After a week off, the Respect Hoops Game of the Week Series returned Wednesday night with a double header featuring some of the area's top programs and players. The first game of the night featured a 14u matchup between the CT Wildcats and the New England Blue Chips, where we saw the Blue Chips come out victorious by a score of 68-33. The intimidating full court press by the Blue Chips was the story of the game, as it posed to be too much for the Wildcats to handle. They were able to speed up the pace of the game and capitalize off turnovers, allowing them to open up the lead early and never look back.
Despite being undersized, the Blue Chips are disciplined, unselfish and versatile across the board. Chase Geremia is a perfect example of his team's identity, and was named Player of the Game after leading the way with a game high 17 points. Due to his size he is forced to play inside for his team, but he has perimeter skills that will help his game translate to the next level. He is a knock down shooter off the catch, and has good passing instincts which were on full display when he was at the high post against the Wildcat’s 2-3 zone. Cameron Upchurch was huge for the Blue Chips as well, starting the game off with a quick 10 points to help establish the lead early. He was able to knock down a pair of 3 pointers and get some easy looks in transition to help lead his team to a 17-0 start to the game. Abdou Toure impressed for the Blue Chips as well, anchoring their defense inside and controlling the glass on both ends of the floor.
Despite the loss, the CT Wildcats had a handful of impressive performances as well. Michael Mazzola was a huge spark off the bench, leading the way with a team high 10 points and scoring in a variety of ways. Tyler Wethington is a pure point guard with a crafty handle who did everything he could to neutralize the intense full court pressure by the Blue Chips. Rocco Perrito provided a spark off the bench as well with a couple quick buckets, despite being one of the youngest players on the floor. Although it was a lopsided final score, a ton of talent was on display. Here were some of the game’s top performers:
New England Blue Chips 14u:
Chase Geremia (G/F) - Geremia is a versatile hybrid forward with some guard skills. He affects the game in a lot of ways with his scoring, rebounding, and passing. He has a consistent jump shot with great form which will translate well to the high school level. If he continues to work on his handle, he will be a prospect to keep an eye out for in the next couple of years. Named Player of the Game after finishing with a game high 17 points.
Cameron Upchurch (G) - Upchurch is an explosive scoring guard who was the spark that helped open up the lead early in the game. He has a quick first step in transition which helps him beat defenders to the rim and can finish with either hand. He also showed the ability to knock down shots from the perimeter off the catch and off the dribble.
Abdou Toure (F) - An athletic and versatile forward, Toure was able to dominate the glass at both ends of the floor. He was the anchor for the Blue Chips’ defense in the paint and is athletic enough to defend on the perimeter as well. He has a knack for tracking down misses and scoring off offensive rebounds.
Bobby Moore (G) - Moore is a scoring guard who has great size and length for his position. He is able to get in the lane effectively and finish through contact. He even showed the ability to knock down some shots from the outside at the end of the game. He finished with 14 points for the game.
CT Wildcats 14u:
Michael Mazzola (G) - Mazzola provided a spark off the bench, leading the way with a team high 10 points. He came into the game confident and was not afraid to go at the Blue Chips defenders. He has a crafty handle which he uses to get by defenders despite his lack of quickness, and has a knack for getting to the free throw line. He did most of his damage from deep, knocking down a pair of 3 pointers.
Tyler Wethington (G) - Wethington is a pure point guard with a very solid handle. He has good dribble moves which he uses to get by defenders and has a nice pull up in the paint. Once the game slowed down for him in the second half, he did a great job of breaking the press and finding open teammates in the frontcourt.
Caleb Carter (G/F) - Carter is a powerful guard who is relentless in attacking the rim and loves to initiate contact. There was a couple series where he was able to gather his own misses and end up at the free throw line. His combination of size and strength on the perimeter provided a tough matchup for the Blue Chips.
Rocco Perrito (G) - Despite playing up an age group, Perrito was still able to contribute in a valuable way. He provided a much needed scoring boost off the bench. He’s at his best shooting from the perimeter, but showed some ability to move without the ball and get himself some easy layups off of cuts.
In the night cap, Mustapha Heron Skills Academy traveled down from Waterbury to take on WE-R1 in a high level 16u matchup. After coming out victorious in a close game 2 weeks ago, WE-R1 was able to capture that same magic on Wednesday night as Mustapha Heron Skills were able to secure the win by a score of 75-49.
MHSA is a complete team filled with college prospects and coached like a college program. Their combination of size, shooting, unselfishness, and discipline on the offensive end make them a tough team to beat. The key to the win was their execution on offense, running intricate sets filled with off ball actions and cuts. Jacob Henderson led the way for MHSA and was the engine that made his squad go. He is a lead guard who has great instincts and set up his teammates for easy looks throughout the game. The versatile frontcourt tandem of Tyler Betsy and Johnny Pierce are 2 high level college prospects who have skills that are unteachable. They were able to dominate the paint and play above the rim but also show their perimeter skills as well; handling the ball often and knocking down 3 points efficiently. Tony Williams and Arik Dagan were able to fill it up from the 3 point line as well, combining for 6 for the game.
On the other end, WE-R1 was hit hard by some injuries to some key players which prevented this game from being more competitive. Juan Dancy and Elijah Holder went down with injuries early and MHSA was able to take advantage of the key losses. Anthony Nimani, who was Player of the Game 2 weeks ago, did everything he could to keep his team in the game. He picked up right from where he left off, attacking the rim and finishing over bigger defenders and hitting shots from mid range consistently. Mehki Anderson continued to impress as well. He didn’t shy away from going at MHSA’s big men and got to the free throw line frequently. Although this one was a lopsided final score as well, a ton of talent was on display. Here were some of the game’s top performers:
Mustapha Heron Skills Academy 16u:
Tyler Betsy (G/F) - Coming into the game with a handful of Division 1 offers, Betsy proved why. He is a legit 6-6-6’7 with a refined perimeter game. He shoots well off the catch, off the dribble and even brings the ball up to set up the offense occasionally. He is also active on the glass and has good instincts and versatility on the defensive end as well.
Jacob Henderson (G) - Henderson is a stocky lead guard who has great court vision and a high basketball IQ. He doesn’t waste any dribbles and is great at creating scoring opportunities for himself without the ball in his hands. He finishes well around the rim even at awkward angles. Finished the game with a good handful of assists. Henderson was named Player of Game after his performance.
Johnny Pierce (G/F) - Pierce is still relatively raw, but has all the intangibles that you would look for in a high major prospect. He has great size, length, and athleticism. Similar to Betsy, Pierce has a great combination of size and perimeter skills which he displayed by knocking down a pair of 3 pointers. Pierce is definitely a player to look out for in the next couple of years.
Arik Dagen (G) - Dagen is a pure 3 point shooter with great form and a quick release. His hands and feet are ready to shoot at all times and he helps spread the floor for his teammates. He particularly loves the corner three in looking for his shot in transition.
Anthony Nimani (G) - Nimani picked up right from where he left off last week. He got hot quickly in the first half and did everything he could to put his team on his back. He has a strong IQ on both ends of the floor and is a true floor general. He’s strong enough to finish through contact at the rim and has a great pull up jumper from mid range.
Mehki Anderson (F) - Anderson didn’t back down from the MHSA bigs and was in attack mode all game. That showed in the box score as he attempted 12 free throws on the night. He loves to push the ball himself in transition and showed the ability to consistently hit the mid post jumper throughout the last 2 weeks.
Bryce Anderson (F) - Anderson is a physical lefty big man who can also stretch the floor. He is an efficient rebounder and physical presence inside. One thing he displayed this week that set him apart was his ability to knock down the mid range jumper and even extend back to the 3 point line.
Elijah Holder (G/F) - Despite being hindered by an injury, Holder was still impressive in his short playing time. He’s an athletic hybrid forward who is still developing his perimeter skills. In the last 2 weeks he showed that his jump shot is improving and that he can guard almost every position on the court.