Bishop Hendricken 61
Mount Vernon 57
You could tell right away that the two teams that walked out onto the beautiful Gus Alfieri court at St. Anthony would live up to the outstanding reputations of their programs. Athletic, aggressive, and well coached, and given the freedom to play by the officials, they went at it right from the start of what would be a great game. Mount Vernon got off first, leading 6-2 after Troy Hupstead's nice give and go fast break basket, and 8-4 after Orlando Dawkins scored from underneath, but Helio Sousa sparked his teammates, out battling the bigs in a crowded lane for a rebound and basket at close range, and then Andre Delosantos followed him with a reverse layup and Bishop Hendricken was up 10-9. A fastbreak basket by Sebastian Thomas pushed the advantage to 16-11 and a Delosantos right baseline three made it 19-13, but Julius Cobb's buzzer beater cut it 19-15 with one quarter complete. The teams traded baskets to start the second quarter, but Charles Lovett's drive from the left wing brought Mount Vernon back within 2 and Sebastian Daley's fast break basket tied it at 28 with 2:58 to go in the half. The Knights took the lead on a Dawkins jump hook with 39 seconds remaining, but the Hawks responded in spectacular fashion, chasing down a loose ball headed out of bounds at mid court and throwing a behind the back strike to Delosantos, who layed it in to give Bishop Hendricken a 31-30 lead at the half. The third quarter was classic back and forth action, with the teams trading baskets and the lead the whole way, but as the clock ticked down, the Knights eased ahead on Lovett's baseline runner, and then his touchdown pass fast break basket made it 44-41 Mount Vernon with three quarters complete. The Knights nudged the lead to 4 early in the 4th on a Nigel Harris fast break basket, but a Thomas left wing three cut it to 1 and a Delosantos three point play put Rhode Island back in front 50-48. Mount Vernon answered right away, scoring on a quick steal and basket by Hupstead and a fast break basket by Lovett to go up by 2 at the 5:06 mark, but Tyriek Weeks countered with a left wing 3 and it was Bishop Hendricken by 1. Harris continued the back and forth, recapturing the lead for the Knights with a pull-up jumper from the left side, and the lead changes continued with a Thomas fast break basket, but the Hawks’ Bobby Fiorito tacked on two free throws to give them a 3 point advantage with 3:03 remaining. After back and forth turnovers, Lovett narrowed the gap with two big free throws to bring Mount Vernon back within 1 with 2:02 showing, and the Knights had possession trailing by 1 after the Hawks missed the front end of a 1 and 1, but they couldn’t convert and Bishop Hendricken got out on the break and drew a foul with 1:07 left. Fiorito knocked two more big shots to make it 59-56, but the Knights drew a foul going the other way and went to the line with a chance to put points on the board without using any of the 32 seconds remaining. They hit their first shot, and although they missed the second, it looked like they had the offensive rebound, with a chance to tie or take the lead. Instead, they lost control of it and Hendricken called time up 2 and with the ball. When play resumed, an immediate foul put the Hawks at the line, but they could not put the game away, going 1 for 2 to make it a 3 point game with 19 seconds remaining. With the door still open, the Knights came down court looking to send the game into OT, and they had plenty of time to do it, but they never got a shot off, committing a crucial turnover in the final seconds to seal their fate.
St. Joseph's, Metuchen, NJ 58
St. Anthony's 55
Even a CHSAA State Semifinalist has trepidation going into a big game against an unknown and high profile opponent, but the young and talented Friars, who graduated the bulk of their scoring from last year’s NSCHSAA Championship team, quickly discovered they could play with the Falcons from New Jersey. Junior Andre Snoody, who was an important player off the bench last season and looks bigger and stronger this year, got St. Anthony’s off to a good start, scoring 6 of the Friars 13 first quarter points. That was good for a 1 point lead at the first quarter buzzer, and set the tone for what would be a tight and exciting game the rest of the way. The Friars built an early 4 point second quarter advantage, with Tristen Correa, Christian Daley, and Makhai Murphey all pitching in, but Jack Haggerty and Luke Freso led a closing run that put the Falcons up by 4 at intermission. The third quarter was a dead heat, with Jevon Burke and Luke Rossi both hitting threes for the Friars, but a balanced attack led by Fresco and Matt Cruse kept pace and that 4 point margin held up heading into the fourth. Rossi and Burke kept working hard to close the gap, with Rossi knocking down two big three pointers and Burke a big three and another big basket, and they and their teammates hounded St. Joe’s defensively, taking a late lead, but Howard McBurnie stepped up big time for the Hawks, scoring 8 of their 15 fourth quarter points to hold off St. Anthony’s and close out an excellent first day of the showcase. McBurnie finished with 14 points for St. Joe's and Fresco with 12, while Snoody led the Friars with 14, Burke added 12, and Rossi 10.
St. Joseph's, Metuchen, NJ 57
Sprinting to the rim for three easy layups, the Falcons of St. Joe’s threatened to run away with this game early. Luke Fresco had two of the easy buckets, and it appeared the Firebirds of Kellenberg were unaccustomed to the athleticism of their opponents, getting beaten to their spots, finding themselves covered after running their sets, and getting their shots blocked. 6’6 Nick Spinoso kept them in the game, scoring 6 first quarter points through constant double teams, and he did a nice job of firing full court outlet passes to relieve some of the pressure. It was 15-9 Falcons after one, and they extended it to 20-10 on a nice alley oop feed from Jack Fogerty to Fresco to start the second. Their half court man defense continued to be stingy and Spinoso felt defenders on each shoulder every time he touched the ball down low, but Kellenberg kept pace and it was St. Joe's 27-20 at the half. The Firebirds had made some adjustments, and in the second half, things changed, and dramatically! Kellenberg surprised the Falcons with full court pressure and surged to a 28-27 lead in two quick minutes. A seesaw battle ensued from there, with Spinoso in a scoring groove and Fresco keeping his crew close with two timely steals and finishes. It was 37 ALL at the 4:16 mark of the third, but Matt Cruz and Fresco both knocked down threes to close out the quarter, and St. Joe's took a 43-37 lead with three quarters complete. Cruz opened the the fourth with another three, but Spinoso rallied Kellenberg, bringing them back within 2 at the 5:16 mark of the 4th by attacking the basket and either scoring or drawing a foul, but the Falcon defense reasserted itself, limiting the Firebirds to 6 points the rest of the quarter and they pulled away from there. Fresco ( 20 pts.) and Howard McBurnie (14pts.) combined for 34 for the Falcons, while Spinoso ( 24pts./15rbs.) led Kellenberg with help from Sean Lachman (14pts.). Congrats to St. Joseph’s Head Coach Mike Thompson and his team.
St. Anthony's 53
Newburgh Free Academy 49
NFA’s first game of the showcase was the final one, and they and the Friars concluded the event with another barn-burner. The Goldbacks (a kind of eagle) grabbed the early lead thanks to their defense, holding St. Anthony’s to just 7 first quarter points - all by Andre Snoody, but the paced picked up in the second quarter and sophomore Luke Rossi caught fire, scoring 8 points to rally the Friars to a 25-25 tie at the half. Newburgh took control again in the third quarter and on both sides of the ball, stifling St. Anthony’s to the tune of 9 third quarter points, while Caleb Simmons put 10 on the board all by himself, giving the Goldbacks an 8 point advantage with three quarters in the books. The tide turned dramatically in the fourth. It was the Friars that played lock down defense, and offensively, senior Jevon Burks stepped up, scoring all 9 of his points in the quarter. Snoody had 7 and it all added up to a dramatic St. Anthony’s come from behind victory.
Luke Fresco, St. Joseph’s
Charles Lovett, Mount Vernon
Andre Snoody, St. Anthony’s
Caleb Simmons, NFA
Nick Spinoso, Kellenberg
Sebastian Thomas, Bishop Hendricken
The First Annual New York Holiday Invitational has concluded and a great new
Long Island tradition has been born! Every game was a classic! Our sincere thanks to St. Anthony's HS for an outstanding job hosting the event, USA Today, Newsday, NJ.com, MaxPreps, and of course LongIslandBasketball.com for covering it, and a very special special thanks to the players, who played their hearts out and made this the most competitive four game event we've ever seen, and to the coaches, who showed that behind every great program is a great coach!
Thanks and Happy New Year everybody!
- Ted Thomas