Written by: Tippy McTernan
The 2008 fall season of the Funsport Junior Pros reaches its final stage this weekend with a two-day Championship and All-Star Weekend at Jefferson High School in Brooklyn.
On Saturday, 12/20, the quarterfinals will take place among the eight teams remaining from the original field of 24 of the top junior high school-age programs in the metropolitan New York area. The action gets underway at 12 noon with three undefeated teams (Panthers, Gauchos and Brooklyn Ballers-A) looking to continue their march to the CHIP. Also in the Elite Eight are C-3 Elite, Brooklyn USA-1, New Heights-Blue, Team X-cel and the NJ Pirates.
The following day (Sunday, 12/21, 12 noon) will feature the Junior Pros Semifinals and Championship games, as well as separate All-Star games for 7th-graders and 8th-graders. In addition, the All-Tournament and All-Academic honorees for the fall season will be announced. The day's events will give our fans, parents and high school coaches one more look at the top performers of the past Junior Pros season as well as a preview of the student-athletes who will emerge on the high school scene over the next four years.
The biggest surprise of last week's first-round playoff results was Team X-cel's last-second win over previously-unbeaten Starrett City. X-cel, trailing 59-58 with 12.2 seconds left, was looking for at least a tie when Malachi Huskins stepped to the free throw line for two shots. But Huskins, who earlier had connected from past halfcourt to beat the halftime buzzer, missed both shots this time and X-cel's season appeared over. However, Starrett failed to run out the clock and X-cel's Dwayne Carroll made a huge steal and hit Terrell Williams for a layup to lift X-cel to a sudden 60-59 victory. Isacha Tucker, whose early three-point shooting set the tone for X-cel, led the winners with 15 points. Starrett, eliminated quickly after a 5-0 regular-season, had four double-digit scorers: Thomas Holley (16 points, 8 rebounds) and Chancellor Ellis (15 points), Timothy Quashie (13 points, 11 rebounds) and Michael Williams (13 points).
In the only overtime contest of the first round, C-3 Elite edged the LI Lightning 35-34 on a free throw by Austin Williams with 3.9 seconds remaining in the extra session. The Lightning, behind Jonathan Severe (game-highs of 16 points and 10 rebounds), led through the first three quarters but managed just 2 points in the final quarter and OT. Chris Regus sparked the C-3 rally with 11 points and 6 rebounds.
Three teams will carry unbeaten 6-0 marks into the quarterfinal round: the Brooklyn Ballers-A overcame an early 7-0 deficit to down New Heights-Red 51-43, led by Terrance Samuels (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Alick Ashley (14 points). New Heights countered with 19 points from Eli Davis and 14 points with 16 boards from David Henry. . . The Gauchos placed nine players in the scoring column, topped by Taquan Givens (9 points), in a 48-26 triumph over the NY Patriots. . . Bryson Lassiter scored 21 points and Chijoki Ajuka added 17 points and 13 rebounds as the Panthers coasted past the Wildcats 80-22.
Also advancing to the Junior Pros Elite Eight were: NJ Pirates (60-48 victors over the Assassins), New Heights-Blue (52-25 over the Brooklyn Rams) and Brooklyn USA-1 (48-44 over Team Underrated). . . Stephen McNair dropped a first-round high of 27 points and Will Joyce grabbed 14 rebounds for the Pirates in the win over the Assassins, which received a team-high 17 points and 4 assists from Ethan Telfair. . . Kindell Kinloch led New Heights-Blue with 11 points and 9 rebounds followed by Chris Myers with 10 points. . . Brooklyn USA received 12 points and 8 rebounds from Gabriel Calderon, and 11 points from George Moody, to offset the double-double performance of Underrated's Tighe Oberg (12 points, 12 rebounds).