The first Slam Dunk championship was handed out last night. And it went to an unlikely recipient.
North Rockland followed up its upset win of Long Island Lutheran by knocking off White Plains 59-43 in the final. The Red Raiders went on a 22-2 run from the final minutes of the third quarter and into the fourth.
John Perez earned MVP honors with 19 points, 14 of which came in the second half. Perez was a force in the paint during the second-half rally, and Jorge Cruz added eight of his 16 points in the stretch.
Huge win for North Rockland. By taking the tournament title, it officially establishes itself back as one of the elite teams in Class AA.
In the consolation, Stepinac pulled off a dramatic overtime win over Long Island Lutheran. Despite losing Conroy Baltimore in the final minute of regulation with fouls, Kadeem Francis carried the Crusaders in OT, scoring the final four points.
No team needed a win this weekend more than Stepinac, which had been floundering the past two weeks after a strong start. It hasn’t shot the ball well at all but you have to imagine the averages will figure their way out.
Pleasantville defeated Edgemont in the challenge game in the early afternoon. Pleasantville led by three at the half before blowing the game open in the first four minutes of the third quarter to improve to 7-0.
The first two days of Slam Dunk didn’t exactly feature stellar basketball. The shooting percentages were under 35-percent and the most points any boys team had at halftime of a game was 23 by Pleasantville (the Nanuet girls had 31 in Saturday).
The five teams that won this weekend averaged only 19.6 points at halftime.