Tonight I headed to Port Chester to check out the opening game of the CYP tournament. Here is my story:
PORT CHESTER Damarcus Miller remembers going to the CYP boys basketball tournament with his cousin Rashiem Young as a sixth-grader. Miller recalled exactly where he sat as he watched future Division I basketball stars like White Plains’ Sean Kilpatrick, now at Cincinnati, and Russ Smith, currently at Louisville, battle it out on the tiny Our Lady of Mercy court.
“I’m like, ‘wow,’ ” Miller said. “Can’t wait to get older and play here.”
Five years later, Miller, now a sophomore at Stepinac, would once again get a call about going to the CYP tournament from his cousin. This time, however, it was to come as a participant.
“It was a great opportunity to play out here,” said Miller, who played for the Port Chester Savages. “It’s good competition, and you have fun.”
In it’s 67th year, CYP, which is officially known as the William R. Gallagher Tournament, opened Thursday night. The 12-team tournament will run until Tuesday, with all games taking place at Our Lady of Mercy.
While the Savages fell to the BC Eagles 102-85 in the first round, Miller was still able to fulfill a childhood dream.
“At first I was a little nervous in the first half,” said Miller, whose 11 points all came in the second half. “Then I was like, this is regular ball like I’m playing for Stepinac. Just like playing high school ball at a faster pace on a smaller court.”
Half-court offenses are nonexistent in the small Port Chester gym, as teams race up and down the court lined with fans. Spectators are literally inches from players on both sidelines.
The tight quarters didn’t bother New Rochelle’s Derek Dorn, who also played for Port Chester.
“It’s a small court, but I like it,” said Dorn, who had nine points. “It’s like we’re all caved in. We get to see who wants it more.”
When asked about how he felt playing an up-tempo style, Dorn’s face lit up.
“I’m a guard so I like playing at a fast pace,” Dorn said. “It didn’t bother me at all.”
Iona Prep’s Matt Ryan (15 points) and New Rochelle’s Khalil Edney (11 points) also played for the Savages. Masters’ Michael Jurzynski (eight points) played for the Eagles, a team made up mostly of Section 9 players.
For Edney, the tournament was a nice way to wrap up his senior season.
“Coming here and balling and having fun,” Edney said. “Playing different people I haven’t played all year.”
For younger players like Miller and Dorn though, the tournament provided a chance to be seen. The tournament is the unofficial start to the AAU basketball season.
“I just wanted to come here and showcase my talent,” Miller said. “It felt good just to get my feet wet.”