NIKE/IS8 SPRING 2022
TEAM LONG ISLAND ELIMINATED IN ROUND OF 16
We're proud to say we continued to demonstrate that Long Island’s best can play with anybody, advancing out of our pool and into the Championship Round of a very stacked IS8 for the 9th straight tournament, but unfortunately, fell short of our goal of becoming the first team of Long Islanders to ever win it. I honestly think this year’s team had the talent to do it, but we just couldn't overcome some unanticipated obstacles. The biggest was the COVID related delay that pushed back the start of the season by almost a full month and caused unexpected conflicts that left us shorthanded for EVERY ONE OF OUR GAMES! Of the 20 players on our roster, only one played in all 5 games, and our biggest strength, our very powerful and deep three-point shooting attack, was never all together at a single game! That's tough to overcome, but we did just that in pool play. COVID impacted us in another important way too. Normally our spring team has a core of committed seniors for whom AAU obligations are no longer a factor, but that was not the case this year. With the extra years of eligibility college players received to make up for games lost due to COVID, and the restructured transfer portal, which gave colleges the option of filling openings with battle tested college players, opportunities for this talented senior class were significantly reduced this season. That kept many of them out on the AAU circuit and faced with the same conflicts as the underclassmen. Thankfully, the depth of talent on Long Island kept us competitive. Yes, it was an unusual season to say the least, but it looks like things should be back to normal next year and thankfully, we will have an outstanding group of rising juniors and seniors to lead us. That being said, we had many impressive performances this spring that deserve special recognition.
In alphabetical order:
DeAndre Blagrove, 6’4 Sr. He was our Charles Oakley - an unstoppable force that posted double-digit rebounding numbers, played lockdown defense, and made sure we were never dominated inside. He's the kind of player that inspires his teammates and the kind of player every good team has to have. Unfortunately for us, he got hurt and was not available in the playoffs.
Kamren Denhart, 6’0 Sr. On the fall team, we utilized Kam as a defensive specialist and someone that could take the ball to the basket when our outside shots weren’t falling, and he did that well, but he stepped up big time in the spring when our starting point guard went down with an injury and his back-up was a no show. He skillfully ran the offense, continued his strong defensive play, and knocked down big shots when the situation called for it.
Matt Garside, 6’3 Jr. Matt is the prototypical modern day shooting guard. Capable of creating his own shot and of knocking down one contested three pointer after another, he can also take the ball to the basket, moves the ball well, and plays tough D. He had 34 points in a big pool game, and 17 in the win that clinched our spot in the playoffs. Unfortunately, he had a conflict on playoff weekend and was unable to join us in the Championship round.
Michael Gitts, 6’1 Jr. Mike is one of those players that quietly and consistently puts up good numbers. Also a deadly three point shooter, he rebounds well, moves the ball well, and is a fundamentally sound defender. He had a big 19 point pool game and averaged double digits, but he too missed the playoffs due to AAU commitments.
Rashad Key, 6’4 Sr. Rashad is another player that quietly and consistently puts up good numbers. He averaged double digit points, had excellent assist and rebound numbers, and was an excellent defender too. He is the kind of player it's hard to take off the floor.
Zatai Townsend, 6’1 Sr. Zatai was not only our leading scorer before he got hurt, but also a great distributor and defender, and another one of our impressive three point shooters. He did make it back for the playoffs but wasn't 100%.
Nick Watts, 6’7 Sr. Nick was the one player that played in all five of our games and was without a doubt the backbone of the team. He could be counted on to score, defend, rebound, and block shots every game and his evolving talent as a three point shooter made him very dangerous. The ultimate team player, he had an 18 point game to help us clinch our spot in the playoffs and averaged double digit points and rebounds.
CJ Williams, 6’8 Jr. A talented football player with a bright future in that sport, he is big, strong, and surprisingly fast, and those qualities, plus a soft shooting touch, give him a future in basketball too if he wants one. It took him a few games to adjust to the elite level of talent at IS8, but by playoff time, he was a dominant force around the basket, picking up a big double-double in our final game with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
My sincere thanks to all our players and parents!
TEAM LONG FINISHES POOL PLAY 3-1 TO EARN
8th SEED IN 18 TEAM PLAYOFF
Team Long Island won their third straight game at the famous NIKE/IS8 Tournament, with Northport's Nick Watts leading the way with 18 points, Kings Park's Matt Garside finishing with 17, Sewanhaka's Kamren Denhart, the Alzheimer's Game MVP, running the point with great skill and racking up 13 points and 6 assists, and the very consistent Mike Gitz from Commack adding 12 points. The win qualifies them for the prestigious NIKE/IS8 Championship Playoffs, and they will open the playoffs with a 10am game at the IS8 main gym this Saturday. Elite 8 games are later that day, and the Final Four and Championship Game are the weekend of June 4th/5th.
TEAM LONG ISLAND IMPROVES TO 2-1 AT IS8
Team Long Island has its best three-point shooting team ever this season, and used 19 three pointers to upset a very highly regarded team from Philly. The win put them one win away from clinching a spot in the NIKE/IS8 Championship Round for the 9th straight time. Kings Park's Matt Garside led the way, exploding for 34 points, Brentwood's Zatai Townsend was his relentless self, racking up 27, and Commack's Mike Gitz efficiently added 19. Forwards Nick Watts from Northport, CJ Williams from Friends Academy, and DeAndre Blagrove from Malverne all did excellent work on the boards and defensively against another big, athletic front line. Sewanhaka's Kamren Denhart and Townsend led the defensive charge, hounding ball handlers baseline to baseline, and last minute replacements Jakkai Stith from Hempstead and Jimmy O'Connell from Wheatley filled in like they had played on the team all season long, smoothly adjusting and playing important minutes. Next game this Saturday 12:30 PM at IS8.
NOW 1-1 at NIKE/IS8
After opening the season with a tough loss, giving up a 4th quarter lead and wasting big games from Northport’s Nick Watts and Brentwood’s Zatai Townsend, Team Long Island bounced back with a good win. They led pretty much wire to wire, with Copiague’s Rashad Kee and Townsend leading the way, playing excellent D and finishing with 14 points a piece. Malverne's DeAndre Blagrove provided an important physical presence underneath, scoring 6 hard fought points, pulling down 10 rebounds, and playing excellent defense against a D1 level opponent, and Watts added 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks and knocked down two big three pointers to help build the lead. They were both key in holding Jahmere Tripp from Our Savior Lutheran, who has offers from Penn State, Temple, Iona and others, to just 11 points. Hauppauge’s Macai John also made an important contribution with 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks despite playing hurt. Ryan Weiss, Matt Garside, and Michael Gitz all played well despite having rare off nights from behind the arc. Weiss rebounded well and had 8 big second half points on basket cuts and pull-up jumpers, Garside spelled Townsend at the point and did a good job, rebounding well too, and finished with 5, and Gitz did a little bit of everything well and also finished with 5!
A great team effort! Next game 5/8 at 11:15
Blackwell Commits to D1 McNeese St
Team Long Island had 11 players on D1 college rosters last season, and you can add Baldwin’s Rhyjon Blackwell to that list next season. Blackwell teamed with Malik Edmead, another one of Team Long Island’s D1 players, to form an outstanding backcourt that was relentless on both sides of the ball and haunted every opponent we played. He will be a big addition to the Southland Conference team.
Watts to U Pitt-Johnstown
My first thought is that Nick is probably a D1 caliber player, but spots are scarce for high school seniors because extra years of the eligibility that were awarded to college players to make up for games lost to COVID and because the new wide open transfer portal makes a pool of experienced college players immediately available to every team. He can’t go wrong going to this excellent D2 program.
Two From The Fall Team Commit
Baldwin's Jamir Stewart to John Jay and
Jacob Oka to SUNY- Brockport