Griffin Challenge: Philly 3, Jersey 0

NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. – For the first time ever, Philadelphia teams swept the games at the 6th annual Eddie Griffin Challenge. Maalik Wayns, Dalton Pepper and Lance Brown played starring roles in the senior game.

Philadelphia is giving everyone problems these days.

So far, the Tampa Bay Rays haven't figured out how to crack the code of the Phillies.

As of Sunday, you can add the state of New Jersey to the list of parties frustrated with the city.

The Eddie Griffin Challenge has been contested each of the last six years but never has there been a sweep in the yearly series until now. Philadelphia took its counterparts from the Garden State to the woodshed winning the sophomore, junior and senior games Sunday at the Barn on the campus of Rutgers University.

This was the most dramatic game in the history of the event. Dalton Pepper's overtime stick back powered Philly to the 91-90 victory. Pepper, a West Virginia signee, demonstrated exactly why he's going to be a good college player. With him, it's not about the measurables but the intangibles. Winning clearly meant something to he and teammate Maalik Wayns. Philly won because these guys were the most competitive kids on the court.

MVP Pepper finished with 19 points and 9 rebounds. Wayns had 12 but it was his tenacity and coast-to-coast tough guy drives that defined his effort.

Jersey's Lance Brown pumped in 23 points, 16 in the first half. Brown, a potential all Atlantic 10 talent for Fordham, was the best offensive weapon for his team on Sunday. Dominic Cheek finished with 13 points and had the play of the even when he caught an alley oop. Dexter Strickland had 11.


NJ – Dexter Strickland 11, Tamir Jackson 17, Justin Crosgile 5, Lance Brown 22, Austin Johnson 4, Khalil Murphy 0, Dominic Cheek 13, Paris Bennett 6, Jamee Johnson 2, Carl Baptiste 0, Karon Abraham 5.

PHL – Nurideen Lindsey 12, Khalif Wyatt 7, Maalik Wayns 12, Rhalir Jefferson 7, Lamar Patterson 6, Dalton Pepper 19, Juanya Green 7, Rakeem Brookins 7, Dominic Morris 7, Markus Kennedy 5.

Kennedy Getting Better
The final score read 98-93 but in actuality, the Garden State was lucky since it was down 20 points midway through the contest. MVP Markus Kennedy had 14 points and Tyrone Garland provided the pop from the backcourt with 15.

Kennedy, a wide-bodied block player, has made strides since the summer and you'll see him signing with a high-major program one day. He's got big paws and a soft touch; guys his size are hard to come by.

Derrick Williams took home the hardware for Jersey as the MVP with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Power forward Ron Roberts and wings Mike Poole and Aishon White each improved his stock and flashed potential for the Jersey crew. Roberts is undersized at the four spot but makes up for his shortcomings with a rebounding presence and live legs. White can stroke it and Poole has an all-around game that will get him looks from higher-level teams.


NJ – Dondre Whitmore 7, Isaiah Epps 5, Mike Poole 9, Shaquille Thomas 9, Fuquan Edwin 8, Derrick Williams 14, Jayon James 7, Ron Roberts 12, Aaron Brown 11, Aishon White 10.

PHL – C.J. Aiken 7, Rakeem Brookins 17, Dominic Morris 8, Tyrone Garland 15, Travis Robinson 11, Markus Kennedy 14, Cameron Ayers 6, Matt Hankerson 0, Tyree Johnson 7, Torrel Candeleria 6.

Green Was MVP
Jersey seemed to have the better overall collection of talent. In the end, it didn't matter as Philadelphia soundly defeated its rival 93-85 to get the Challenge started off properly for the Philly crew.

Juanya Green, a shooting guard, paced Philly with 17 points. The game's leading scorer was Myles Davis, a noted shooter, who finished with 24. Philly sophs John Johnson (14) and Devin Coleman (15) also had strong efforts.

All-star games can be tough on big fellas but there were three of them we think you should commit to memory. Jersey's Desmond Hubert displayed the biggest ceiling of all the bigs. Philly insiders Keith Coleman and Shawn Oakman are specimens. Oakman, also a football prospect, is the hardest playing of the bunch and he's got natural defensive tools as well as a penchant for rebounding.

NJ – Sterling Gibbs 19, Myles Mack 6, Tyrone Johnson 12, Jarrelle Reischel 2, Myles Davis 24, Vaughn Gray 0, Khalid Lewis-El 8, Desmond Hubert 7, Jarrod Davis 4, Luke Piotrowski 3.

PHL – Joey Gripper 4, Aquil Younger 5, Shawn Oakman 6, John Johnson 14, Jalen Bond 12, Devin Coleman 15, Juanya Green 17, Scott Slade 4, Ameen Tankersley 13, Keith Coleman 4.

Organizer Jim Salmon awarded special achievement plaques to Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek for their silver medal performance with the U.S. under-18 junior national team last summer. Dexter Strickland was recognized with an award for his contributions to adidas Nations, a program that took him to Africa last summer. …

By our count, there were no less than four McDonald's All-American voters in the building on Sunday. What does that mean? It means this was an opportunity to sway a vote or two your way and the guy who most took advantage of the chances was Wayns. …

Strickland, Wayns, Cheeks Honored
Tamir Jackson was on his way to a big outing. The Rice signee was sensational with his effort and intensity. When Brown slowed down, Jackson shouldered the burden of getting buckets. … Austin Johnson dropped 15 pounds and is in the best shape of his life. …

Shaquille Thomas is bigger, stronger and we expect his game to blossom, maybe into a Corey Brewer type. He couldn't buy a perimeter hoop in the junior game but that did little to affect his overall projection. … Sophomore Jarrod Davis carries himself like a player. It'll only be a matter of time for him. … Khalid Lewis-El was Jersey's best player at both ends. He had 8 points, 7 assists and 7 steals. …

The six teams combined for one of the most frigid displays of free throw shooting we've ever seen. At one point, the 2011 contingent from Jersey was a combined 7-for-21 from the stripe. Official numbers weren't kept but we can guarantee you they were nothing to be proud of and that goes for all the games. If poor free throw shooting is contagious we had a massive outbreak at the Barn. …

Shaquille Thomas indicated that Syracuse and West Virginia were on him the hardest. … Oakman has Marquette, Nebraska, Oregon and Arizona keeping tabs on him. … Piotrowski fouled out after three quarters. UCLA, Kansas, Memphis, Oregon State and Virginia have reached out to him. … Jarrod Davis has early interest from UAB, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, George Mason, Georgetown, Rutgers, Iona and St. Joe's. … Poole has heard from St. John's, Rutgers, Western Kentucky, Kansas, Florida, Marquette and Connecticut. … Aishon White has heard from Fordham, Siena, Houston and Quinnipiac. …

"Jersey, what is going on?"

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