What’s better than having one of our 15u Edge teams make it into the championship round? How about both of them? Well that’s exactly what happened this weekend at Westchester Elite’s Hardwood Classic held in Yonkers, New York. The 15u West, coached by Matt Moore, and the the 15u East, coached by Brandon Breitfeller, found themselves in an unlikely position after each team won their respective pools. “With having multiple Edge teams in each age division, there is always that chance that two of our own teams could wind up playing each other,” said Jim Santoro. “Although we ask the tournament directors to try to avoid that from happening, this time it’s a good thing.”
Although the East won their pool by winning their first two games on Saturday, they entered the championship round after a tough loss earlier in the day. Coach Santoro had to take the reigns for 15u East until Breitfeller arrived. “Brandon also coaches our 17u team and the gym they were playing in was behind,” said Santoro. “The first half was very physical and I thought it might effect them later in the day,” he added. Coach Breitfeller arrived for the second half. “It was a tough loss for us, but I knew we would bounce back,” Breitfeller said. The fact that they were playing their close relatives in the championship game was sure to fuel that confidence!
“The championship game was everything you would want to see in the finals…..and then some!,” said Coach Breitfeller. His team was down most of the game and trailed by as many as eight points but never lost their composure. They took their first lead behind a pair of threes by Nick Fasone and Randy Strom with four minutes left. That lead expanded to 45-38 with just under three minutes to go. But with plenty of time remaining, the west came storming back behind a few turnovers, capped off by an Andrew Barry (15u West) steal and converted layup to cut the lead to one at 45-44 at the one minute mark. Coming out of a timeout, the East was able to run the clock down but then turned it over with 20 seconds left on the clock. Coach Moore called a timeout to set up the final shot. That shot was taken by Ken Massaria, but fell short. Peter Gregory grabbed the rebound with 5 seconds remaining and with no timeouts left attempted a pass that was deflected out of bounds by the West’s Aden Gilmore. “The ensuing inbounds was a struggle and we got it in to Peter who was then stripped by Aden who split a double team and attempted a shot at the buzzer that Peter blocked to end the game,” recalled Breitfeller who was filled with excitement.
“As you can tell the game was very exciting! I couldn’t be more happy for my boys who trailed most of the game. You can’t get much better than that. It’s a very hard thing to do in your first tournament. We won by doing it the right way this weekend. We played defense the whole game. Of course at times it wasn’t perfect but for only to be the first tournament and not allow more than 50 points in a game is pretty impressive. I’m super excited to get back to work this week and hopefully we can bring this momentum into the Albany tournament,” Breitfeller said.
Although the West fell short, it is pretty impressive for them to make it to the finals in their first outing as well. “For the most part, these two groups practice together during the week so they know each other quite well,” said Santoro. “I am very pleased and proud of both teams and how the athletes performed this weekend.” Congratulations to both!