With a Northeast-heavy line-up of teams, the South Carolina Celtics provided a welcome contrast to the field at the Five Star and New Heights Basketball City Classic in New York City this weekend. They brought a healthy dose of size and a couple of high major talents to do battle in New York.
Featuring 6-foot-8 Clemson commit LaRon Dendy, 6-foot-4 Georgia Tech commit Lance Storrs, and 6-foot-8 Jeremy Price, bound for the Georgia, the Celtics brought some firepower to the Big Apple, and their match-up with the Long Island Lightning team coached by Joe Walsh was an entertaining battle in the quarterfinals on Sunday.
After finding themselves in a huge hole early, the feisty Lightning threw a serious second half surge at the Celtics before falling 74-68. And ultimately, a more unheralded player led the Celtics to victory.
A high IQ team that was especially size-challenged on Sunday, the Lightning chipped away at a double-digit second half deficit, getting a strong effort down the stretch from Darryl Crawford. The 6-foot-2 senior shooting guard from All Hallows High School in The Bronx showed his resiliency and ability to get to the rim with a number of key buckets late.
After Crawford (19 points) hit a pair of free throws to pull the Lightning to within 68-66 with 1:22 to play, he picked the pocket of Celtics guard Chad Tomko at halfcourt and took it in for the finish, tying the game at 68-68.
Unfortunately, the Lightning did not have much left in the tank. 5-foot-6 point guard Timothy Downs (Berea HS, Greenville, SC) of the Celtics buzzed through the lane for the finish, plus the foul. Denby would add two free throws to put it away.
Tomko made some key plays in the final three minutes for the Celtics, nailing a tough baseline runner around the three minute mark, and coming back on the next possession to find Dendy for the finish after penetrating and drawing the defense. He finished with 17 points, including four three-pointers. Dendy showed a reliable mid-range stroke and was fairly active on both ends. He had 12 points in the win.
The Georgia native Price played consistently well in New York. He was an eraser against the Lightning, changing shots with regularity and showing good timing and quick leaping ability as a shot blocker, as well as solid footwork on the offensive end. Storrs flashed a formidable perimeter stroke and showed the ability to get his shot.
Torrance McGill (2007), the 6-foot-1 bruiser from St. Raymond's High School in The Bronx, scored 16 points for the Lightning. McGill defines blue-collar, battling and scrapping inside.
Bernard Cherry (6-foot-5 PF), McGill's senior teammate from St. Ray's, also provided some inside muscle, scoring 12 points. Cherry also showed a nice short-range jumper. He is unsigned.
Nick Walsh, the 5-foot-8 junior 1/2 guard from All Hallows, contributed 12 points. Walsh wields a dangerous shooting stroke from mid and long range.