Playaz pull away from Juice Crew

Make no bones about it - the Playaz 17 and under team is oozing with talent, and they're going to pose serious problems for opponents on the circuit this summer. But on Sunday at IS8, the older crew reminded onlookers that they're not too shabby themselves.

Paced by Derrick Mercer's 20 points, the Playaz' elders put six players in double figures to overwhelm the Juice Crew, 89-80. Jimmy Salmon's boys eventually broke open a tight game with around six minutes left to play, wearing Juice down with their depth, size, and talent.

Mercer was masterful for the Playaz, dropping 20 but more significantly causing problems for Juice's ballhandlers with his pressure. Mercer, who is bound for American University, teamed with Chris Andrews in the backcourt to give the Playaz a speedy set of ballhandlers and a pair of defensive pests.

Others who figured prominently in the win for the Playaz included Brandon Costner (14 points), Barney Anderson (14 points), Gerald Inman (11 points), Ryan Ayers (10 points), and Alvin Mofunanya (10 points). Mofonanya is a blossoming talent who had previously impressed us with his play at the Jordan Classic.

Juice was led by one of New York City's top marksmen, 6-foot-2 senior shooting guard Jamel Jackson from Lincoln High School. Jackson went for 29 points, including five threes. He couldn't keep Juice in it down the stretch, but the streak shooter is an unheralded talent out of Brooklyn who will help a prep school program next fall. He hasn't decided on a destination.

Juice enlisted the talents of Antonio Pena and Levance Fields, but it wasn't enough to offset the Playaz' bounty. Fields scored 17 points, while Pena added nine. Marvin Roberts, a 6-foot-2 combo guard from Lutheran Christian in Philly (by way of Brooklyn) pitched in with nine points.

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