Newark National Invitational
Kyrie Irving-Joe Jackson highlights the event, but Gilchrist steals the show.
by Franklyn Calle
Every single time Joe Jackson and Kyrie Irving step on the hardwood, you can expect to watch nothing but pure guard talent. But when they are on the floor at the same time and guarding each other, then you got yourself one epic battle. So the matchup was set. This past weekend, fans got a chance to watch just that when St. Patrick took on White Station HS at the Newark National Invitational. Both guards, ranked among the best in the nation, put on a show in the final match of a six-game event held at the Prudential Center. And although the featured macth-up was between the guards, it was St. Patrick’s other blue chip player, Michael Gilchrist, who stole the show in the finals minutes with the game on the line.
To start the game, St. Pats had Kevin Boyle Jr. defending Jackson although Jackson was the one guarding Irving when the Celtics were on offense. A few minutes into the game, Irving picked up the duties of containing Jackson and that’s when things began to take off. With over four minutes remaining in the first quarter, Irving stripped the ball from Jackson and led the fast-break. He would eventually get fouled at the basket and make both free-throws. The 6-3 Duke-commit came back on the defensive end and blocked a shot, leading the fast-break once again but this time dishing it out to 6-3 guard Derrick Gordon for the lay up. This sequence led by Irving was significant as it sparked a 15-6 run for St. Patrick to end the quarter.
As St. Patrick led 19-11 heading into the second quarter, it was now the other featured guard’s turn. Jackson, a 6-1 Memphis-bound point guard, quickly opened the quarter with a pull-up jumper. A few possessions later, Jackson would lay it up on Irving after a steal. A couple of possessions after, Jackson hits one from behind the perimeter. And just before heading into the locker rooms, Jackson would woo the crowed as he blew by the Celtics defense with a one-handed inside out crossover for a lay up. White Station was able to cut St. Pats lead in half at 32-28 heading into intermission.
The third quarter saw more of the Irving/Jackson (right, Irving in white and Jackson in green) show as both continued to put in work. Jackson would once again start the quarter with a basket, this time hitting the runner. A couple of possessions later, Irving would answer back with a three-pointer. But Jackson has no trouble responding as he hits a jumper off the baseline down at the other end of the floor. A few possessions later, Irving put the building on its feet with a break away two-handed dunk. Irving would follow that on St. Patrick’s next possession with a three-pointer over White Station’s Andre Hollins after hitting him with a smooth crossover, leading many of the hometown crowd on their feet once again. After a Gilchrist fadeaway jumper, Irving again would hit one from downtown to cap off a 10-3 run by St. Pats, which put them ahead 49-41. White Station would not finish the quarter quietly as they went on a 13-0 run to finish the third. Hollins, a 6-3 junior guard, was an essential part of it, hitting three consecutive 3-pointers. The Memphis’ school mega run gave them a 54-49 lead heading into the final quarter.
The final period can be summed up in two words. Michael Gilchrist (left, in white). The 6-8 top-ranked junior scored 15 of his 29 points in the last 8 minutes of play. In fact, he outscored White Station in the fourth quarter, 15-12. Gilchrist suffered a knee injury close to a month ago and was out for a couple of weeks. He didn’t quite seem to be 100% at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts, during the MLK weekend. At that very event, the Jersey forward also looked to have sprained his ankle. All of a sudden, it became unclear how long it would take for Gilchrist to get back to 100%. But after his season-high 29 points performance on Saturday night, all seems back to normal around Elizabeth, NJ. With about 5 minutes to go and White Station on top, 57-54, Gilchrist went on to work his defenders in the paint and score seven straight points to regain the lead for St. Patrick at 61-57. A 3-pointer by White Station would cut the lead to one, 61-60, with over three minutes to play. Both teams would then exchange baskets for the next couple of minutes. So with 15.8 seconds remaining and the score in St. Patrick’s favor, 64-63, Gilchrist calmly hit two free throws to put the Jersey school up by three. Jackson then answered back with a 3-pointer, making it 66 a piece with 8.2 seconds to go. Off a timeout, St. Pats inbounded the ball straight to Gilchrist who was in the paint. The highly touted junior hits the lay up and draws the foul. After missing the free throw, Jackson would be denied from even attempting a final shot. St Patrick pulls out with a 68-66 win in a nail biter.
Most Valuable Player awards were handed out to Gilchrist, who finished with 29 points and 15 rebounds, and Jackson for his 21 points and 5 assists performance. Irving finished with 16 points for St. Pats while Hollins contributed 21 points for White Station.
The game certainly lived up to its hype and more than likely this is not the last time both guards are at battle. For next time, it can only get better. As for Gilchrist, well…he proved once again why he holds the top spot.
In other results & MVPs:
St. Anthony 62, De Matha HS (MD) 60
Derrick Williams (St. Anthony)-21 points, 8 rebounds
Quinn Cook (De Matha)- 21 points, 5 steals, 4 rebounds
St. Benedict’s Prep 80, De La Salle (Il.) 50
Michael Shaw (De La Salle)- 19 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals
Myck Kabongo (St. Benedict’s)- 19 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals
Christ the King (N.Y.) 75, St. Peter’s Prep 72
Corey Edwards (Christ the King)- 14 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds , 3 steals
Myles Davis (St. Peter’s)- 31 points, 2 steals
(Girls): Malcolm X. Shabazz 53, Christ the King (N.Y.) 51
Ariel Edwards (Christ the King)- 15 points 11 rebounds
Ka-Deidre Simmons (Malcolm)- 21 points, 6 steals, 4 assists
St. Raymond’s (N.Y.) 61, University HS 52
Kazembe Abif (University HS)- 12 points, 7 rebounds
Daniel Dingle (St. Raymond’s)- 21 points