Last season, the Brooklyn-based games produced a final four, who then competed for the tournament’s $2 million prize. This time, TBT held its Northeast Regionals downtown at the Steinberg Wellness Center, where three teams punched their tickets to the Sweet 16 next week in Atlanta.
The three-day festivities began on Friday, leading to a bevy of entertaining encounters on Sunday afternoon, led by the 15-seeded Talladega Knights, the Northeast’s Cinderella Story of TBT 2018.
The Knights defeated Queens Struggle, 81-69, on Friday, a play-in to join 12 teams over the weekend.
That led to a match-up with second-ranked HBC Sicklerville, led by former Hofstra standout and Queens native Charles Jenkins, who played in 110 NBA games between 2011-2013, as well as former New Jersey Nets Marcus Williams and Josh Boone.
The Knights blew out Sicklerville, 80-60, and upended Team Arkansas on Sunday, 91-74.
“We’ve played with each other for the last four summers now. We know what to do, we’ve been in a lot of tournaments together,” said Rider alum Novar Gadson, who averaged 21.3 points per game in three days, including a 30-point outing Sunday on only 16 shots.
In the four-five match-up, Armored Athlete became the next team to advance, defeating Gael Nation, a squad comprised of Iona College alums led by former Houston Rocket and Queens product Scott Machado, 75-73.
TBT had implemented the Elam Ending for this year’s tournament, where the game clock would shut off with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, and the first team to reach the designated number, which would be seven points higher than the team currently in the lead, would win.
At the time of the Elam Ending’s implementation, Armored Athlete had only a 68-62 lead. In other instances, teams have been up by double-figures prior to Elam Ending time, putting those trailing in a deep deficit, without a clock.
“It’s interesting with the target score, it’s the first time we’re all experiencing this,” said Armored Athlete guard and former Boston Celtic Marcus Thornton after the game. “It’s something that we’ve got to get used to and get used to quick.”
For Armored Athlete, former Detroit Piston Terrico White and Julian Gamble scored 19 points each, while Thornton added 10.
In the following game, the final contest of the week, the top-seed and widely revered Boeheim’s Army, a loaded unit of yesterday’s Syracuse basketball stars, skated by the ninth-ranked Team Fancy.
Boeheim’s Army led 53-52 ahead of the Elam Ending, the slimmest margin heading into the final stage over the weekend.
The raucous Orange crowd, who travels noticeably well during TBT season, helped will the team to victory and another Sweet 16 bid, finishing off Team Fancy, led by former St. John’s guard D’Angelo Harrison, who had 11 points, 60-55.
Former New York Knick Demetris Nichols led the Orange with 13 points and seven rebounds.
“It brings you back to when you were in school,” said Army guard Brandon Triche. “When you’re hearing, ‘go ‘Cuse, go ‘Cuse’ it brings chills. Playing in a dome you don’t get the atmosphere of a little gym. It’s more of a family event. Here it’s a smaller gym so you hear everybody, and obviously we had a good crowd today.”