The final day of the Warmup here at Imhotep Charter and these were the teams and players who aquitted themselves well as we inch closer to the start of the HS regular season.

Game #1 St. Benedict's Prep (NJ) – 57 Our Savior Lutheran (NY) – 55

High level basketball was played here and it came down to the final minute before a victor was decided. The game got off to a rocky start however as 5'11' '20 Posh Alexander from OSL and 6'2' '19 Jake Betlow (Lehigh) got tangled up near the sideline and sadly a few punches were thrown but the officials intervened and both players were banished to the bench for the remainder of the first half. Both teams took turns in the half trying to gain control but neither one could gain more than a six point edge setting up an exciting second frame. Coming down the stretch the Gray Bees gained the advantage behind the long distance shooting of 6'5' '20 CJ Wilcher who banged down 4 treys on his way to 21pts and 6'3' '19 Aaron Estrada had 10pts and 2 treys in the win. Wilcher has a reputation as a shooter but he's starting to expand his game to include scoring off the bounce inside or pulling up in space to knock down midrange jumpers and he had those facets working today. Estrada transferred here after the debacle at his former school Woodbury HS after his coach was fired for sitting on his teams bench at a team camp which is prohibited under NJSIAA rules. He had stretches where he looked really good handling the ball and making crisp passes to his teammates then he would struggle a bit as he was still trying to fill an unfamiliar role and I suspect that will smooth itself out as the season draws closer. They got strong efforts from two more transfers as 6'6' '19 Supreme Cook (East Orange Campus HS) and 6'4' '20 Zarique Nutter (Newark Central HS) were active on both ends getting opportunity baskets and playing solid defense. Betlow also did a nice job in the 2nd half with 3asts and 0 turnovers. For OSL 6'1' '19 Dashawn Davis led with 23pts 3stls and some of his baskets were acrobatic layups that he finished thru contact. He passed the ball well and as always was very good defending the ball. Strangely he missed 3-4 from the line in the final minutes of the game including the front end of a 1 and 1 that virtually ended their chance of forcing OT. Alexander bounced back with 10pts 3asts and 3stls in the 2nd half as he got back to being his jet quick self and 6'9' '19 Bernard Kouma was excellent on the glass grabbing 11 caroms to aid the cause.

Game #2 Sankofa Freedom Charter – 57 St. Georges Technical HS (DE) – 39

Sankofa looked shell shocked in the opening minutes of the game as 6'4' '19 Nashon 'Bones' Hyland came out on fire and drilled 4 of his first 5 three balls most from way beyond the line as the Hawks took an early lead. They of course settled in and started to ramp up the defensive pressure and went into the half up ten. They held Hyland to one 2nd half trey in grabbing a 20 point lead and holding it to the final horn. 6'3' '19 Scott Spann was his normal stat producing self leading the Warriors with 21pts 11reb. He got plenty of help as 6'5' '20 Derrius Ward had 16pts 2 treys and 6'7' '19 Khalil Turner added 11pts 6reb 4stls and 2blks in a well rounded performance. 5'8' '19 Kobe Devine played a supporting role in the scoring department but was effective moving the ball and handling vs. pressure while contributing 4asts and 3stls to the cause. Hyland led all scorers in the contest with 24pts 5 treys and 5reb in the loss but the important thing was that he was moving well all over the court and was easily making the transition from offense to defense without issue. He suffered an ankle injury which required surgery after a tragic fire that took the life of a family member at the beginning of spring and missed the whole grassroots season because of it. The Hawks were missing a few guys which impacted the outcome but with Bones looking close to 100% I'm sure the coaches will chalk this up as a learning experience.

Game #3 Imhotep Charter – 41 St. Benedict's Prep (NJ) – 39

The final game of the event was a barn burner that saw the host squad come out on top despite missing two starters in 6'7' '19 Donta Scott (Hand) and 6'5' '19 Dhamir Bishop (Boot) an Xavier commit. Defense was a priority for both teams and the physical nature of the game gave it a regular season feel as both teams forced turnovers and made you earn everything you got. 6'6' '19 Chereef Knox played the hero role in this one getting the tying basket in the final minute off a nice feed from 5'8' '19 Fatayn Wesley (7pts 3asts 3stls) to hit the short baseline jumper and draw the and 1. He did miss the FT but after an errant inbound pass and a steal by Wesley the Panthers got a chance to take the lead and Knox took advantage knocking down an off the catch elbow jump shot (from Wesley again) to give them a 2 point lead with little time remaining. The Gray Bees didn't help themselves by missing 4-5 FT's that gave Imhotep the opening they needed to win the game. 6'8' '20 Elijah Taylor had a solid game with 13pts 6reb and 2blks and 6'6' '19 Jamil Riggins (Binghamton) added 9pts 5reb and a huge steal with 30 seconds left in regulation. 6'1' '20 Barre N'Jie was a whirlwind of activity for the Gray Bees throughout the contest causing chaos all over the floor. He ended up with 9pts 4asts and caused at least 5 turnovers with his speed and anticipation. 6'5' '20 CJ Wilcher hit two treys early but the Panthers were able to keep him in check the rest of the game and 6'3' '19 Aaron Estrada added 8pts but appeared to twist his ankle and went to the bench and sat out the final minutes. This wraps up our coverage of Philly USA Basketball's The Warmup.

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