I went over to Port Chester again last night for the CYP semifinals and have a fair amount to share. Let’s hit each topic bullet-point style:
• Tonight’s final between Frenji and the Roadrunners is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Our Lady of Mercy.
• Frenji beat the Falcons 98-91. Five players were in double figures for Frenji: Jayvaughn Pinkston of Bishop Loughlin/Villanova (24 points), Jabarie Hinds (19, pictured in black above), Davon Collier of St. Anthony’s/Oregon State (18), Russell Smith of South Kent/Louisville (11) and Kadeem Jack of Rice/undecided (11). Tyshon Pickett of Passaic High School led the Falcons with 23, but two local guys with local ties were impressive: Old Tappan’s Shane McLaughlin had 13 and Mark Richards of Bergen Catholic scored eight.
• Richards is truly the “one that got away” for Tappan Zee. The Orangeburg resident went to TZ as a freshman but transferred to Bergen Catholic where he started the last two seasons. He’s a 6-foot-5 athletic wing player who would’ve added some size, athleticism and scoring to the Class A champ. In short, he’s exactly what they needed to keep winning. The best part? Richards is just a junior. He’s already received interest from Rutgers and Columbia, among others.
• The Roadrunners beat the Gauchos 90-85 in OT. The New Jersey-based team won a dramatic semifinal that featured two buckets in the final nine seconds of regulation to extend the game to OT. Duke-bound Kyrie Irving scored 37 points for the Roadrunners, following up a 31 and 28-point game earlier in the tournament. I don’t know that he’s another Jay Williams but he’d certainly be the best player in New York State. He touch on pullups is Williamsesque.
• Bye, bye all-Americans. Sounds like a great primetime matchup between two all-Americans, right? Well, both Irving and Pinkston are scheduled to fly to Columbus today for the McDonald’s Game, which is Wednesday. Neither are expected to meet tonight. It would have been especially fun to see how Hinds matched up with Irving.
• Hinds has a great opportunity tonight. If you saw Frenji’s last two games and did not know the names and resumes of the players, Hinds was the best player on the court, particularly last night. He proved he could score like the others, but he also sets up others and plays defense, which sets him apart. In today’s story, Tom Sampogna of Frenji discussed what he told Hinds last night: “He’s special. He’s got the ‘it’ factor. He has a high basketball IQ. I told him, there’s a select group of juniors that make their mark in this tournament. He has that opportunity now to put his stamp in the book.”
• Last night was LoHud-lite. If you remove Richards and McLaughlin, who have Rockland roots, the impact of local players outside of Hinds was marginal last night. Iona Prep’s Brian Voelkel and Jordon Bronner had their moments but played limited minutes. Teammate Sandro Carissimo’s shot was off and he was held to just three points for the Gauchos. Plus, I don’t know the exact reason, but Peekskill’s Daquan Brickhouse and Kenny Bradshaw and Stepinac’s Conroy Baltimore were no-shows for the semis for Frenji. I’ll let you speculate as to why.
One player I felt great for was Pearl River’s Luke Houston (right, in white). He was easily the smallest and youngest-looking guy at the CYP this week, so when he took the floor in the second quarter for the Falcons a few fans in the crowd snickered. A couple minutes later Houston slipped open and drained a 3. Then he grabbed a rebound on a missed free throw. He made another shot in the second half and — outside of one or two late turnovers — never took one thing off the table in his limited minutes. Maybe next time they’ll be smart enough to leave the snickering at home.