Last Updated: 1:14 AM, July 2, 2012
Posted: 12:59 AM, July 2, 2012
There is a reason why Gauchos 14U coach Paul Suber entered his team into the "I Got You" middle school boys basketball tournament at Boys & Girls.
“They know in Brooklyn they generally are the tougher kids,” the father of former Lincoln guard Da'Shawn Suber said. “We come here to try to battle and take from Brooklyn. ... This is Brooklyn. This is a hardcore style of basketball.”
His squad got what it came for, beating a talented New Heights team, 82-71, in the final at the home of the defending state Federation Class AA champions on Saturday. The two-year-old tournament, which includes 20 teams, showcase a large number of the area’s top eighth graders who will attend many of the city’s elite high schools next season.
“The tournament is supposed to be the best tournament in the tri-state area,” said Gauchos wing Ray Salnave, who is considering Holy Cross and Elmont. “To win that, that’s a lot of bragging rights for our team."
The Gauchos used a 10-0 fourth quarter run to grab a 69-60 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Cardinal Hayes-bound point guard Baron Goodridge scored six straight points and nine of his 15 in the final frame to pull New Heights within four with 2:00 left, but the Gauchos held on. Mark Martin, who will pick between Mount St. Michael and Mount Vernon, garnered MVP honors by using his mid-range game to drop in a game high 23 points despite battling cramps.
“I felt like I got paid,” Martin said of the trophies and free Gatorade he earned for being named MVP. “I worked for it. I deserved it.”
Mustapha Hernon, a 6-foot-4 wing from Meriden, Conn, had 17 points and George Pena added 11 for the Gauchos. Marques Drakesford paced New Heights, which won the Thomas Jefferson middle school tourney on Friday night, with 19 points and Isaiah Branch added 17. Both are headed to Cardinal Hayes while Heron is one of the nation’s top eighth-grade prospects, has even played in some 17U tournaments and will attend Capital Prep (Conn.) next year.
“This is a different-type game,” he said. “It’s faster. It’s tougher. Everybody plays hard.”
That’s exactly the type of environment Boys & Girls assistant coach Elmer Anderson, who serves as commissioner, MC and DJ, wanted to create when he began the tournament. He felt there were a lack of leagues in New York City that offer middle school kids exposure and a chance to play against top competition at a high school venue.
“We know we can provide them with a lot of attention,” Anderson said. “Sometimes they only get it with their AAU teams.”
The league, which runs for seven weekends starting in May, brings a number of high school coaches to the gym, Anderson said. It includes AAU teams such as the Gaucho, New Heights and Long Island Lighting, along with youth organizations like the X-Men and Brooklyn Kings and also regular middle school teams. His motto of "We keep it simple, You make it special," is on the back of the tournament‘s jerseys.
“It’s all about the kids,” Anderson said.