By Anthony Hidalgo
The Gary Charles Hoop Classic, a series of tournaments held around the county, brought a classic rivalry matchup to Adelphi University on Sunday between Half Hollow Hills high schools East and West.
The Thunderbirds of Hills East, led by Savion Lewis’ 23 points, defeated Hills West, 67-59. Hills East improved to 7-2 overall on the season with the win. Hills West suffered its first loss of the season, falling to 8-1.
The two teams were among the eight total that competed at Adelphi as part of the Gary Charles Hoop Classic. The tournaments are held to give local schools and players the opportunity to participate in an organized tournament and showcase their talents.
The showdown between East and West was intense from the opening tip.
Lewis, a junior guard and Division I prospect, took control early as he scored the first three baskets for the Thunderbirds. He also dished out an early assist, which contributed to his team-high total of nine dimes for the game.
However, Hills West also started strong. Senior guard Matthew Asenjo and senior forward Gaetham Fils-aime scored five and four points respectively, and Hills West ultimately led 15-14 by the end of the first quarter.
The trend continued into the second quarter. Asenjo tacked on 13 more points in the third, and Hills West junior Derek Brower Jr. scored 11 points in the quarter, including 10 straight, to help the Colts extend their lead to 36-28 by halftime.
Out of the break, Hills East looked refreshed and like it had assembled a new game plan.
After the game, head coach Peter Basel said the Thunderbirds “were getting beat on against the man on defense so we went zone and it helped us get back into the game.”
Hills East hurried out to quickly gain space on the Colts in an attempt to tie the score. Thunderbirds’ junior forward Kendall Nero-Clark help mount that push as he scored two quick buckets to cut the deficit down to 36-32.
Hills West did respond to regain the six-point lead, but Hills East’s defense got stops and steals to help the offense go on a 10-0 run late in the quarter.
“We have a lot of team speed and quickness that they have the green light to go off of a miss or a steal,” Basel said after the game.
Hills East ultimately led 49-46 at the start of the final stanza and wouldn’t look back. The Thunderbirds ultimately came away with the eight-point win, and bragging rights.
Julien Crittendon finished with 16 points and Nero-Clark finished with 12 points of his own for Hills East in the win.
Asenjo finished with a team-high 20 points and Brower finished with 18 points for the Colts.
After the game, Lewis was named MVP of the game, and Asenjo was presented with a sportsmanship award.
The Thunderbirds next faced Walt Whitman on Tuesday after deadline. Tomorrow they’ll travel to Central Islip for a scheduled 4:30 p.m. tip-off.
As for the Colts, they were set to face Bellport on Tuesday, and will next welcome East Islip for a 4 p.m. tip-off tonight.