On December 30th, the last Saturday of 2023, I traveled 93 miles up island to St. Dominic’s High School in Oyster Bay for the 2023 New York Holiday Invitational. The opening match up was between Section 1’s Mt. Vernon High School and Section 8’s Syosset HS. The invitational billed the matchup as, “the defending back to back Section 8 semifinalists take on the 12 time NY Public HS Athletic Association Campion.” Syosset took an early 10 point 1st quarter lead.
At 13-3 Mt. Vernon went on a 5-0 run and the opening quarter ended 15-8. Mt. Vernon won the 2nd quarter by a point. Syosset led by six points at halftime 26-20. Mt. Vernon came out of halftime like a 12 time NY state champion. They went on a 14-6 run three minutes in to the 3rd quarter to take a 34-32 lead after Nate Edwards scored and was fouled. The 3rd quarter ended with MV up 47-36, the Knights outscored Syosset by 17 points (27-10) in the 3rd quarter. Mt. Vernon outscored Syosset by twelve points (21-9) in the 4th quarter. Mt. Vernon won the game 68-45. They outscored Syosset 48-19 in the 2nd half. Nate Edwards led the Knights with 22 points. He was named to the All Showcase Team, one of seven players chosen from the ten teams that played in the invitational.
On January 6th, the first Saturday of 2024, I was at the Slam Dunk Showcase and Crusader Classic at The Westchester County Center in White Plains, NY. The first game was a matchup between hometown public high school White Plains and Scarsdale HS, which is located less than 4 miles south of the County Center. It was a great game. Scarsdale led 14-12 after the 1st quarter with Carlos Rodriguez scoring 8 of Scarsdale’s 14 points. The 2nd quarter was a 13-13 draw. Scarsdale led 27-25 at halftime.
White Plains standout Logan McCormick put WP up 33-32 with three minutes left in the 3rd quarter. Scarsdale outscored them 7-4 to lead by two 39-37 after three quarters. McCormick and Luke Brooks would not let the hometown team lose. White Plains outscored Scarsdale 14-11 in the 4th quarter to win 51-50. McCormick had 22 points and won the MVP. Brooks just missed a double/double with 14 points and 9 rebounds.
After the White Plains HS win, another White Plains school Archbishop Stepinac dominated Iona Prep from nearby New Rochelle 72-48 in the Crusader Classic. The matchup between local Catholic powers was standing room only. Watching Johnuel “Boogie” Fland run Stepinac’s attack is always memorable. The five-star Kentucky commit is arguably the top high school point guard in the country!
The next day I was back on the road driving to Newark, NJ. The Mt. Vernon Knights were playing at Newark Collegiate Academy against Edison, NJ Catholic power St Thomas Aquinas HS. Aquinas came into the game with a 9-2 record after starting the season with 7 straight wins. The first Sunday of 2024 saw these teams battle to a 20-19 1st quarter Aquinas lead. Senior Nate Edwards and Junior Tavien Tyler led MV with 8 points each in the opening quarter. At halftime Mt. Vernon trailed Aquinas 42-40. Tyler had 16 points at halftime. In the second half Aquinas Coach Bob Turco was shouting “shooter” each time Tyler touched the ball. After 3 quarters Mt. Vernon trailed by eight 60-52. MV came out hot in the 4th quarter with an 11-4 run to cut Aquinas’ lead to one 64-63 with 5:08 to play. Aquinas closed the game out with a powerful 16-2 run in the last 5:08. Basketball is a game of runs and the final run got Aquinas a 15 point win 80-65.