While their run in this weekend's Main Event in Las Vegas looked to be in
peril during pool play, the Metro Hawks rebounded nicely to rip off a number of
wins and advance to the Final Four before bowing out
at the hands of eventual champion Friends of Hoop, from Seattle, 58-54.
The Metro Hawks went 2-1 in pool play, with their lone loss coming to talented Team Texas. They held off Georgia Elite and handled Nor Cal Elite, comfortably, on the opening days of the tourney, receiving steady play from Jon Mitchell and Tyrell Biggs, and plenty of energy from Akeem Gooding and burly 6-foot-1 230 pounder Brandon Brock.
The Hawks drew Portland, Oregon-based Friends of Jefferson in the Round of 16
on Sunday afternoon. After trailing early, they received timely shooting
from Herbie Allen and Tyrell Biggs, as well as Jon
Mitchell, who was effective inside and active on the glass. Despite missing four front-ends of one-and-one's in the last minute and a half, the Metro Hawks were able to escape with a 63-62 win. Biggs led the charge with 24 points, showing a deft mid-range touch to go along with his bruising play inside, while Herbie Allen, who shot the ball very well throughout the playoffs, went for 12, and Mitchell 11.
Sunday's evenings draw of the DC Blue Devils looked troublesome. However, the
Hawks were able to contain guards Eric Price and Tywon Lawson, for the most
part, and the bigs did a good job of neutralizing the Blue Devils' insiders,
including talented 6-foot-9 forward Kevin Durant. Mitchell did yeoman's work in
this match-up, collecting a slew of points in close, and Allen once again
provided timely shooting. Biggs
banged effectively beneath, and used his strength to overpower defenders, with Rutgers head coach Gary Waters looking on in the stands.
You could sense that the Hawks would at some point run into a juggernaut, and their semifinal round draw, Friends of Hoop of Seattle, could have been just that. However, Biggs did a serviceable job on 6-foot-7 240 pounder Jon Brockman, who got into early foul trouble, as did Akeem Gooding and Brandon Brock on 6-foot-6 wing Martell Webster. The guard play was spirited, as usual, with the pesky Allen and crew harassing Friends' ballhandlers and causing problems at times.
The Metro Hawks took a 33-30 lead into the half, but they couldn't hold off Friends of Hoop forever, despite their early lethargic play. Both teams exchanged blows after the half, as Biggs dug in and copped a couple of baskets and Mitchell continued his steady play. Ultimately, however, the Hawks surrended a couple of threes within the last 10 minutes that proved costly, and Friends of Hoops' big guns, Brockman and Webster, woke up a bit and provided some second-half support. Mitchell led the Metro Hawks with 21 points, while Allen chipped in 10, and Biggs 9.
For what could have been a disastrous showing, the Metro Hawks were able to regain their composure and plow through their bracket. Ultimately, their game against eventual champion Friends of Hoop was much more competitive than the title game, in which Friends ran away from Baltimore-based Cecil Kirk 87-59.
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