The Patrick School’s Allon Johnson going up for the shot over an LuHi defender on Monday night. Photo Credit: Ben Berry/Ben Shot It
Philanthropy is something that Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving is all about. From partnering with his God father Rod Strickland to start the Nike sponsored Kyrie Strickland youth league in the South Bronx, to paying for the tuition of a sick student who attends his alma mater, and funding a renovation of The Patrick school’s gym and weight room. Kyrie is always looking to do more for the youth.
On Monday December 17th, Kyrie and Nike basketball held their first annual Kyrie Invitational at the Barclays Center. The purpose of the invitational was to give local high school players a chance to play on a NBA court as well as promote the Kyrie V. The event was free and open to the public which was Kyrie and Nike’s way of giving back. The event started with a game between two of the top girls programs in NYC, Bishop Loughlin out of the CHSAA and Murry Bergtraum out of the PSAL. It was a competitive game throughout, but Loughlin took the win in the end 41-34. It was a good win for a Loughlin squad who is in a bounce back season after being winless last season.
The second game of that night was one of the most intriguing matchups as Our Savior Lutheran’s National team led by Seton Hall bound guard Dashawn Davis and 6-10 big man Bernard Kouma versus New Jersey State champion Roselle Catholic. Roselle featured players such as Kentucky bound forward Khalil Whitney and UNLV commit Josh Pierre Louis. The Falcons came into Barclays on a two game winning streak.
The Falcons dominated from the jump as they took advantage of The Lions slow start and got out to a double digit lead. Dashawn Davis got everyone involved on offense especially Bernard Kouma who was a force inside throughout the game. Kouma used his size advantage by scoring over defenders with put backs and short range shots. Freshman guard Jaquan Sanders picked up from where he left off from the previous game with his hot three point shooting.
The Falcons built up a 12 point lead at the half and at that point many people felt that they could easily run away with the game. Kahlil Whitney had a rough first half as he was shooting 1/13 from the field. The Lions continued to be out of sync well into the second half as OSL’s lead grew to 19. The bigger the lead the more trash talk between fans on both sides. If you never been to a game between an NYC and New Jersey team just know the trash talking gets different.
Khalil Whitney shoots over an defender on Monday night’s 75-74 win over Our Savior Lutheran. Photo Credit: Ben Berry
The second half proven to be big for senior guard Colby Rogers. The 6-4 guard was unstoppable for the Lions as they fought back hard to erase OSL’s lead. Rogers was dominant second half inspired Khalil Whitney and Josh Pierre-Louis to step their games up. Along with Rogers hot shooting, the Lions played very hard on the defensive end and forced turnovers which led to fast break dunks and layups by Whitney, and Pierre-Louis. OSL fought back hard to stop their run, but with just a few seconds remaining and the Falcons clinging to a one point lead, the Falcons were called for an offensive foul which set up the game winning tip in by Kahlil Whitney at the buzzer. The Lions won 75-74 and Khalil Whitney who finished with 25 points. Battled hard in front of his future coach John Calipari who sat courtside. Whitney who suffered a minor injury in the 2nd half, shot 7/9 from the field. Rogers who may have had one of the biggest games of his career also scored 25 points for the Lions. Josh Pierre Louis scored 15.
Despite the loss, there were some big positives for OSL in that game. Dashawn Davis continues to look a lot more comfortable playing the Point Guard position in the absence of Posh Alexander who is out for the season with a broken arm. Davis scored 15 points and dished out eight assists. Big man Bernard Kouma May have earned more offers as well as interest from colleges after his 29 point and 17 rebound performance.
In the last contest of the night Long Island Lutheran dominated The Patrick School regional team 74-52. The game was televised on the YES Network which was helpful to many people who weren’t able to attend the event. In that game the Crusaders had a balanced attack with five players scoring in double figures. Andre Curbelo led LuHi with 18 points, five rebounds and six assists. Zed Key scored 16 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
Andre Curbelo dribbling past a defender during LuHi’s 74-52 win over The Patrick School regional team. Photo credit: Ben Berry
The Kyrie Invitational was a great experience for those players who participated as well as the fans who attended. Kyrie Irving along with his dad Dedrick and god father Ron Strickland were in attendance throughout the event as well as D’Angelo Russel and Rondae Hollis Jefferson of the Brooklyn Nets were in attendance for the event. Coaches from Illinois, Rutgers, StonyBrook and others were also at the arena for the event.