Ranney School’s Scottie Lewis was one of many standout players at Sunday’s Empire Invitational.
In its third year, the Empire Invitational has become one of the most anticipated events of the High school basketball season. The game went through some significant changes as it moved from its original site Adelphi University in Long Island to Iona Prep in New Rochelle and Mount St. Michael Academy in the Bronx.
The third year of this event founded and organized by Pat Lawless a scout and editor of Prep Circuit Magazine has expanded to games which include some of the best players in the tri-State area and in the nation.
In Day one of the 2019 Empire invitational Lawrence Woodmere and Wings Academy came away with some hard-fought wins against John Bowne and Iona respectively.
Day two of the Empire Invitational at Mount St. Michael Academy started with The Masters’ school (CT) dominating Blair Academy out of New Jersey 79-59. In that game, Cairo McCrory led a balanced Masters School team with 20 points 7 boards and five assists.
The second game featured two National Prep powerhouses Westtown School (PA) and Brewster Academy (NH) out of the NEPSAC. The game remained close throughout until midway through the second half when the Moose pulled away behind a high performance from UConn Commit Jalen Gaffney who scored 26 points en route to a 79-72 win. Syracuse Commit Jon Bol Ajak and Sophomore big man Franck Kepang Had some big performances as well.
UConn Commit Jalen Gaffney scored Earned MVP Honors after a 26 point performance against Brewster Academy.
The third game featured the NY State champions Archbishop Stepinac high school against the NJ state champion Roselle Catholic. Led by 24 points and 11 boards by Kentucky Commit Khalil Whitney. The Lions were able to outlast Stepinac 70-60. Despite the loss, Stepinac junior guard RJ Davis scored 29 points and led a huge run against the Lions in the second half.
Now for the game of the Day. The Macduffie Mustangs out of the NEPSAC are used to going up against the best prep teams on a nightly basis which prepared them for their battle against the Ranney School out of New Jersey. It was a homecoming for many of the players on both teams. Scottie Lewis, a Bronx Native, played in the Bronx with his high school team for the first time in his high school career. The Macduffie school features several players from the NYC area. UConn Commit James Bouknight along with Chad Venning and Richie Springs are from Brooklyn while Wake forest Commit Ishmael Massoud is from Harlem.
Bryan Antoine going up for the two handed slam Photo Credit: Hector Martinez/Moving Pictures
It was a tight battle back and forth throughout but thanks to some late-game execution from Macduffie and a big game from Ishmael Massoud, Macduffie was able to edge Ranney School 79-75. Massoud earned MVP honors by scoring 26 points. Massoud was having one of the biggest games of his high school career at Mount St. Michael brings back memories for the 6-7 forward. Back in 2016, Massoud helped led his old school Cardinal Hayes to the NY AA Archdiocesan championship in the same gym.
Ishmael Massoud went off for 26 points in the big win over Ranney School
Speaking of Hayes, the Cardinals has a significant test on their hands against one of the top offensive teams in the PSAL the Orange Wave of Thomas Jefferson High school. With Hayes leading 65-52 early in the fourth quarter, the Orange Wave would outscore Hayes 28-15 the rest of the way to tie the game at 80 and send it into overtime. Leading the comeback for the Orange Wave was Sophomore PG Jaquan Carlos who went on a test late and scored the game-tying layup with seconds remaining in regulation. Jefferson’s late-game heroics weren’t enough as Hayes went on to hang on and win 85-83 in Overtime. Jaquan Carlos went off for 36 points in the loss for Jefferson. MVP Honors went to Adam Cisse who scored 15 points grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked five shots in the win.
To close out the Empire Invitational The host team Mount Saint Michael defeated Eagle Academy (Bronx) 59-48. Bryant University commit Mike Green III scored 23 points to lead the Mountaineers.
Mike Green scored 23 points and earned MVP honors after the game. Photo Credit: Shayla Diaz
Tons of College coaches from all levels and NYC basketball legend and Program Manager of the NBA G-league’s professional path program Rod Strickland were in attendance on Sunday. Year three of the Empire Invitational attracted a record amount of fans and has proved to be one of the best high school basketball events of the season.