Day 2 Top Performers:
- Mike L’Africain– Grassroots
- Micqueel Martin-YAAACE
- Jamal Pryce- Next Level
- Well Davis- New Creation
- Raviel Burton- PHASE 1
- Johneil Simpson- PHASE 1
- Tyrell Green- CIA-Bounce
- Ben Davis- Grassroots
- Ryan Augustine- Next Level
- Josh Bell- PHASE 1
- Malcolm Duvivier- CIA-Bounce
- Martin Dixon-Green-Starting 5
- Negus Webster-Chan– Starting 5
GAME 1 – Grass Roots vs. YAAACE
TORONTO,ON–It was a contrast of styles to start the day as the smooth shooting Grass Roots contingent squared off against the intimidating inside attack of YAAACE and the silky outside touch came away victorious 93-83.
Despite the 10-point margin it was a close game throughout with Grass Roots pulling away in the final three minutes.
Off of a Rhaeem Isaac layup, YAAACE trailed 80-77 with 3:55 remaining and looked to be within striking distance but back-to-back three pointers pushed the lead back to nine and Grass Roots wouldn’t look back. The outside shooting was a large part of the attack for Grass Roots, who connected on 11 trifectas in the game compared to only two for YAAACE.
Many of those threes came off the hand of Mike L’Africain who finished with a team-high 18 points with four triples. Leading all scorers was Micqueel Martin who finished with 20 on the afternoon.
For the first three quarters it was neck-in-neck as both teams had their share of the lead. No quarter better exemplified this than the third, where there were seven lead changes between the two clubs and it was a narrow 66-65 edge for YAAACE heading into the fourth -that’s when the outside shooting turned it around.
Unable to keep pace with the gunners on Grass Roots, it was too much too to handle for YAAACE who were relying on their size to score baskets.
A perfect example of the stark difference of approach on the offensive end came in the first quarter where YAAACE scored all but two of its 27 points in the paint or at the free throw while Grass Roots stayed close by knocking down outside shots.
They would continue to shoot it successfully in the second quarter and opened up an 11-point advantage with 2:37 to go in the first half. Grass Roots would’ve pulled away heading into the break, if not for a 6-0 run by YAAACE to close out the second quarter.
The win put Grass Roots at the top of the Pool B standings, while YAAACE faced a win or go home game in its next matchup.
GAME 2 – Next Level Prep Academy vs. New Creation Prep
Both teams entered the day with a loss on its record and both needed to pull out a W if they had any hopes of playing on championship Saturday.
Facing such a situation must have inspired Next Level Prep, as the undermanned squad outgunned New Creation Prep to take the 89-64 decision.
Down the stretch the three-point shooting of Next Level was too much for New Creation to overcome as they couldn’t break the double-digit barrier in the fourth quarter. The three-point disparity was a large factor in the inability to make a game of it, as Next Level drained 12 from the land beyond while New Creation managed only three triples.
Leading the way for Next Level was Jamal Pryce who finished with 22 points, while Wells Davis led all scorers with 24.
Even more impressive than the outside stroke was the fact that Next Level played much of the game shorthanded. With only six players dressed, Next Level managed to ward off fatigue and come away with the win.
Opening the game by taking an early 10-2 lead, Next Level withstood a charge from the team from Indiana, as New Creation stormed back and led by one after the first quarter, 18-17. Heading into halftime it seemed like another close finish was in store as Next Level had managed to regain control and held a 38-35 edge at the break.
That’s when the wheels came undone for New Creation.
A shooting clinic to start the second half put the game out of reach in a hurry as a 12-point margin was opened up heading into the final quarter and would not be squandered.
Securing the win put Next Level in a position to control its own destiny as its next game would come against YAAACE in a winner-takes-all contest with the victor getting a chance to play in the semi-finals. The loss sealed New Creation’s fate as they were eliminated from qualifying for the knockout round.
GAME 3 – PHASE 1 Academy vs. C.I.A. Bounce Academy
The two teams who pulled off the most unexpected wins on Day 1 would be pitted against one another on Day 2 with the winner taking control of a wide open Pool A.
Shocking everyone, once again, was the unheralded PHASE 1 Academy who rode the intensity and emotion running throughout the gym to hand Bounce Academy a 73-64 loss.
There was no comeback needed for PHASE 1 this time around as they held a strong lead heading into the fourth and didn’t let it slip. Though Bounce did manage to cut a once 15-point fourth quarter lead to five with less than two minutes to play, PHASE 1 maintained its composure and handed the ball to their big man, Raviel Burton, to ice the game.
It was Burton’s thunderous and-one slam followed by another and-one layup that kept PHASE 1 ahead, as the lanky centre finished with 21 points going along with an astonishing 10 blocks while teammate Johneil Simpson continued his strong play in the tournament to finish with a team-high 22. Bounce’s Tyrell Green put in a game-high 23.
Throughout the afternoon PHASE 1 established itself by playing tenacious defence. On every shot by Bounce there seemed to be two sets of hands in the shooters face as no attempt was left uncontested. Holding Bounce to 15 points in the third quarter allowed PHASE 1 to take its largest lead of the game into the final frame where it had too much momentum on its side to let slip.
In a game that started with both teams struggling to find the hoop, each had only a single field goal after three minutes, its surprising PHASE 1 came out on top seeing after five minutes they had more air balls then field goals.
Combining for only 19 points in the first quarter was forgettable to say the least, Bounce led 11-8.
However, the shots started to drop and it game began to look like a close contest as there were four lead changes heading into the half with PHASE 1 going on a late run to take a 30-23 edge into the locker room.
They would never look back.
With the win, PHASE 1 claimed top spot in Pool A and will await REDA in its next match while Bounce will wait to see how that contest played out before it even took the floor to decide whether or not it would be playing on Saturday.
GAME 4 – Grass Roots vs. New Creation
Entering this game both teams’ fate was sealed as Grass Roots had clinched a berth into the semi-finals while New Creation was still searching for its first W.
Though a major upset wasn’t to be, the kids from Indiana gave the top seed a run for their money falling 102-96 in an absolute shootout.
Trailing by two to start the fourth, Grass Roots managed to stay close with New Creation until there was only 1:45 to play when they took their first lead, 96-94, since the six minute mark of the third quarter. The lead stood in the final minute when a clutch rebound by Rohan Boney with less than a minute to play forced New Creation to foul, sealing the victory for Grass Roots.
It was an offensive foray for most of the match, as the battle of the 11’s took centre stage.
Highly touted prospect Nik Staukas got off to a blistering start scoring 20 of his 27 points in the first half while William Masse came away with a game-high 31 off of five three-pointers, with 18 coming in the second half.
The lack of defence was something Bounce head coach Anthony Otto felt was severely lacking.
“Honestly, for this game it was a terrible performance, it wasn’t a good representation at all but we’ll take the W,” Otto said. “Tomorrow we definitely need to get stops, you can’t win giving up uncontested shots. That can’t happen tomorrow.”
Coming into the game with no wins in the tournament, New Creation had little else but pride to play for and it certainly did a stand up job doing just that. Trailing for all of the first half, down 58-51 at the break, it was the start of the third quarter that spurred the comeback.
An 11-4 run by New Creation in the first five minutes of the second half got them even with Grass Roots, who seemed complacent with its big lead. It was then Masse would start his three-point assault, scoring 12 points in the quarter to give New Creation a 78-76 edge after three quarters of play.
As effective as Masse was at scoring, New Creation deserves credit for slowing down the smooth shooting Staukas, who had only seven points in the second half. Yet when he could no longer fill it up, Grass Roots turned to Ben Davis who chipped in 25, mixing up his offence inside and outside.
GAME 5 – REDA vs. PHASE 1 Academy
It was a must-win game for REDA if it had any hopes of playing on Saturday and for PHASE 1 the point differential could have meant playing or not in the semi-finals.
Both teams got just that, as REDA came away with the 67-61 victory, while PHASE 1 managed to maintain a point differential to land it in the semis.
Though it was a one-sided affair, the story was the closing minute of the game that saw a seemingly meaningless last-second layup by Josh Bell, who scored a game-high 17, turn into the biggest basket of the game.
The two points Bell scored gave PHASE 1 a one point edge over REDA in the tie breaker to land it an unexpected no.1 seed in Pool A.
“This weekend is the culmination of the hard work we’ve been putting in since October,” PHASE 1 head coach Wayne Dawkins said. “We’ve been going hard six days a week, training, practicing and working to get to this point where what we do on the floor is a reflection of that.
“I think the big thing is my guys understand that talent alone is not going to win basketball games and that’s something I instilled in them and if we rely on talent to win basketball games we’ll go back to losing miserably but a team with hard work can beat a team with talent any day. These guys have really bought into that.”
Though the layup might have landed REDA a date with undefeated Grass Roots, it’s a battle their head coach is willing to accept.
“Our guys step up to challenges, we’ll be ready to play,” REDA head coach Tarry Upshaw said. “I’ve got a pretty good feel of how they’re going to play and with us I think people underestimate us. If we get the W we’re in the finals, that’s been our goal all year, we’re 40 minutes away from our goal and I feel pretty happy about that.”
Though REDA led for most of the way, PHASE 1 managed to keep it close, as there were seven lead changes in the second half before REDA went up with 7:46 remaining and never let the lead slip.
A large part for REDA’s success was its ability to get easy baskets inside the paint, by way of big man Meshack Lufile who finished with a team-high 13 points.
After a sluggish start for both squads, it seemed REDA was going to run away with the game leading by nine with less than five minutes to play in the first half. A 10-2 run by PHASE 1 to close out the second quarter, however, cut the lead to just one at the break, 31-30.
The third quarter would see both teams trade baskets in an end-to-end battle. But it was still the size of REDA that was too much for PHASE 1 to overcome.
Despite the win, REDA was awarded a date with Grass Roots in one of the semi-finals, while PHASE 1 awaited the winner of the next game to see who their opponent would be.
GAME 6 – YAAACE vs. Next Level Prep Academy
It was quite simple for both teams heading into this game-win or go home.
Fuelled by being left out of the action on Saturday, YAAACE outlasted a shorthanded Next Level Prep Academy in a thrilling 80-78 victory.
After entering the fourth quarter with an eight-point lead it gained from a 12-3 run to close out the third, YAAACE allowed Next Level back in the game with its outside shooting, as it took less than three minutes for it to be all even at 66.
At that point both teams traded baskets with neither going up by more than three until YAAACE seemed to ice the game on an Emmanuel Ajayi dunk that pushed the spread to five, 79-74, with 24 seconds to play. Though it seemed to be over, Tyler Scott hit a three on the ensuing play and cut the lead to two, 79-77, and then Micqueel Martin split a pair of free throws giving Next Level one last chance to claim the final semi-final spot.
An errant shot and fumbled rebound led the ball to go out of bounds to YAAACE who then in turn threw the ball away on the inbounds only to see Next Level miss its last-second tying attempt, letting YAAACE off the hook.
How it ever got so close is astonishing considering Next Level was relegated to only five men, as Bikram Gill was lost to injury in the opening quarter.
Behind Ryan Augustine’s game-high 24 points, Next Level nearly pulled off the unthinkable but couldn’t make the baskets when it needed it most. Ajayi led YAAACE with 21 points off the bench.
Though his team nearly squandered a seemingly winnable game head coach Devon Thompson is focused on the light at the end of the tunnel.
“It’s a better showing then last weekend in Pennsylvania, we were really flat [and] went 0-3, [with] two-of-three wins, hopefully we put all our bad games behind us,” said Thompson who went on to explain what it will take for his team to advance against PHASE 1.
“Energy and intensity that’s what we need on defence and to get on the boards, we’ve got to use our height. The guards got to go inside to the big guys a little bit more. I think there’s a little too much guard play, we have an advantage on the inside and we’re not using it and that’s what we’re going to need.”
It was a tight affair from the opening tip as neither team held a double-digit lead at any point and anytime YAAACE seemed to pull ahead Next Level would respond with a run to cut the deficit down to a single possession.
The win puts YAAACE into the semi-finals to face PHASE 1, a team it’s never lost to in three meetings this year in the NPSAA season.
GAME 7 – Starting 5 Academy vs. Bounce
With both teams out of the running for the semi-finals, it was a contest more likened to a glorified pickup game than anything.
It was a tale of two halves but for Starting 5 they would secure the only win of the tournament with a 106-101 win over Bounce.
Starting 5 was led by the two-man tandem of Martin Dixon-Green and Negus Webster-Chan who scored 39 and 21 points respectively.
The second half was completely dominated by Starting 5 who never led at any point in the first half and trailed 49-43 at the break.
It didn’t take long before the floodgates opened to start the third quarter as Starting 5 continuously attacked the basket and capitalized on its size advantage to take care of the smaller Bounce squad.
Surprising the way it turned out, seeing how Bounce dominated the first half by getting out in transition and getting easy buckets. Yet fatigue appeared to set in late and the legs of Bounce were no longer there to close out the game.
Leading the way for Bounce was Malcolm Duvivier who scored a team-high 19 points.