Contests & pick-up games end B-ballers season
Only about a dozen players arrived at the 6 p.m. start time for Lamont Williams’ basketball boot camp on Friday, but they were willing participants in a number of drills and contests he devised for their entertainment to close out Manhattan Youth’s basketball league season. Players in the sixth and seventh grade division raced against the clock, dribbling through cones, shooting foul shots and ending with lay-ups. Sasha Sanon (Celtics) and Carlton Esdaile (Blazers) had the fastest times, with Sanon winning the run-off. Kephra Stone (Nets) led the three-point contest with 10 in two minutes, followed by Tyler Rohan (76ers) and Doug Stapler (Kings) with 8.
Then the rest of the Celtics and Nets arrived, hoping to compete in the final match of the tournament. Their hopes were dashed, however, when it became apparent that only two other Nets, Dario and Mateo Flores, were able to join their teammate Stone. Though the Celtics (who had lost only one game in regular season, and were undefeated in tournament play) had six, including Trevor, Sanon, Greg Elefterakis, Truman Dunn and Jake Jiler, Lamont made the quick decision to divide all the players in an exciting and spirited game.
Captain Porcaro chose for the White (away) team, and Captain Stone for the Blue, and the game was so evenly matched that the score was tied 17 all with only 2:19 left in the first quarter. By the time the quarter ended, Blue took the lead for the first time in the game, 22-21.
In the second quarter, Blue held the lead until Matthew Weldon (Blazers, despite last week’s article placing him on the Celtics) scored and brought White ahead again. Stapler’s skyhook held the lead for White, but Carlton Esdaile’s bucket brought Blue a little closer. Teammate Mateo brought Blue in the lead again, and the seesaw action continued when his brother Dario’s great pass to Jiler resulted in a two-pointer. Niall Gallagher (Blazers) put Blue in the lead again, and teammate Dunn scored with 8 seconds left in the half, keeping Blue in the lead with 36 to White’s 33 at the whistle.
The second half was full of great passing and scoring by both teams; in fact, every member of the Blue team scored at least one basket, starting with a great move and field goal by Max Ripps (76ers) to give Blue its greatest lead of the game. Elefterakis narrowed it by three with an awesome shot for White, though, and teammate Weldon evened it at 40 before Blue could bat an eye. But Esdaile worked his magic again, sinking a three-pointer and tipping the scales to Blue. Stapler’s perseverance paid off and his field goal attempt kissed the net for the first of his nine points. Teammate Ben Karam added another two for the White team, putting them in the lead again. Teammate Dario scored from the back corner for the first two of his eight points, and when Stapler scored with five seconds left in the quarter, White had a secure lead of 54-45.
Stapler kept it going in the fourth for White with another field goal. Sanon made an awesome pass from the ground to Gallagher, who augmented his team-high point total of 13, but Blue remained behind. Will Merrill (Kings) made his fourth of five baskets and pushed White even further in the lead. Teammate Jiler made his fourth of four baskets for White, and what was once a close game started to fall apart for the Blue team. The high field goal percentages of Weldon (16 points, a game high), Porcaro (10 points, including two three-pointers), Elefterakis (13 points), Stapler (9 points), Dario (6 points), Jiler (8 points), Merrill (10 points), plus the defensive moves of Tyler Adams, proved too much for the Blue team. But Blue fans witnessed fancy ball-handling by Mekhi Simmons, plus three-pointers from Jake Cook (Blazers), formidable defense by Rohan (76ers, five points) and Ripps (76ers, four points), multiple rebounds by Mateo (4 points), and steals by Stone (4 points).
At the end of the night, many thanked Manhattan Youth’s tireless Lamont Williams for a spirited season.