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.
St. Patrick’s Routs Thon Maker, Athlete Institute as Early-Season Roll Continues
NEW YORK — The Patrick School continued its early-season roll by scoring a decisive 66-51 victory over Thon Maker’s Athlete Institute squad to kick off The Grind Session at Baruch College on New Year’s Eve Day.
Despite an hour delay because Athlete Institute did not have their uniforms ready, The Patrick School did not waste any time displaying their trademark defensive intensity forcing turnovers on the first three possessions.
“I think that’s who this team is,” said interim head coach Mike Rice, whose record is now 5-1 as the clock turns to 2016. “They love competing and their instincts now are competing for one another. It’s one thing to compete and enjoy it its another to compete when you love to do it together for your teammates.”
Coach Rice and The Patrick School began their season less than two weeks ago and took home second place in the famed City of Palms Classic falling to Chino Hills (CA) in overtime. After the Christmas holiday the Celtics defeated Bishop O’ Connell (VA) in the Slam Dunk To The Beach tournament in Delaware.
“It’s night and day, its night and day,” said Rice, the 46-year-old former Rutgers coach. “Its scary. What are we five games into it? Six games into it? Were just beginning the season. The flow. How the ball doesn’t stick in anyone’s hands is what is so fun to coach these guys. I like where we are heading.”
While still missing one of their top players in 6-foot-11 junior center Nick Richards (concussion), the Celtics put together a well-balanced team effort. Rhode Island bound forward Cyril Langevine scored the first basket on a strong left-handed drive to the basket. Harvard-bound Bryce Aiken and uncommited junior guard Jamir Harris provided the outside shooting combing for five three-pointers in the first half and both players finished with 14 points for the game.
A 46-37 third quarter score was quickly pushed into double-figures by Marcus McClary and Jordan Walker to start the fourth quarter and the Celtics never looked back. Along with the offensive efficiency, the Celtics also held 7-foot Thon Maker, a top 10 player in the class of 2016, to just three field goals and 12 points..
Maker was not the first five-star recruit that the Celtics faced. They held Miami bound Dewan Huell to just five points and then played against both Duke-bound Jayson Tatum and UCLA commit Lonzo Ball. Unheralded big man Fatir Hines was a key in slowing down both Huell and Maker.
“He’s certainly the first line,” said Rice. “Then it goes team defense. We stress every day how you have to be there for your teammates and it’s a team game. It really helps when you have a kid like Fatir who doesn’t care about stat lines or anything besides just winning basketball. He’s stepped up because of Nick’s absence really admirably for us.”
After making his high school coaching debut in the City of Palms, Coach Rice recognized that he would be under scrutiny any time he coached. Chris Chavannes, the team’s original coach who took a sabbatical for to work on other projects, is due back to coach the Celtics this weekend in a pair of games in New Jersey at Roselle Catholic and the Paterson Charter School.
From the first possession the energetic Rice was working up a sweat yelling out defensive sets and offensive plays while constantly urging his players to play with energy throughout the game. His players responded in-kind; however after an uncharacteristic defensive mistake in the second half Rice certainly wasn’t pleased. Quick to yell he slowly started to smile with the game well in-hand.
“Sorry about yelling,” Rice said.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, 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.