Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — in a Philly-dominated weekend that had already seen the Phillies win Game 3 of the World Series and the Eagles emerge victorious at home, it seemed only fitting that three groups of high school basketball players would continue the trend.
The Philly seniors, juniors and sophomores swept their counterparts from Jersey in the 6th Annual Eddie Griffin Challenge on Sunday at the Rutgers Barn. Neither Philly nor New Jersey had ever won all three games before.
West Virginia-bound guard Dalton Pepper (pictured) hit a 5-foot jumper in the final seconds and New Jersey failed to score in response, and Philly held on for a 91-90 victory in the Senior game.
Pepper scored 19 points and earned MVP honors for the winning team and Fordham-bound wing Lance Brown of Paterson Catholic tallied 22 points to earn MVP for Jersey. That marks the second straight year Fordham has had an MVP in this game, following point guard Jio Fontan of St. Anthony last year. Villanova-bound point guard Maalik Wayns of Philly Roman Catholic won the Hustle award for the Seniors, with 12 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.
At one point the Jersey backcourt featured Dominic Cheek (St. Anthony), Dexter Strickland (St. Patrick) and Tamir Jackson (St. Benedict’s). Strickland is headed to North Carolina and Jackson to Rice.
In the junior game, Philly won 98-93 in OT behind 17 points and 14 rebounds from Philly MVP Markus Kennedy, who recently transferred to Apex Academies in Cherry Hill from St. Patrick of Elizabeth. The 6-8 Philly native was simply dominant in the paint and on the boards. He lists Villanova and Rutgers as his leaders, but Kansas and Georgetown are among those interested.
Philly guard Tyrone Garland of John Bartram earned the Hustle award by scoring 16 points to go with 4 assists and 4 steals. St. Anthony’s 6-7, 255-pound forward Derrick Williams won MVP for Jersey by posting a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds. He lists Fordham as his leader.
Jersey blew a 20-point lead but was still up 87-85 with 7 seconds left, but Fuquan Edwin of Paterson Catholic missed 3-of-4 free throws and Dominic Morris forced OT with a bucket in the final seconds.
In the sophomore game, Philly prevailed 93-85 behind 17 points and 7 rebounds from game MVP Juanya Green of Archbishop Carroll.
Myles Davis of St. Peter’s Prep tallied 24 points for Jersey to earn team MVP honors and Khalid Lewis-El of Trenton Catholic won the Hustle award by notching 6 points, 7 steals and 7 assists.
NOTES: Media in attendance included Dave Telep of Scout, Clark Francis of the HoopScoop, Jay Gomes of NJHoops.com, Steve Keller of the National REcruiting Report, Dan Painter of Terrapin Times and Alex Schwartz of Northstar Basketball. And a special thanks to Norm Eavenson of Bob Gibbons, who was kind enough to give me a stack of Neil Young bootlegs from his European tour. Thanks Norm!…Stay tuned in the coming days for updated stories on Dominic Cheek, Derrick Williams, Jayon James, Isaiah Epps and others.
ALL-TIME EDDIE GRIFFIN CHALLENGE MVPS (BEFORE THE GAME)
Andrew Randall, Temple
Brandon Costner, N.C. State
Corey Chandler, Rutgers
Courtney Stanley, Loyola Il.
Dexter Strickland, North Carolina
Gerald Henderson, Duke
Jeff Robinson, Memphis
JR Smith, NBA
Lance Thomas, Duke
Nasir Robinson, Pitt
Samardo Samuels, Louisville
Tamir Jackson, Rice
Wayne Ellington, North Carolina
Antoine Jardine, Syracuse
Brian Zoubek, Duke
Corey Stokes, Villanova
Desean White, Providence
Jaron Griffin, Rutgers
Jio Fontan, Fordham
Justin Crosgile, St. Joe’s
Maalik Wayns, Villanova
Rick Jackson, Syracuse
Shane Clark, Villanova
Travon Woodall, Pitt
(Pepper photo courtesy Rivals; Strickland, Wayns, Cheek photo courtesy NJHoops.com)
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.