The last 2 games on Thursday night in the 2013 Queen City Invitational Basketball Tournament were intra-city games, and they both turned into blowouts. Trinity and Manchester Central showed why they are widely considered the 2 best teams in the NHIAA, as Central ran Manchester West out of the gym en route to a 70-29 win and in the night cap Trinity stomped Manchester Memorial 74-42.
Central was all over West right from the get-go, whereas Memorial was actually giving Trinity a good battle for most of the 1st half (Crusaders led 16-14 after 1) before the Pioneers took over. Friday night it's the main event, as Trinity takes on Central in the semis.
The leading scorer on the night (only kid who had more than 13 points) was Central wing Joey Martin, who dropped 18 points, including four 3-pointers. Other standouts were Trinity forward Wenyen Gabriel, Memorial guard Kabongo Ngalakulondi and Central guard Brett Hanson. All four players are only juniors.
Here are some more thoughts on each game:
Manchester Central 70 Manchester West 29
Central was simply playing at too high of a level, and too fast of a pace for West to handle. But to be fair to the Blue Knights, they are very young. West starts 3 sophomores and only 1 senior. 4 of their top 7, and 5 of their top 8 players are sophomores. They're young, still learning and were going against a Central team that is loaded this year and already hitting on all cylinders.
One of West's sophomores, Keenan Caron showed some promise with a weak side block then later hitting a 3. But Central still was able to jump out to a quick 8-0 lead thanks to some strong drives and finishes by Hanson. Then senior point guard Dawson Dickson connected on a 3 and the lead was quickly 13-2 Little Green. Junior wing Zack Jones is very athletic and had some nice flashes for West, finishing strong inside a few times and also had an impressive block on Tyler Kelley. As though 1st half went on though, Central senior guard Mike Plentzas was really emerging as a key play off the bench, making some tough finishes on the break and in the half court.
Central was swarming on defense and attacking on offense. Head coach Doc Wheeler has an 8 player rotation and he can substitute freely knowing that he can throw 3 new guys in at any time and not lose anything from the guys who were out there. These guys are really playing well right now. Central led 18-6 after 1 quarter.
In the 2nd quarter Hanson threw down an emphatic 2 handed dunk on the break, to make it 35-11, Jon Martin had a couple of quick layups and Joey Martin really started to heat up from the outside. The Little Green scored a whopping 24 points in the 2nd quarter. They led 42-13, and cruised to the 70-29 victory.
Trinity 74 Manchester Memorial 42
Although it turned out to be a blowout, this was a good battle early on. Carmen Giampetruzzi got Trinity on the board with a shifty dribble drive move to get in the paint, going to his dominant left hand and finishing in traffic. Ngalakulondi answered right back, driving to the rim and making a tough finish of his own. Then on the next time down it was Nagalakulondi again, this time taking the contact and hitting a leaner along the baseline. Then Memorial got a steal which led to a Trevon Maughn layup. Maughn then got another steal, this time making an and-1 finish. Then it was Ngalakulondi's turn again, making a strong take into the lane and finishing in traffic. Next time down the floor Ngalakulondi hits a foul liner jumper. Surprise, surprise, Memorial is up 13-8!
The action really starts to heat up at the end of the 1st quarter, as Gabriel starts to come alive. Gabriel grabs the ball at the 3/4 court mark, slices his way through the entire Memorial defense right up the middle of the floor. Then with a pair of Memorial players in the paint defending he rises up ad slams down a 2 handed dunk over them. The crowd is buzzing after that one!
Maughn answers right back with a 3 ball though to silence the Trinity fans. Again though it's Gabriel on the other end, finishing a tough leaner inside. Memorial leads 16-14 after 1 quarter.
The rest of the game though was all Trinity. The Pioneers came out in the 2nd quarter re-focused, and carrying the momentum from Gabriel's big plays at the end of the 1st. They went on a quick 7-0 run to start the 2nd quarter, with 2 FTs by Giampetruzzi, a Pat Keefe layup and a 3-pointer by Brad Rhoades (12 points). Otis hit a 3, then hoades would add another - these 2 guys are snipers, you can't leave them open. But you also can't leave the paint open for Giampetruzzi and Gabriel though. Gabriel had another dunk, then the next time down the floor made a catch and finish in traffic for an and-1. Then on the next trip down on defense he came over from the weak side to swat a shot away. Otis made a steal, and an easy layup in the back court. All Trinity in the 2nd quarter, as they explode for 29 points and lead 43-27 at halftime. It should be noted that during the last few minutes of the 2nd quarter when Trinity really kicked it into high gear, Ngalakulondi was on the bench.
3rd quarter it's all Trinity again, this time outscoring Memorial 20-7. Rhoades kept going hard to the rim, hitting layups and floaters. Then Otus buried another 3 ball, as Trinity kept on rolling, up 52-38. Ngalakulondi had another tough drive and finish. He ended with 13 points, while Gabriel had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Trinity led 63-34 after 3 quarters. Both teams played their bench and JV kids for most of the 4th, and the Pioneers win it going away 74-42.