Photo courtesy of Bryant Alexander.
By David Cordova
The summer of 2017 was one of the biggest summers ever on the high school scene in New York City. It’s all for one reason and one reason only, the New York vs. New York tournament as part of Nike’s marketing campaign, Rise For NY.
The tournament, which was put together by Nike Basketball and Game Seven Marketing, showcased five teams from the city’s best tournaments that are under the Swoosh umbrella: Watson Basketball Classic (The Bronx), Dyckman (Inwood, Manhattan), West 4th Street (Greenwich Village, Manhattan), Tri-State Classic (Harlem, Manhattan) and Gersh Park (Brooklyn).
Starting on June 24th at the K.A.W.S. Court in the Lower East Side section of Manhattan, the teams played in a tournament in every park. All of the teams had either marquee names or hidden gems, but when it was time to get ready for action, names didn’t matter as much. The only thing that mattered was the end result, a win.
In an era in which pro-am (also known as unlimited) basketball has all but fallen to the wayside, the high school basketball scene has taken over the playgrounds by storm. As the Rise For NY tournament hit every park, the crowds were immense and intense, and the players brought a lot of excitement.
At the end of the regular season, only four teams remained as Watson became the first team to make an early exit. In the semifinals, played on August 3rd at Dyckman, the excitement was turned up a notch. But the stakes were also high. Gersh Park came uptown and dominated from start to finish in the first semifinal game, defeating Tri-State in a 17-point victory, 79-62. In the main event, it was a much closer affair, as there was plenty of moments in which both teams traded leads, but in the end, Dyckman emerged victorious, edging out West 4th by four, 63-59.
Championship Saturday emerged on August 5th at Dyckman as the crowds came out for one final jam-packed day. There were three exciting games going on that day. The first was the Futures Game, which highlighted the best rising high school freshmen in the tri-state area. Future NYC ran off with the victory, 64-59 over Future Dyckman as Hudson Catholic’s Shane Dezonie went off for 16 points and six rebounds for Future NYC & Future Dyckman was led by Jonathan Kumiga of Iona Prep with 21 points and nine rebounds.
In the second game, the Chosen League of Philadelphia went up against the NY Made team. The team from the City of Brotherly Love came out and dominated against the team from the Big Apple as they ended up winning by twelve, 64-52. Eric Dixon of Abington Friends School scored 20 points and added five rebounds, while Rheaquone Taylor, formerly of Our Saviour Lutheran High School and bound for Hutchinson Community College in the fall, led with 15 points.
Then came the finale, the battle between Gersh Park & Dyckman, the home team. Celebrities such as the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony and rappers such as Juelz Santana and A-Boogie Wit Da Hoodie added excitement to the already-raucous crowd. But now it was time for a champion to be crowned.
Throughout the game, the heavily-favored and undefeated Dyckman was mostly in control. But then missed free throws and Gersh’s resiliency led them to make a comeback in the fourth quarter and then sent the game into overtime. In the extra session, both teams battled back-and-forth, but then Gersh thrived on their momentum and would not relinquish the lead as Dyckman ran out of steam.
The made free throws by Gersh sent them home winners with a 59-56 victory as the team from Brooklyn came uptown and accomplished their mission, winning the title and staking their claim as the best high school team in the city. Jared Rhoden of Our Saviour Lutheran High School led Gersh with 20 points and eight rebounds. Jawaun Daniels, formerly of Teaneck High School and now headed for Pratt Community College in Kansas this fall, scored 25 points for Dyckman.
Daniels, who had an impressive summer in the tournament thus far, ended up winning the Nike Player of the Summer award. The other award winner was Tilquan Rucker, the former guard at South Bronx Prepatory School, who led the PSAL in scoring with 36 points per game, won the Nike Most Improved Player award.
It was a fitting end to a great summer of basketball. Will there ever be another tournament like New York vs. New York? Only time will tell. But what will be missed is the roars from the crowd, DJ Authroize making the games feel like a day at the ballpark at Yankee Stadium with his mastery on the turntables and the great game-calling on the turntables by famed emcee David “Cha Ching” Teele.
For a total of six weeks this sumemr, Nike provided the community with a great show and entertainment, and thus, it will be a summer to remember.
Highlights of New York vs. New York/Rise For NY Tournament:
Courtesy of NJ Hoop Recruit.
Courtesy of Madison Basketball Alliance.
Courtesy of For the Culture Hoops.
Courtesy of For the Culture Hoops.