By Robert Alfonso Jr.
NEW YORK, NY – New York City basketball has always been about bragging rights. It has since expanded. Players from the tri-state area get one last shot at the bragging rights in the City Is Mine tournament.
United Brooklyn put out a challenge and it was accepted. The statement was simple, either take this championship game personal or go home empty handed.
The Kings County squad steadied its flow behind the play of three guards early, Then the interior made it a point to carry the load in the second half as it beat Milbank 94-87 on Friday at Terminal 23 to win the City If Mine championship.
Brooklyn eyes and fans were all smiles as it held the trophy along with the bragging rights.
The City is Mine tournament started last year at the Bronx’s Gauchos gym with the goal of bringing together four teams loaded with talent from around the area for a one-day single-elimination tournament. This winning team would earn bragging for the entire as to who had the best talent in New York. Milbank, from Harlem, were the inaugural champions.
“It means everything to bring that trophy back to Brooklyn,” United coach Andre Ambrose said.
Donald Flores, Marion Williams and Deondre Bourne steered United Brooklyn early. The 6-foot Flores, from Lincoln High, got to the basket at will early and often in the first half. Williams, a Brooklyn native who is headed to Prep school in the fall, provided equally as effective scoring. The final of the three-guard combination on the floor was Bourne, a 6-foot-4 guard from Leman Prep, who came off the bench and length to compliment his teammates. Brooklyn needed all three early as highly-touted recruit Nick Richards, from the Patrick School, sat on the bench with three fouls.
In the second-half, Richards made sure if Brooklyn was going to win his presence would be felt. He did not take long to do with a number of thunderous dunks or vicious rebounds to ignite the fastbreak. The effort helped Brooklyn get the bragging rights and the title.
“Those guards that kept us in the game deserve all the credit,” Ambrose said. “I told him (Nick) this was a personal matchup (with Moses Brown).”
Flores and Richards led Brooklyn with 22 points apiece. Williams chipped in with 15 points. Louis King poured in 10 points. Bourne added eight.
Molloy’s Brown led Milbank with 23 points.
How did the teams get to the finals? Winning in the semifinals
Milbank 106, NY Rens 105
This game was played at a fast pace as both teams refused to let the other get away from them too far.
Milbank held on for the win behind the play of former St. Raymond High teammates Isaiah Washington and Sid Wilson. Washington, from St. Raymond, led Milbank with 24 points. Brandon Randolph, from Westtown School, poured in with 19 points. Wilson, who will attend Brewster Academy in the fall after reclassifying to 2018, had 16 points.
Washington and Wilson put on a show with several highlight dunks and plays, creating a buzz in the building.
Christ the King’s Jose Alvarado put on the best show of the day. The senior guard got through the lane like a bicycle delivery person getting through traffic in Manhattan. He had fans on the edge of their seats with every possession. Alvarado finished with a game-high 33 points before fouling out. Mount Vernon High’s Marco Morency contributed with 21 points.
United Brooklyn 107, Team Uptown 98
A quick start was all United Brooklyn needed to set the tone as it ran away from its Manhattan opponent.
Nick Richards established himself inside early against a much smaller Uptown frontline. His presence on both ends of the floor was all Brooklyn needed to keep its distance.
Uptown was not willing to fold its tent in the second half. Bishop Loughlin High product Marquis Nowell led a charge back early in the half. This was not enough as Brooklyn just weathered the run before advancing to the title game.
Louis King led Brooklyn with 25 points, while Richards poured in 19.
Nowell had a team-high 23 points for Uptown. Monsignor Scanlan’s Saquan Singleton added 20 points.
Sideline loaded with stars
The City Is Mine tournament didn’t just bring out the best talent in and around the Big Apple, it brought out some big names.
Names like New York Knicks and three-time Olympic gold medalist Carmelo Anthony along with teammate Kristaps Porzingis and New Jersey native Dahntay Jones were in the building.
David “Cha-Ching” Teele provided the on-court flair with his commentary as DJ Webstar played the hottest tracks in the background or during timeouts.
The final star power individual to enter the building was Atlantic Records recording artists, A Boogie With Da Hoodie from the Bronx. He gave a small performance after the game sending those in attendance home thrilled.