(Normally I ask Winston to cover the key basketball events in the NYC Metro area but with a big event at J.F. Kennedy HS this past Saturday and his work schedule not working out I did not hesitate to take Winston’s suggest to have Derrick Mullens cover the event for Blue Star. Following is Derrick’s detailed and excellent report. – Mike)
BRONX, NY – The day started out in a somber mood with the passing of legendary Hall of Fame coach Kay Yow, who passed away on Saturday morning, succumbing to breast cancer who died at the age of 66. Coach Yow would have been pleased to see how these players came out to play and giving it everything that they had on the court yesterday. With numerous college coaches in attendance, The Usual Suspects put on prime time performances, while there were some co-stars who will now be seeking star roles.
GAME #1 Sachem East 65, Mount Vernon 41 – All American junior, Kristen Doherty of Sachem East did not disappoint the fans and the college coaches in attendance. The tempo was set early as the smooth lefty gun slinger was scoring on long range jumpers, driving to the basket, hitting step back threes, etc. She finished with 24 first half points while helping her team to a 38 to 14 half time lead. In the second half Doherty showed her versatility while running the point in which she distributed beautiful assist ala NBA great Steve Nash. Mt. Vernon was unable to contain Doherty and also had problems in getting the ball inside to their 6’4” center LaBirdia Gordon. Keep your eye out for Gordon as she’s only an 8th grader. At the end of the night Doherty, the 5’10” guard finished with 34 points 9 assist and 7 rebounds.
GAME #2 North Babylon 63, Thomas Jefferson 58 – This was a game of the guards, which pitted North Babylon All Americans Bria Hartley and Eugenia McPherson against Jefferson guards Alicia Cropper and Renee Blake. Cropper, who’s one of the most gifted athletic guards in the City displayed her playground like style and helped her team to a 18 to 16 first quarter lead. The dynamic duo of Hartley and McPherson picked up the pace in the second quarter. St. Johns commit, McPherson displayed deft touch from the 3 point arch, while Hartley hit several pull up jumpers in the lane, helping North Babylon to a 34 to 26 half time lead. The Bulldogs of North Babylon went on their vintage 3rd quarter run with both Hartley and McPherson leading the onslaught. The Orange Wave countered with the hot shooting Renee Blake, who kept Jefferson within striking distance. In the end, it was too much Hartley and McPherson. McPherson finished with 27 points and Hartley contributed 26. Jefferson was led by Cropper’s 13, while her backcourt mate Blake chipped in 12. Wonder how the outcome would have been if Jefferson would have guard Tamika Lucky available?
GAME #3 John F. Kennedy 55, Brian Cliff 53 – This was one of the more exciting games of the day, which went down to the wire. JFK raced out to an early lead and was led by senior PG Teara Shaw. The speedy 5’2” guard used her dazzling speed to penetrate and breakdown the Lady Bear defense. Briar Cliff battled back led by Manhattan College commit, senior Maggie Blair. The Lady Knights of JFK led 39 to 34 at the half. In the second half, Shaw’s running mate 5’7” senior Robyn Jenkins picked up the pace offensively. She scored on short jumpers and drives to the basket. The Lady Bears 5’10” Blair showed great offensive versatility. She posted up scoring outside and then took it out to the wing and nailed some mid range jumpers. With JFK up by 53 to 51, Brianna Reid of Briar Cliff took the ball down the lane and scored to tie the game up at 53. With 2.9 seconds left on the clock Teara Shaw of JFK was inexplicably fouled, putting her on the line in which she nailed the winning free throws. JFK was led by Shaw (19) and Jenkins (19). Briar Cliff was led by who finished with 20.
GAME #4 Potter’s House (FL) 74, H.D. Woodson (MD) 58 – Though this game did not have any local flavor, it was clearly a battle of the nations finest. Wall to wall, this game was fast and furious. Woodson came out early and established low post supremacy using their 6’6” center Jenice Johnson. Unable to deal with the size of Woodson, Potter’s House countered with superior speed and quickness, which enabled them to turn this game into a track meet. Potters House led 36 to 29 at the half. Coach Bannister of Potters House then unleashed his young sophomore backcourt of Brittney Rountree and Shalethia Stringfield. These two guards were absolutely sensational. They were nailing jump shots all over the place, getting steals and finishing strong to the basket. Woodson had a lot of trouble dealing with the swarming and pressing of an undersized Potters House team, committing several uncharacteristic turnovers. Potters House won this game going away in the fourth quarter. Again, I loved those two sophomore guards from Potters House. Rountree finished with 28 points while Stringfield dropped an additional 20. Woodson was led by Johnson who finished with 26 points and 20 rebounds.
GAME #5 St. Michael’s Academy 64, South Shore 54 — This was a game that South Shore wanted and at the end of the night they proved that they can play with the elite. South Shore, led by the sleek sophomore Jasmine Odom raced out to an early lead. Odom knocked down two 3-pointers to open up the game. Nationally ranked St. Michaels who came into the game riddled with injuries used their overall size and depth to play even with the Lady Vikings in the first half. During the 3rd quarter both teams played pretty evenly. It wasn’t until the 4th quarter when St. Michaels began to take advantage of their size down low. 6’0” Jr. F. Jelleah Sidney did not score much, but in a very strange move coach Robert (Apache) Paschall had Jelleah run the point, which seemed to surprise South Shore. During several fast breaks, Jelleah penetrated the South Shore defense connecting with 6’1” So. F. Taylor Ford for one of several baskets. The young Ford was just a beast down low, finishing strong. South Shore had no answer for her down low. If it wasn’t Ford scoring down low, the other So. 6’2” Tiffany Jones was. Jones was dominating on the defensive end swatting shots left and right and dominating on the boards. 5’10” So. SG Allysia Roehler provided the outside touch for the Lady Eagles connecting on several perimeter shots. With the Lady Eagles up 64 to 40 late in the game, South Shore made a furious rally behind the scoring tandem of guards Odom and Baytania Newman. They closed the gap with a 14 to 0 run. Odom and Newman both finished with 17-points each. St. Michaels was led by Ford (15). Roehler and Jones chipped in 12 points and 11 points respectively.
CLOSING COMMENTS — I would like to extend my personal thanks to tournament director and head varsity coach at JFK Coach O’Neill Glenn. He and his entire staff at JFK were very professional and hospitable. The event was well ran with professionalism. He was able to bring in some really good teams, including some out of town heavyweights. The gym was packed with college coaches and fans. By the way, the food was excellent.