CHECK THIS LINK FOR PHOTOS OF PREVIOUS WEEK
The much-anticipated regular season of the Funsport Junior Pros gets underway this weekend following three weeks of preseason workouts and scrimmages. Of the 38 teams that participated in the preseason activities, 24 were selected to compete for the ultimate goal: a spot in the Junior Pros championship game on January 2nd at Madison Square Garden.
The regular season promises to be a very competitive and intense display of the region’s top middle-school talent, as several teams are viewed as serious contenders to succeed last year’s champion Starrett City, which did not return to defend its title. The NJ Pirates, last season’s other MSG finalists, are back but they will be facing a far-deeper talent level this time around, with several nationally-ranked players and teams across the four pools beginning pool play this weekend.
Last weekend’s final preseason scrimmages were a last tuneup for some teams, but a “last chance” for several others that were seeking to impress the selection committee to get a regular season invite.
The Philadelphia Youth Organization, behind 6-8 Horace Spencer, clinched a spot in the regular season lineup by splitting a pair of one-point decisions. Spencer scored 20 points (on 10-of-15 shooting) with 14 rebounds and 5 blocks, but missed a potential game-winning tip-in at the buzzer of a 32-31 loss to Above and Beyond. He bounced back with another double-double effort (20 points, 10 rebounds) as PYO edged the LI Lightning-7th 34-33. Jermain Nelson knocked down 3-of-4 threes and scored 11 points to lead the Lightning, which earlier secured their spot with a 33-32 overtime win over New Heights-Kimani. Neo Boone scored 10 point and Cody Tucker grabbed 11 boards in the upset win.
In another game played with playoff intensity as both teams were on the regular season “bubble”, Donovan Dunham sank 1-of-2 free throws with 13.5 seconds left to lift the Brooklyn Kings to a 32-31 decision over Albany-Capital District. Albany had taken a 25-18 halftime advantage, thanks to a 15-2 run that featured two threes from Brian Brooks, who scored 10 of his game-high 16 points in the first half. Vincenzo Simmons topped the Kings with 10 points.
Next Level dropped a pair of “bubble” games to miss the regular season cut. First they blew a late 7-point lead, falling to the On Point Cyclones 46-41. Sebastian Cordoba connected on a three-point play to put the Cyclones ahead for good at 39-38 with 3:28 left and Ryan Kennedy clinched it with a straightway three-pointer with 41 seconds remaining that made it 44-40. Billy Avent topped the Cyclones with 16 points and 10 boards while Rafim Mustapha scored 13 points and Curtis Smith had 12 for Next Level. In the second game, Eric Kramer (10 points) nailed a turnaround jumper with 7:23 left, sparking a 13-4 run, to lift the Bounce 518 All-Stars to a 52-44 win over Next Level. Jaheim Page topped Bounce with 12 points while Tyler Bourne added 7 points and 7 assists, including a long three-pointer during the decisive rally. Mustapha again had the high for Next Level with 12 points. On-Point Cyclones and Bounce 518 All-Stars were both selected for the regular season.
Other preseason game briefs: Cheyenne Nettleton had two treys among his 19 points, carrying Positive Direction/Big Game to a 33-21 triumph over LI Lightning-8th. . . The Gauchos-Elite ran away from the NY Tigers-8th 43-16. Mustapha Heron and Nyrhique Smith shared game-high honors with 13 points apiece for the winners. . . The NJ Pirates downed Bounce 518 All-Stars 43-28 behind Shakur Juiston’s 17 points and 8 boards. Theo Slepski led Bounce with 10 points. . . Gauchos-Science held off Lloyd Daniels’ Rebels 36-35 when the Rebels’ Adam Perry missed a free throw in the final seconds. . . Jesse Govan recorded 23 points and 12 rebounds to power the LI Lightning-8th past Team Underrated 31-24. . . FYA topped Lloyd Daniels’ Rebels 52-33 with another strong outing by Jamie Killings (16 points, 5 steals). . . Zach Boczar and Marquise Irizarry dropped 18 points apiece as New Heights-Stanley rolled over the NY Tigers-7th 71-28. . . New Heights-Stanley then used an 11-2 run early in the second half to post a 49-34 victory over Variety B&G Club, which received game-highs of 16 points and 11 rebounds from Travis Atson. . . Chase Rodgers scored 14 points as the Philly Aztecs won 51-19 over Variety B&G Glub, which received 12 points from Travis Atson. . . The Panthers held off Kingdom Elite 42-30 led by Rashond Salnave with 11 points. Robbie Depersia netted a game-high 13 points for Kingdom. . . Kyle Goldford went 4-of-5 from beyond the arc and scored 12 points as New Heights-Smoke rolled over Millbank 41-19 in the final game of the preseason.
SATURDAY, NOV. 6TH (Ronald Edmonds Learning Center 113 – 300 Adelphi Street bet. DeKalb & Lafayette * Brooklyn, NY 11205)
5:30pm: ALBANY DREAM TEAM – WESTCHESTER HAWKS
6:30pm: TEAM FINAL – LI LIGHTNING 8th
7:30pm: ALBANY DREAM TEAM – GAUCHOS ELITE
8:30pm: TEAM FINAL – C3 ELITE
SUNDAY, NOV. 7TH (Ronald Edmonds Learning Center 113 – 300 Adelphi Street bet. DeKalb & Lafayette * Brooklyn, NY 11205)
11am: F.Y.A. – ON POINT
12pm: THE CITY – LLOYD DANIELS’ REBELS
1pm: ABOVE & BEYOND – F.Y.A.
2pm: TEAM SCAN – LI LIGHTNING 7th
3pm: ABOVE & BEYOND – LLOYD DANIELS’ REBELS
4pm: NJ PIRATES – POSITIVE DIRECTION BIG GAME
5pm: TEAM SCAN – GAUCHOS SCIENCE
6pm: NJ PIRATES – C3 ELITE