by Jay Wallis / @JayWallis11
Team NIKE Black 104, Team NIKE White 102 (OT)
This was nothing more than a simple scrimmage with no real significance compared to the other games and tournaments these men are playing in. All of these players, though, are striving to be one of the 10 Team NIKE members by summer’s end, and the effort level throughout the game proved to be very high.
“This was an all-around team-basketball game by both sides that also stayed close,” Kirk Williams said.
Team NIKE Black pulled out a 104-102 overtime victory against Team NIKE White as Justin Burrell tipped in a missed shot at the buzzer for the win. While Burrell commanded the paint during this back-and-forth battle, Jeremy Hazell caught fire and never cooled down, finishing with 26 points and sinking 7 three-pointers in the process.
“That’s what I’m out here for—to shoot the ball,” Hazell said. “My point guard got me going in this game, and I just kept shooting when I got open looks.”
Right off the bat, Kenny Satterfield showed his ability to be a floor general as he threw an alley-oop to give Team NIKE White the first points of the game. The 32-year-old might not have the quick first step he had early on in his playing days but he certainly hasn’t lost the ability to see a play before it develops.
“It’s a part of my game,” Satterfield said about acting as a distributor. “Some guys do things better than others, so when I get a bunch of scorers like today, I try to play off them and continue passing the ball in spots where they like getting the ball.”
There was plenty of effort early on, but the play was sloppy from both teams. The first six minutes of the game consisted mostly of forced isolation plays and turnovers. However, once both teams started to get a feel for their teammates and their shots started to fall, the flow of the game became much smoother and easier to watch.
Kinu Rochford gave Team NIKE White a huge presence down low early on, scoring 8 first-quarter points all in the paint and had the buzzer-beating bucket to give his team the 17-15 lead going into the second quarter.
“I work on my low-post game at school all the time—that’s my game,” Rochford said. “I double jump and I keep putting it up there. And I try to get rebounds. That’s what I’m there for—to bring to the team every time out there.”
Team NIKE White started out the second quarter hot with a 10-0 run, sparked by Kirk Williams, who had 8 of his 10 first-half points in this second quarter. However, Hazell and Burrell decided to take this quarter over once their team fell behind by double-digits. It felt like two-on-five basketball out there. With Hazell putting in four three-pointers and Burrell coming up big under the basket with four of his own buckets, Team NIKE Black played inside-out and cut the deficit to 43-42 by halftime.
“I’m still rehabbing over my left ankle, so I’m not able to do too much vertically like I’d like to,” Burrell said. “But for the most part, I think I did a good job of being a paint presence and staying comfortable in what I was doing.”
Before the game, most of the players were laughing and ready to play a friendly scrimmage; however, by halftime, players and coaches from both teams began getting serious in their discussions about how to beat their opponent. Point guard Gary Erving and Hazell were debating the best way to continue getting Hazell the ball behind the three-point line.
The second half started with yet another post move and score by Rochford. He might not be the most athletic guy out there, but he certainly has the footwork and finishing ability to be a dominant big man. His best sequence of plays came when he got an offensive rebound and putback followed by a steal on the other end and a crisp outlet pass for a flush, giving Team NIKE White an eight-point lead.
“I felt privileged to play with my teammates today,” Rochford said. “It was my first time, and I think I played alright. I tried my best to bring energy and crash the boards hard like I always try to do.”
Zamal Nixon responded by draining two straight pull-up jumpers, showing the crowd his smooth stroke. However, after a scoreboard malfunction in which Team NIKE White was given points for Nixon’s second jumper, frustration began to build. It might have been due to the fact that both of these teams were Team NIKE, but there were multiple scoreboard mistakes made throughout the game. For the players, this distraction made it difficult to focus on the game and not to focus on who was getting points added to their score. It wasn’t until a few minutes later when Vernon Goodridge powerfully swatted a ball off the court that the complaining died down. And, to no one’s surprise, the quarter ended with a Hazell three-pointer. He was in one of those zones where everybody knew the ball was going in right as he released it.
Even though Team NIKE Black was behind 67-65 at the end of the third quarter, whether or not it was because of the faulty scoring system, it felt as though they were controlling the game’s pace. If they could find a way to control their frustration and cut down on their turnovers, Team NIKE Black would win the game.
Lou McCroskey started off the fourth quarter with a strong drive to the hoop, extending Team NIKE White’s lead to 69-65. McCroskey, along with teammate Vernon Teel, didn’t score that often but showed solid ball handling during this final quarter. Gary Erving, on the other hand, often found himself out of control, which led to many turnovers. As the fourth quarter and overtime progressed, however, he began doing a better job of controlling his play.
After Hazell made 2-of-2 from the free-throw line, Team NIKE Black was supposed to take a 72-71 lead…but Team NIKE White received the points for some reason and took the lead instead. For obvious reasons, Hazell and his teammates became distracted during the next few minutes as they tried to understand from the scorekeepers how they were all of sudden down. This led to an 11-3 run by Team NIKE White. Satterfield capped it off by draining one of his four three-pointers from way downtown. He finished the game with 17 points.
After Jeff McDermott, who relentlessly brought energy on both ends of the court, made 2-of-2 free throws to tie this game 87-87 with 1:29 to go, it happened. The slam dunk happened.
There are certain dynamic dunks that force players and fans alike to stand up and start holding back the person they are next to in both appreciation and disgust. Curt Kelly of Team NIKE Black had one of these dunks when he froze in the air, posed for a picture and threw down a tomahawk dunk all over Satterfield and Team NIKE White. The crowd erupted.
“It felt okay,” Kelly said with a smile. “I wish it was on somebody bigger, but I guess it felt alright. It helped the crowd, things got live and we came back to win it in OT. I’m happy about it.”
“Both of those fellas are my boys,” Kirk Williams said while laughing. “So you know, a dunk is a dunk. That’s all I gotta say about that.”
But just as he has shown time and time again during his illustrious streetball career, Satterfield was not shaken by this earth-shattering dunk. Down by three points with the game’s final seconds winding down, Satterfield lined up his shot and drained a huge three-pointer to tie the game 91-91 and send this competitive scrimmage to overtime.
“If that shot presents itself, I’m on the court and I’m fortunate enough to get open, then I know I’m gonna take that shot,” Satterfield said. “I’m not gonna force it, but if I’m on the court and get enough space, I’m gonna take it.”
This game had reached the point where both teams really wanted this, especially Kelly, who emphatically said, “we need this” before overtime began.
Erving had finally settled into his game and looked to be taking charge, giving Team NIKE Black a quick 96-91 lead a minute into overtime.
After another scoreboard malfunction in which each team somehow gained a point, the game was knotted up at 102-102 with five seconds to go. In a very fitting way for Burrell, he had yet another offensive board and putback to close this game out and give Team NIKE Black the 104-102 victory. It might just be a scrimmage but this coincides with Burrell’s summer plans.
“I just want to win everything that I participate in,” Burrell said. “That’s the biggest goal—to win, win, win.”