"It's All About The Game"
Team Jersey Withstands Hunting Park’s Comeback in Semis
May 1, 2006 – Charlie Weber’s Capitol Invitational was chock full exciting games, and Team New Jersey Elite’s 54-46 victory over the hyper-talented and extremely well coached Hunting Park team squad was no exception. This semi-final match up featured at least six or seven future Division I student athletes, with a significant number of other young men more than capable of playing Division II or III hoops in the future, also participating.
Coach Galen Smith of Team New Jersey received big scoring contributions from junior Idris Hillard and senior Paris Horne (15 points apiece). His Hunting Park counterpart, Dan Brinkley, benefited from the Morris twin’s 18 points – Marcus’ 5 and Markeiff’s 13 as well as Kenneth Spotinor’s 10 points, Miguel Boachia’s seven, and three by Kevin Radford.
Team New Jersey's Idris Hillard
Hillard, a junior forward from Central New Jersey’s Huns school, has received a scholarship offer from St. Joes and interest from Georgetown and a host of Big East/ACC schools, battled the Morris brothers all game long in the paint, scoring primarily via mid-range jump shots and stick backs. Standing 6’6”, his athleticism and skills make him a walking mismatch, and versus Hunting Park allowed him to battle the 6’8+” Markieff Morris in the paint, and at times defend Marcus Morris , himself standing almost 6’8”, on the wing.
The Morris brothers, both juniors, are well known in mid-Atlantic hoop circles, having won a Pennsylvania high school title this past year for the South Philadelphia based Prep Charter High School. Brinkley coaches them at Prep Charter also and indicated “Kentucky, Indiana, Miami, Maryland, UVA, Rutgers, Villanova, George Mason, St. Joes, Temple, GW, and LaSalle have all expressed interest in they young guys (they plan to continue playing together, in college).
Markieff is a steady inside presence, who has good balance, a nice repertoire of post moves, and will hit the mid range jumper. Marcus is more of a shooter/slasher, who does a lot of his work either on the perimeter, or going towards the hoop. Even though he didn’t shoot particularly in this contest, Marcus did illustrate an ability to attack the rim off the bounce, many times dishing to open teammates. His fourth quarter feed of Markieff, who then converted a lay up, is testament to that ability to share the rock.
Markieff Morris (23) setting up for an inbounds play
Their joint high school experience, shared by Radford as well, in addition to growing up playing with one another clearly bred a sense of closeness and understanding between the Morris brothers – throughout the contest, both Morris brothers were directing, chiding and supporting one another.
In fact, the Hunting Park Warriors, as a group, seemed to possess a sense of familiarity that at times was obvious. On many occasions, Brinkley was able to call plays and expect the guys to run his sets, without fear of confusion. An example of this was their consistent overload of Team New Jersey’s zone defense – something that is not greatly common in AAU ball. Brinkley and the staff at Hunting Park’s impressive coaching ability stood out.
Hunting Park's Marcus Morris gets position, as Paris Horne (23) and Boachia attempt to join the fray
Team New Jersey’s Paris Horne, a senior guard bound for prep school, was the difference in his team’s win. Horne, displayed playmaking ability, along with the ability to score, including range out to the three point line. The young guy was also a defensive force harassing the Warrior’s guards all game. His coach, Smith, labeled the young man “the consummate team player”.
During the second quarter, Smith’s crew would lead by as much as 10 points; Horne’s back to back three balls, and a Hillard 16 footer set the score at 27-17. To finish the quarter, both teams played fairly physically, with Team Jersey holding a 31-23 halftime advantage.
Dan Brinkley coaching up his charges, including Markieff Morrris
Hunting Park started the third stanza with a greater measure of intensity, and the scoreboard started to represent it. Key to this was the junior Radford, who Brinkley credited with making “the defensive difference” through backcourt defensive pressure. Hunting Park’s coach views Radford as a “defensive specialist” who is currently a high Division II college player, who with improvement may end up playing for a larger school, based on the broadening of his offensive skills.
A 7-2 Warrior run was completed when the sweet shooting sophomore backcourt performer Boachia, drained three free throws earned on a long ball attempt, which was followed by Marcus Morris’ lay up, created by cutting to the hoop. Markieff followed that with a nice baseline pivot move that freed him for a lay up.
By the time Spotinor, a junior guard who is battle tested and could be highly recruited with increased work this AAU season, converted an at the rim shot and its related foul shot, Hunting Park seized a 38-37 lead.
During the final stanza, Team New Jersey outscored Hunting Park 12-6. Their coach, Smith, credited increased defensive focus and attention to the mental game for his team’s victory, saying “It was just good team work. And they decided they wanted to play defense”. He should have included his coaching as well, as Team New Jersey is clearly well prepared, and responds well to his X’s and O’s, and motivation.
Galen Smith, of Tean New Jersey, directing his team
Both of these team’s are eastern AAU forces that will only improve
with time. The ability of their coaches and players will ensure it.
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