Bishop Loughlin guards Khadeen Carrington and Mike Williams did the grunt work at the Nike Tournament of Champions, sparking their New York City boy’s hoops team back from a 21-point halftime deficit, while Abraham Lincoln star Isaiah Whitehead struggled to find his scoring stroke.
But it was Whitehead’s time to shine when the city’s all-star team managed to force overtime against its New Jersey counterpart at the tourney, and Williams made sure to let Whitehead know he had to close the deal.
“I told him, ‘Yo, you have to take us home,’ ” Williams said. “ ‘Everyone says you’re one of the best players in New York. It’s time to show up.’ ”
Whitehead did not disappoint.
The rising senior scored 25 points overall, with 20 coming in the second half, and nine in overtime to propel New York City to a thrilling 90–88 win over New Jersey in the Nike Tournament of Champions title game at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Duggal Greenhouse on Saturday. Whitehead, who also had 29 points in the semifinals, was named the game’s most valuable player. His spinning layup to start the overtime gave the city its first lead of the game.
“I knew my shots would fall sooner or later,” said Whitehead. “I couldn’t make anything. I was making air balls, missing layups. I just kept my composure and kept shooting.”
He and his teammates fought their way back into the game with defense, in true city style. They pressed full court after trailing 47–26 at the break and began to get easy baskets in transition. Carrington scored eight of his 19 points, including a reverse layup with 15 seconds left in the big third quarter to help New York City get within 58–54 heading into the fourth. The Rutgers-bound Williams added 11 points.
“They’re top players in New York,” Whitehead said of the Loughlin guards. “They showed that today.”
Whitehead became a facilitator in the fourth to help Williams heated up. The city was trying to fend off the hot shooting of Rosedale Catholic star Isaiah Brisco. Williams buried a 3-pointer from the corner to get the city within 78–75 with 1:17 left in regulation and converted a layup of an ally-oop pass from Whitehead to tie the score at 78–78 with 41 seconds remaining to force overtime.
“I don’t know how he saw me,” Williams said of Whitehead on the pass.
After their team eventually prevailed, Carrington, Williams and Whitehead left the court feeling they had defended their home turf and earned some bragging rights against New Jersey thanks to some New York City toughness when they easily could have crumbled.
“We kept our composure and showed a lot of heart,” Whitehead said. “That’s New York City basketball.”Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewsk