Team Flight wins IS8 Championship
Obekpa named league Player of the Year
Try as they might, Team Flight could not shake The Rens on Saturday. The Rens fought, clawed, persevered, battled and fought some more, and they refused to go away.
It wasn’t until the whistle blew at the end of overtime, making the 92-83 win official, that Team Flight’s players were able to step back and celebrate a well-deserved 2012 IS8 Championship.
Team Flight center Chris Obekpa was named league Player of the Year, and on the league tournament’s final day, no one had a bigger impact. First, in Team Flight’s 94-68 mercy rule semifinal win over the Juice All-Stars, Obekpa dominated inside with seven blocks. The high-flying 6’9’’ big man controlled the paint on the defensive end, eating up rebounds and forcing the Juice All-Stars outside. To make matters worse for the Juice All-Stars, their leader, Isaiah Whitehead, went down early with an injury, and though he returned briefly in the second half, was clearly not at full strength.
Meanwhile The Rens advanced to the championship game after New Heights forfeited the scheduled semifinal between the two teams.
In the tournament finale, Obekpa was brilliant again. But this time, it wasn’t nearly as easy.
At the end of three quarters, Team Flight held a 67-60 lead and was mere minutes from coasting to a championship.
Then, things changed.
Led by South Carolina-bound Thaddeus Hall (20 points), The Rens fought their way back with a relentless defense and an all-out assault on the glass. Team Flight’s lead was decreasing by the minute as the pace of the game picked up, leading to quick turnovers, fast breaks and points on both ends. Tempers flared on Team Flight’s side while The Rens seemed calm, yet poised to take control of the game and steal the IS8 title.
Somehow, the game was tied with just seven seconds left and Team Flight inbounding from in front of their own bench. The Rens stepped up their defense and stifled several attacks, sending the game to overtime and keeping the capacity crowd at Queens’ IS8 in suspense.
In the brief break between regulation and overtime, both teams went to their respective huddles. Whatever Team Flight coaches CJ Lipcombe and Brian Copperman said in that huddle must have worked, because they dominated the extra session. Pathways College Prep junior Jordan Washington made his presence known inside, while Our Savior New American senior guard Nick Lewis stayed red-hot from outside.
Team Flight put the game away at the foul line as the closing minutes started to get chippy. Words were exchanged by members of each team and some questionable contact was made, but the IS8 officials did a good job of stepping in to make sure things did not get out of hand. Players were held in check just long enough for the final seconds to tick off, making the IS8 championship trophy officially belong to Team Flight.
2012 IS8 Individual Honors:
Player of the Year: Chris Obekpa (Team Flight)
All-League First Team:
Melvin Johnson (Panthers Sr.)
Isaiah Cousins (Ben Gordon All-Stars)
Chris Ortiz (The Rens)
Leroy Fludd (Juice All-Stars)
Ibra Toure (The Rens)
All-League Second Team:
Isaiah Whitehead (Juice All-Stars)
Kavon Stewart (Playaz Jr.)
Jimmy Hall (New Heights)
Thaddeus Hall (The Rens)
Maurice Watson (Team Flight)
All-League Third Team:
Reggie Cameron (Playaz Jr.)
Mike Young (Playaz Jr.)
Laimonas Chatkevicius (Panthers)
Rashard Andrews (New Heights)
Brian Benardi (New Heights)