The IS8 Experience

JAMAICA, N.Y. – Corey Fisher helped his team capture the IS8 championship. Scout.com takes you inside the gym for a taste of what the IS8 experience is like.

"Bring your game, not your name."

That's what it says on the back of every jersey at IS8.

One simple phrase best sums up what IS8 is all about. For 32 minutes the rubber meets the road and instead of the usual hype surrounding a kid's game it's about a few things: respect and winning.

Everyone from New York says the same thing: "You have to go to IS8 and see a game." IS8, by the way, is a tiny intermediate school gym with just enough bleachers to draw a crowd and more than enough history to write a book about.

The IS8 Fall Tip-Off Classic is an open roster event for 50 teams with high school age players. Often times out of area studs like Mike Beasley, LeBron and Tyreke Evans will venture into the city for a run at the fabled venue. In New York, IS8 isn't merely a league, its an institution.

IS8 doesn't make kids better players (though 30 current NBA players have laced them up in the same gym). What the gym and the league do is hold kids accountable. There is no dirty looks or ill words for the referees. Coaches aren't yelling at each other on the sidelines and parents aren't jabbing with other parents. It's just not tolerated here.

"Everybody knows that this is the place to be so you don't want to do anything to jeopardize that," Justin Burrell of the J.R. All-Stars said. "You don't even foul hard, why even do that?"


Famed IS8 Gymnasium

And if you do happen to get out of line the gym's resident police officer will take you to task. OK, he's not an officer of the law, he is, however, the guy who runs the league. More importantly, he's the voice over the loudspeaker and he's the one guy that can ruin your day.

Nobody wants Pete Edwards calling them out in a game.

"That puts a lot of pressure on you, you make a mistake you're hearing it the whole game," Knights junior Sylvan Landesberg said. "He says a lot of stuff about everybody but during the game if you listen to that, that's what really messes you up."

On Sunday, in a semifinal loss, Landesberg's name was called out a lot by Edwards. The wing scored 47 points so obviously his name and his game were a topic of conversation throughout. "Sylvan is coming at you … (that's) a problem," Edwards' voice railed over the P.A. system.

When Landesberg would drive, Edwards might count the defenders enveloping him. Whatever he was saying, he had an audience. A very attentive audience.

"Nobody ever gets out of line," one spectator who used to play in the league said. "(Edwards) runs a very stern tournament."

New York basketball is predicated on having a good time and watching the entertainers. At IS8, there's plenty to go around and everyone is fair game, even the father sitting on the baseline spending the day with his young son. The dad's son happened to have a loud set of pipes and started crying during a rare quiet time of the game.

"Feed that baby," a fan shouted across the gym. "Feed that baby."

Edwards left it alone but inside he had to have been smiling. He may borrow that one someday.

IS8 CHAMPIONSHIP

SEMIFINALS


Sylvan Landesberg, POY
  • JR All-Stars 114, Knight 76 – The Knights, disguised a Holy Cross' varsity team, saw their storybook run end and it came at the hands of an IS8 superpower. Landesberg's 47 points came in a one-man gang effort. Meanwhile, Michael Glover (18 points), Corey Fisher (17) and Justin Burrell (16) ganged up on them in a shootout in which one team had way more weapons.

  • Shooting Stars 86, Team Odom 79 – With a 19-point halftime lead, Samardo Samuels and his boys began counting their lucky stars. Mistake. Team Odom, playing without Malik Boothe who injured his ankle on Saturday, nearly pressured the Stars into a loss. Junior Ryan Pearson had 30 in a losing effort. "Pressure busts pipes," Edwards implored. The only reason the pipes didn't burst is because the Stars took care of the ball in the last 2 minutes. James Sutherland had 18, Dexter Strickland 17 and Samuels 13.

    CHAMPIONSHIP

  • JR All-Stars 108, Shooting Stars 84 – Corey Fisher took home MVP honors as his team bested Samardo's boys in a big way. Fisher scored 24, assisted with the barrage of pressure defense and for his efforts was named the game MVP. Justin Burrell, the St. John's-bound power forward, had a big time game. He shot a perfect 10-for-10 from the field and hauled in 10 boards. Samuels mustered up enough energy to get 26 and 16 but his club lost the track meet.

    Sylvan Landesberg was named the IS8 Fall Tip-Off Player of the Year. He earned it. His Holy Cross team wasn't supposed to be playing on Sunday but his hot hand carried them. …. First Team All IS8: Malik Boothe, Jamine Peterson, Samardo Samuels, Corey Fisher, Michael Glover. … Samardo Samuels is in no hurry to make a decision. He's been to UConn and North Carolina. He'd like to see Georgetown and Louisville, maybe even Florida. The bottom line is he's still got a lengthy list and despite the fall travel, he's taking his time. …


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