Downtowners play their own version of March Madness
In the first game of an evening of tournament basketball in the Manhattan Youth league, the Celtics perpetuated their undefeated streak by beating the Blazers in an exciting game that unfortunately resulted in a fractured wrist for the Blazers’ Brody Sharoff. In the next game, the Nets overtook the Kings 43-32 last Friday in the sixth and seventh grade division.
The final game was the most colorful, as the Suns (yellow) found themselves down two players, and borrowed Matthew Weldon of the Celtics (green), Kyle Goldfarb of the Blazers (blue) and Douglass Stapler of the Kings (black). To add to the confusion, Alec Tullock of the 76ers (white) played in a red shirt. But only the Suns saw red as Tullock started the game with a three-pointer, and ended up scoring a season-high 21 points for his team.
Weldon put the Suns on the board for two. Graham “King of Steals” Nelson kept the ball near the 76ers basket, determined to repeat his tenacious performance of the week before. But Greg Mack of the Suns bounced a beauty off the backboard to bring the score to 5-4. Tyler Rohan made what would be akin to hitting for the cycle in baseball when he stole the ball, tenaciously grabbed his own rebound in traffic and coolly kissed the ball off the glass for the score. His friend Tyler Adams answered with his own basket, but the 76ers’ Mack Velle and Justin Wenig each scored, and at the end of the first quarter, the 76ers held the lead 11-6.
Mack made it look easy with a fine basket (and five rebounds so far) for the Suns in the beginning of the second, and Stapler’s three-pointer tied it at 11. Velle’s rebound put the 76ers ahead again, and teammate Rohan’s free-throw made it 14-11. Adams played tough defense, implementing a full court press on his own, and scoring another for the Suns. Rohan was fouled again and added another point, but when Stapler sunk another three-pointer, the Suns took the lead for the first time, and at the end of the half, the score was 18-15 Suns.
Rohan was fouled again, and sunk the first free throw. Teammate Tullock grabbed the rebound of the second shot, and the 76ers pulled in front again. Wenig added a beauty from the side, despite great defense and effortless rebounds from Weldon. Nelson fiercely batted the ball away from the Suns, and made a great pass to Velle for another 76ers basket. Tullock, despite cries from Coach Lamont Williams on the sidelines to play less selfish basketball, decided to take matters into his own hands as he leap-frogged through the key, stopped, spun and popped for an exciting 2 points to take the 76ers score up to 29. Stapler was responsible for the next Suns’ turnover, passing it to Adams under the basket, who brought the Suns to 25 at the end of the third quarter.
Rohan drove to start off the fourth, passing to Nelson, whose dogged perseverance was noted by many. Wenig sunk the rebound, and it was 31-25, 76ers. Goldfarb, Stapler and Adams answered with three more hoops for the Suns, but consecutive field goals from Wenig, Tullock, Nelson and Velle brought the final score 44-31 for the 76ers. As the game came to a close there were several wild end-to-end fast breaks, passes and shots. Tyler Adams found this so amusing that he decided to lay flat on his stomach at center court and laugh out loud. Despite his team ending up on the short end, Adams said, “This was the funnest game of the year. It was so crazy at the end I just had to laugh.”
Manhattan Youth basketball trophies were awarded to all players on Sunday, March 21, prior to a spirited game between the coaches. The final tournament games for the 6th and 7th grade boys will be played at P.S. 89 on Friday, March 26th, starting at 6 p.m.