First up, Josh’s story on White Plains’ freshman Jordan Tucker scoring 34 points in his first game at the Westchester County Center.
WHITE PLAINS 75, CARDINAL SPELLMAN 48
WHITE PLAINS As he watched games at the County Center Friday, Jordan Tucker leafed through the Slam Dunk program. The tournament scoring record set by Stepinac’s Tony Taylor in 2007 caught his eye.
“I saw he had 54 and thought, ‘Damn, I’m not going to beat that,’” the White Plains freshman said. “So I just came out and concentrated. I was knocking down shots and playing like Jordan Tucker would.”
As the area has quickly found out, playing like Jordan Tucker means something already. The 6-foot-6 guard dropped jaws at the County Center as he poured in 34 points in White Plains’ 74-48 defeat of Cardinal Spellman in the opening round of the Slam Dunk.
Tucker connected on 12 of 19 shots, including 6 of 11 3-pointers and all four free throws – a performance that changed his pre-tournament outlook.
“I’m only a freshman. I have plenty of time,” said Tucker, who had 24 in the first half for the 4-0 Tigers. “Hopefully, I beat that record. Tony Taylor’s a great player, so hopefully I can be like him someday.”
Tucker was the primary beneficiary of nine assists from senior Mike DeMello, although seniors Justin Tapper (14 points), Marshon Morris (8) and Rexler Noel (8) also left their mark in the scorebook.
Tapper and Morris both contributed nine rebounds to help White Plains build a 41-26 halftime lead.
The Tigers, a three-time champ, advanced to their first Slam Dunk final since 2009 and will play Middletown at 7.
“This is always a big-time atmosphere. It’s a lot of fun. It’s tradition,” White Plains coach Spencer Mayfield said. “We want to do well here. It gets you ready for the season to play under pressure in a nice environment. It is good to be back.”
Here’s Josh’s video interview with Jordan Tucker:
Photo courtesy of Peter Carr/The Journal News. For the entire gallery click here.
Next up, Josh’s story on Fox Lane’s win over Stepinac in Saturday’s showcase game.
First, here is Mike Zacchio’s shot of Stepinac’s attempt at a game winner in the waning seconds.
CHALLENGE GAME: FOX LANE 56, STEPINAC 53
WHITE PLAINS Fox Lane expected to endure some adversity in December. In fact, with tough fields in the Harrison and Slam Dunk tournaments, coach Chris Violante welcomed it.
Violante reminded his team during a timeout in the final minute as its challenge game against Stepinac appeared to be falling apart.
“You want games like this,” Violante said. “You don’t want to beat everyone by 30. You want to get tested.”
Fox Lane was, but it finished strong to defeat defending Slam Dunk champ 56-53 at the County Center on Saturday.
Senior James Morales was named the MVP after posting 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting and adding five rebounds, two blocks and two steals against one of the area’s best backcourts.
“I’m not shocked by what I saw,” Violante said. “I know he can play with any of the best guards in the county.”
Stepinac junior Damarcus Miller finished with 20 points and five steals and senior Naim Thomas added 18 points and six rebounds. They connected on Thomas’ drive-and-dish in the final seconds down 55-53, but Miller’s 3-point attempt rimmed out.
It capped a tight game that saw eight ties and seven lead changes. Morales and Nic Bonura combined to shoot 8 for 14 from behind the arc for Fox Lane (7-1). Both hit key late baskets after Stepinac (1-6) led for much of the second half.
“We know come sectional time we’re going to face very athletic teams like this,” Morales said. “It’s good preparation for the playoffs.”
Here’s Josh’s video interview with Fox Lane’s MVP, James Morales:
Photo courtesy of Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News. For the complete gallery click here.
Finally, here is Josh’s story on Saunders falling to Middletown after getting off to a hot start.
MIDDLETOWN 76, SAUNDERS 49
WHITE PLAINS If Saunders had any fear of starting slow in the program’s first appearance at the County Center, that was squashed early. The Blue Devils jumped ahead of Section 9 contender Middletown by eight points by the midway point of the second quarter.
It was then their actual fear – facing pressure – was exposed and exploited. Middletown scored the next 14 points to take the lead. In all, the Bears forced Saunders into 26 turnovers in a humbling 76-49 defeat in Saturday night’s opening round of the Slam Dunk Tournament.
“Their press wore us down,” said junior guard Dijon Gonzales, who led the Blue Devils with 14 points but finished 6 for 20 from the field. “We started breakdown down. The turnovers were killing us.”
After it had trailed 24-16, Middletown’s Marlon Adams put his team in front, 26-24, with 1:40 left in the half. Not only did Saunders (3-2) never lead again, it saw the deficit swell to 21 points by the end of the third quarter.
Coach Anthony Nicodemo said the sudden turnaround was a byproduct of a lineup with only one senior supplanted in the rotation.
Gonzales and sophomore Derrick Felder are the only players with significant varsity experience.
“In certain situations, we get tight and we look to Dijon and (Felder) to carry us and they can’t,” Nicodemo said. “They came at us with the press. We worked on it all week, but we crumbled a little bit.”
Saunders will play Cardinal Spellman at 1 p.m. Sunday in the consolation game.
“The more minutes these kids get under their feet, the more aggressive, the more confident they’re going to be in February,” he said. “I think that’s what it’s about. Winning in December is great. Winning in the County Center is great. But we’ll take wins in the postseason, of course.”
Photos courtesy of Peter Carr/The Journal News. For the entire gallery click here.
Gorton 85, Tuckahoe 70
Clarkstown South 78, Francis Lewis 45
Suffern 70, Monroe Woodbury 46
Patuxent 62, Somers 59
Stepinac B 42, Scanlan B 21
Slam Dunk tournament
at Westchester County Center
Showcase: Fox Lane 56, Stepinac 53
White Plains 74, Spellman,48
Middletown 76, Saunders 49
STOP-DWI Holiday Classic, Binghamton
Math, Civics & Sciences (Penn.) 63, New Rochelle 57
Albertus Magnus Christmas Tournament
Consolation: Kennedy 67, Albertus Magnus 56
Championship: Salesian 64, North Rockland 47
John Costello Tournament at Hastings
Consolation: Haldane 54, Hastings 50, OT
Dan Dinan Tournament at Tappan Zee
Championship: Tappan Zee 56, Briarcliff 46
Best of the rest: Brendan Kenny had 12 points in Suffern’s 70-46 win at Monroe-Woodbury. Chris and Kevin Jefferson added 10 points apiece in the win. … Brian Reese had 15 points in New Rochelle’s 63-57 loss to Mathematics Civics & Sciences of Philadelphia in the first round of the STOP-DWI Holiday Classic in Binghamton. New Rochelle will play St. Michael’s of Toronto at 2:45 p.m. Sunday. St. Michael’s lost 70-68 to defending Class AA state Federation champ Christ the King on a last-second basket. … Rashan McKay had 35 points in Gorton’s 85-70 win at Tuckahoe. … Kevin Martinez had 20 points in Clarkstown South’s 78-45 win against visiting Francis Lewis. Joe Zayer added 14 points. … Jeff Carreira had nine points in Stepinac B’s 42-21 win at Scanlan B. Ray Guerriero added four points and seven rebounds. … Peter Hoffman had 24 points in Haldane’s 53-50 overtime win over Hastings in the conosolation of the Costello Tournament. … Anthony Montella was named tournament MVP as Salesian beat North Rockland 64-47 in the championship of the Albertus Magnus Christmas Tournament. … Matthew Moros had 25 points in Somers’ 62-59 loss to Patuxent. … Ryan McWilliams had 24 points and 10 rebounds as Tappan Zee won the inaugural Dan Dinan Tournament final 56-46 over visiting Briarcliff. Luke McLaughlin added 19 points and seven boards. Jackson Wexler and Sean Crowley led the Bears with 12 points apiece.