The Panthers had just seven players but that didn't stop them from giving one of Scout.com's Top 5 AAU teams a run for the title.
Panthers guard Vernon Teel, who sat the first half injured, took it to the rack to tie the game at 57-57 with just nine seconds remaining. As three of the Playaz ran down court on the inbounds, it was Wayne Ellington who stayed home to bring the ball up the floor.
Something just told you it was over right then and there.
The No. 1 ranked guard in the '06 class went North-South with on-ball pressure and created a jumper for himself from just behind the free-throw line. The Panthers were left with two seconds on the clock and a heave toward the hoop wasn't close.
Malik Rose Positive Image 56, CT Basketball 51Semifinals
CT Basketball 65, Playaz Black 59 Malik Rose Positive Image 42, Fairfield County Stars 38
Playaz Gold 59, Panthers 57
Playaz Gold 76, South Jersey Select 70 Panthers 59, New England Playaz 57 (3 OT)
Playaz Gold 63, Dajuan Wagner Rising Stars 56 Panthers 54, Maryland Madness 41 New England Playaz 70, Middlesex Magic 52 South Jersey Select 66, Monmouth Power 63
Playaz 59, Rhode Island Hawks 56
BABC 84, Central Jersey Hawks 71
HOT NEWS & NOTES
Breakout tournament comes from 6-7 swingman Kiwan Smith, who was hidden playing with the Laurinburg varsity team this past year. He served up the usual highlight dunks that you saw from him at ABCD last year, but the three-ball was going in casually for Smith. In the first half of the semis against the Panthers, he opened up 5-of-6 from behind the arc. That included four in a row in the opening five minutes of the game, and he had all of the team's first 21 points in a crazy performance that had the gym buzzing.
And this wasn't the only game that he was stepping out with confidence, as we had him for 30 in the play-in game, 28 in the quarters, and 26 in a 60-59 overtime win over Positive Image on Saturday afternoon's pool play as well. He'll be playing the prep level at Laurinburg next year and says he's hearing from mostly ACC schools, also mentioning Memphis and South Carolina.
Travis George is another player who will be at Laurinburg next year after bouncing around from Notre Dame and Mount Zion. He had a big block that sent the game to overtime against Positive Image and one in the semis against the Panthers that helped NE Playaz hang around.
Corey Lowe from Middlesex Magic was the big reason behind reaching the playoffs. In the pool's deciding game with Delaware Sharpshooters, he went for 37 points and the game-winner with Jawan Carter (24 points) across from him in the Delaware backcourt. At 6-1, 180-pounds, his coach said all the state schools in New England are on him, plus Boston College, Providence and Northeastern.
Positive Image got a team-high 26 points in the Open championship from Brad Wanamaker, a 6-4 sophomore at Roman Catholic in Philly.
Playaz Black's big man Hashim Bailey says he'll prep next year and has interest from Memphis, St. John's, Pittsburgh and Florida. He's visited the first two and had planned on visiting Pitt on Saturday before he knew about Jam Fest. He also said Florida was coming in to see him Thursday.
Hamadi Ndiaye was a new face on the scene, or should we say new body. He's 6-11, 230 pounds and his coach Russ Cooke from Dajuan Wagner Rising Stars says that he's put on 30 pounds since arriving to the States from Senegal back in the winter. Ndiaye played at Life Center (N.J.) this past season but has only been playing ball for around a year-and-a-half. Coach Cooke said no schools have inquired yet, but they'll be at Charlie Weber.
Bryan Kendrick of Maryland Madness looked good Friday and kept it going. He's going to re-classify because he missed all last year with a broken foot. Had the team-high of 16 points against the Panthers in the quarters.