Paul Snyder’s Winter Hoop Journal

Mt. Vernon Knights with MVP Dylan Colon (No 21)

On the first Saturday of 2023 I drove from Montauk to Iona University in New Rochelle for the Slam Dunk Showcase and Crusader Classic. The 4pm game was a 2 point thriller between Kingston High School from Ulster County and Westchester County’s White Plains High School. White Plains led 18-17 after the 1st quarter on the back of Menzy Carden’s 13 points. Kingston won the 2nd quarter 18-9 and led 35-27 at halftime. After a 14-13 3rd quarter Kingston led 49-40 going into the final 8 minutes. White Plains came storming back in the final quarter. It was back and forth in the last quarter until Kingston went on a 6-0 run to lead by 10 with 4 minutes to play. That’s when White Plains took over and got the game tied at 67 with just under 2 minutes left. Kingston’s MVP winner Ke’montae Thawe hit a big shot with 1:27 left that made it 69-67. With 30.7 seconds to go White Plains’ Logan McCormick made a tough shot under the basket to tie it at 69. With 6 seconds left Kingston’s Isaiah Thomas hit the game winner. In his 22 minutes of playing time Thomas made 6 of 7 shots. He had 13 points, 8 rebounds (including 5 offensive), 3 assists and 1 steal. Kingston won the Boys opener 71-69.

The 6pm match up was between defending Class AA NY Public School Champion Mt Vernon and Brooklyn Catholic Prep School Xaverian. Mt Vernon led 14-12 after the 1st quarter. Xaverian won the 2nd 15-11 to lead 27-25 at halftime. Mt. Vernon took the 3rd, 14-13 and Xaverian led 40-39 going into the final quarter. The game had 11 lead changes and was tied 12 times. In the final quarter Mt. Vernon MVP Dylan Colon hit two huge shots. The first was a big 3 to tie it 46-46 with 3:59 to go. MV’s Jaden Fearon scored on a lay-up with 2:08 to go putting MV up 52-48. With 53.4 seconds to go Colon hit his 2nd big shot making it 55-50. Mt Vernon won 59-52.

The 5th Annual Crusader Classic between Iona Prep from New Rochelle and Archbishop Stepinac from White Plains closed out the evening. Stepinac features Johnuel “Boogie” Fland. He’s the 9th ranked college basketball prospect in the country for the class of 2024 according to Rivals. Iona Prep held a 26-22 halftime lead. Fland took over the game in the 2nd half. With a 2 point lead and 36 seconds to go in the 3rd quarter he drove down the lane scoring with his left hand. With 6:30 to go in the 4th quarter he drove down the right side and scored with his right hand to make it 44-39. With 4:10 to go he made a beautiful turnaround jumper from the right side to make it 49-42. Stepinac beat Iona Prep 63-49. They out-scored Prep 41-24 in the 2nd half. Fland had 31 points and was the MVP.

On Sunday January 8th I drove from Westchester to Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway, NJ for a Noon tip-off between Iowa and Rutgers. Rutgers came into the game on a 3 game winning streak. Their last two wins were against No.1 ranked Purdue on January 2nd and Maryland on January 5th. Rutgers never got it going against Iowa in the first half. They were down 42-30 at halftime. Rutgers beat Iowa in the 2nd half. They were down 71-65 with 1:01 to go after Clifford Omoruyi made free throws. They had a chance to cut it to 3 points but Cam Spencer missed a 3 point shot. Iowa won 76-65. They outshot Rutgers shooting 44.6% making 25 of 56 attempts. Rutgers shot 38.1% making 24 of 63 attempts. Iowa made 12 three pointers while Rutgers had only 5 threes. After the big wins against Purdue on Monday (1/2) and Maryland on Thursday (1/5). Rutgers might’ve had a “winner’s hangover” for the early Sunday game. They look to “right the ship” against Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois as we go to press.