Real ‘old school’ party
Schools’ basketball’s silver anniversary had more than its fair share of golden moments.
The best of yesteryear’s and today’s players combined for one spectacular show as a star-laden Yellow side edged an equally talent-filled Blue squad 73-71 in yesterday’s United Insurance All-Star Game at the Wildey Gymnasium.
It was in celebration of the tournament’s 25 years, which would have seen the likes of current Premier League stars Jeremy Gill, Zahir Motara, Pearson Griffith, Charles Vanderpool and Ian Alexander thrill many a spectator in years gone by.
And they wasted no time in doing so again, with Vanderpool and Alexander leading a dunk fest for the high-flying Yellow side inclusive of reverse throw-downs and a half-court alley-oop lob from Gill.
But Motara wasn’t to be outdone at the other end after routinely breaking down defenders off the dribble while flashing no-look passes like the one that found a cutting Greig Springer for a layup on the baseline in the first quarter.
Even Queen’s College coach and former Clapham star Ryan Holford got in on the act, drilling a long triple before Vanderpool added a thunderous tomahawk dunk to pad Yellow’s initial 29-22 cushion.
Griffith immediately answered with a massive throw-down of his own, and then crafty Harrison College playmaker Anand Joseph-Thorne hooked up with Daniel Lovell for a reverse layup off an alley-oop as part of a big Blue rally.
Blue even took a 36-34 lead following a series of missed dunks by Alexander and a muffed layup off a pristine layoff from Gill that he dropped through the legs for the trailing Lakers forward.
Alexander further blew a pinpoint toss from Gill and then botched what would’ve been a stunning windmill attempt until finally making up for those gaffes by finishing a spectacular reverse to put Yellow back ahead 52-48.
Gill quickly followed with a deep trey from about 30 feet away as Yellow went up 57-50 before Joseph-Thorne countered with a nifty euro-step move and another knifing reverse layup that pulled Blue within two.
The two sides were content with the younger players being on court for the bulk of minutes in the fourth quarter and trading baskets right up until St Leonard’s Antoine Lawrence drilled a game-tying triple (69-69) for Blue inside the final two minutes.
Vanderpool quickly got away on the ensuing possession, which ended up with a crowd-pleasing reverse slam off a deep lob from Gill on the break, and Alexander followed up with another layup to seal the deal for Yellow.
George Shepherd and Derek Aimey, the first two head coaches of the Premier League schoolboy squad, served as the game’s signal callers while United Insurance’s Anthony Forde tossed up the ceremonial jump ball.