BLOOMFIELD, NJ – After trailing by as many as 12 points, the Bengals rallied in dramatic fashion to claim a 43-39 victory over West Side of Newark in the semifinals of the Bloomfield Basketball Summer League Tournament today at Bloomfield High School.
It was a tale of three games, as the opening 10-minutes of the first half saw evenly matched play with the Bengals leading 8-7.
The final 10-minutes of the first half (two, 20-minute half’s are played in the summer league) saw the up tempo West Side squad explode on a 15-2 run, including a 9-0 spirt, to take a 22-10 lead. The Bengals regained some momentum with a 5-2 run to narrow the deficit to 9 points, 24-15, at halftime.
The second half featured hard-fought, back and forth action with the Bengals regaining the lead 32-31 after a Chino Anyanwu three-pointer.
The teams traded the lead three more times until West Side hit a three-pointer to go up 39-36 with 1:45 remaining.
Vernon Lee picked up a field goal to get the Bengals within one point, 39-38, with 1:24 to go.
After a defensive stop, Khayne Tucker nailed a three-pointer to put the Bengals up 41-39 with less than a minute left. Andre Dean clinched the win with a layup in the final moments as Bloomfield advances to the Finals with the 43-39 victory.
“Any time you play West Side, whether it’s in the summer or in the regular season, it’s tough – you know what you are going to get and that’s good, tough kids who play real hard,” Bengals Head Coach Michael Passero told TAP. “They jumped on us a little bit but our kids showed a lot of resiliency. We weathered a couple of storms, took a couple of punches and hung in there.”
Passero added, “collectively, they did a really nice job. We had a lot of guys, in spirts, do a lot of good things. Chino hit two big three-pointers to get us back in the game, and Andre’s offensive rebounding and put backs helped when we are down by one-point, and Khayne make a big three-pointer.”
The Bengals advance to the finals later tonight at 7 pm against the winner of the Verona versus Newark Tech game that is being played right now at Bloomfield High School.
20 teams participated in the annual summer league that began June 10. High schools include Becton, Belleville, Bloomfield, Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Clifton, Elizabeth, Glen Ridge, Hasbrouck Heights, Livingston, Manchester Regional, Millburn, Montclair Kimberly Academy, Morristown-Beard, Newark Tech, Nutley, Seton Hall Prep, Verona, West Essex, and West Side.
After five weeks of regular play in the Summer League, the teams were seeded by record in an elimination tournament.
The Bengals defeated Millburn on Monday, July 22 in the first-round, then defeated Becton in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, July 24 to advance to Thursday’s semifinal tilt against West Side.