boston Bobcats, 2020)- Joseph is a lefty point guard who keeps the ball on a string. His talent was on display going up against great competition in the 9th grade division. Although not as well-known yet, Joseph has a bright future at the point guard position.
Patrick Mogan (Middlesex Magic, 2019)- Mogan emerged as one of the top prospects from the weekend. Armed with a frame that projects to fill out nicely and long arms, Mogan rebounds and blocks shots at high rates. He is also a very good passer both inside and out.
Dominic Mello (Expressions, 2020)- The Wareham product is a talented young guard who keeps the ball moving & get it to where it needs to go. He has the ability to put his teammates in positions to succeed.
Dan Porcic (New England Playaz, 2020)- Porcic has deep range on his jumper, and was able to extend the opposing defense with it. He kept shooting further & further out, which opened up driving lanes for his teammates.
Will Dorion (Boston Bobcats, 2020)- Dorion keyed the Bobcat outside shooting attack during their championship run, connecting on five 3-pointers in their win. Not every young player wants to take big shots, but Dorion stepped up in a big way for the Babcats.
Jamari Johnson (RI Elite, 2017)- The Classical HS forward is a powerful and explosive athlete who rocked the rim a few times this weekend. His jumper is improving, as well.
John West (BABC, 2020)- Already standing at 6'9, West impacts the game on both ends. Fluid while running the court and possessing good hands, West times his jumps well to block shots & works hard on the boards.
Justin Fitzpatrick (Evolution, 2020)- A long & lanky player with a lot of athleticism, Fitzpatrick has made solid strides in recent weeks. His intensity's picked up and he's rebounding at a much higher rate. Look for his maturation in his game to keep moving in the right direction as the rest of the fall season continues.
Leo Edo (Expressions, 2020)- Edo is a tough young player who finishes through and looks for contact inside the paint. He focuses on securing the ball after a rebound, too, showing maturity for a player of his age.
Angelo Santiago (New England Playaz, 2020)- The strong 6'3 wing has a quick first step that enables him to get into the lane quickly. Once there, he takes off in a hurry and gets to the rim.
Alex Stoddard (MPC, 2019)- Stoddard was hot from deep on Saturday afternoon. He controlled several stretches of the games with his barrage of 3-pointers. Some players get lucky with one stretch in one game, but Stoddard continued his hot shooting throughout the weekend.
Nick Redden (Central Mass Swarm, 2019)- A strong & skilled athletic wing, Redden can put points on the board for the Swarm. He is also not afraid of doing the little things to help his team win, as well, something that will translate to the winter season at Algonquin HS.
Pete Kapanides (Mass Elite, 2019)- The Bedford HS sophomore is a versatile defender and smooth outside shooter who wants to take big shots for his team. Kapanides also made key hustle plays for Mass Elite to propel them to the finals of the 10th grade division.
Camaron Tongue (Boston Bobcats, 2020)- Tongue rebounded the ball well inside all weekend, and has nice touch in the paint to finish off his own offensive boards.
Jack Connaughton (Middlesex Magic, 2019)- Connaughton finishes against stronger players inside and rebounded well. He is a tough, young player who, while undersized, is not afraid to go up strong with the ball.
Nas Camp (Boston Spartans, 2021)- With room to sprout up, Camp attacks the rim and is able to get in the paint and finish through contact. He is a prospect that will look to make some noise down the road.