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Czeski returns to AHS court with Schenectady Legends

There was just under six minutes to play in the Schenectady Legends basketball game with the Binghampton Pioneers on Friday night at Amsterdam High School. Legends guard and co-captain Lloyd Johnson was bringing the ball up court as his teammates moved toward the basket. Suddenly he lofted the ball toward the rim where  –  to the delight of the enthusiastic Amsterdam crowd – a familiar face slammed it down. That familiar face was TJ Czeski.

“That was something to give the fans to cheer about,” said Czeski who returned to competitive basketball in the AHS gym for the first time since his high school days. “Lloyd Johnson gave me a great pass so I threw it in.”

Czeski, a 2006 graduate of Amsterdam High School and of Wagner College, is currently in his third season with the Legends, who are part of the Independent Basketball Association that includes teams from New York, New Jersey, and Toronto, Canada.

The Legends, who won Fridays game 154-112*, will be playing their home games at several locations in the Capital District this season because their home court, the Schenectady Armory, is undergoing renovations. And while Friday’s game is the only one scheduled at Amsterdam High School, there will be future games this season held at high schools in Canajoharie, Gloversville, Johnstown, and Scotia Glenville. Other Legends home games will be played at the Schenectady YMCA and the Duanesburg Area Community Center. Czeski, in is first true home game since his AHS days reflected on the experience.

“It was awesome to be able to play in front of my friends, and with some of my friends,” he said. “We had the chance to relive some old memories.”

The Legends helped Czeski create some new memories in winning fashion.

Schenectady led Binghampton 77-55 at halftime. Johnson scored 31 of his game high 36 points in the first half with the majority of those by connecting on seven three-point shots. The game was tight only in the first ten minutes with the last tie at 24-24 after Pioneers’ Reggie Lever made a layup. A steal and a layup by Legends’ Kareem Thomas and Johnson’s last three of the first quarter put Schenectady up 38-25 and they never trailed after that. Schenectady pushed the lead over twenty just before halftime on a steal by Clayton Longmire. Zach Bye’s jumper provided the halftime margin.

Czeski and teammate co captain EJ Gallup, a Gloversville High School graduate, played most of the first quarter and the second half together. Czeski connected for two shots early in the third quarter and was followed by a three from Gallup to give the Legends their biggest lead at 84-58.

“There’s a tremendous level of competition,” said Czeski about how playing for the Legends has helped his game. “I started out the Summer playing ball with friends and people in the community, and now playing at this level, it helps a lot.”

Czeski finished the night with six points. Gallup totaled 24 points with five three pointers. Shea Bromirski had 25 points for Schenectady with most coming in the second half. Clayton Logmire added 19 points and grabbed a team high 12 rebounds. Jimmy Graham connected for 27 points for Binghampton. Lever had 25 points and 10 rebounds, and Javon Ralling added 24 points for the Pioneers.

Despite the wide margin of victory, and that the Legends had defeated the Pioneers 147-85 in their opener last week, the games will be more competitive as the season continues.

“There’s more competition,” said Czeski. “This was just a nice tune up for tomorrow.”

The Legends opponent for Saturday is the New Jersey G- Force, a team that like the Legends, features former college players  and some who played basketball in other countries. The game will be played at the Schenectady YMCA on 13 State Street, Schenectady. Part of the proceeds from Legends home games will be donated to local organizations. Part of the price of ticket costs will be donated to Wishful Thinking.

For more information on the fund raising, please visit:
www.schenectadylegends.com/fundraising/wishfulthinking.html

For more information on the Schenectady Legends of the Independent Basketball Association go to:
www.schenectadylegends.com or facebook.com/legendshoops or twitter.com/legendshoops

The 2014 Schenectady Legends Home Schedule:

Friday, November 7 – vs. Binghampton Pioneers at Amsterdam High School
Saturday, November 8 – vs. NJ G – Force at Schenectady YMCA
Friday, November 21 – vs. Toronto 3D at Scotia-Glenville High School
Saturday, November 22 – vs. Toronto 3D at Canajoharie High School
Friday, November 28 – vs. Binghampton Pioneers at Gloversville High School
Saturday, November 29 – vs. NJ G- Force at Schenectady YMCA
Friday, December 5 – vs. Toronto 3D at Duanesburg Area Community Center
Saturday, December 6 – vs. Toronto 3D at Johnstown High School

* Editor’s note: The Legends’ official Twitter page and other sources report the final score was 160-121. However the score on the scoreboard and what was announced at the end of the game was 154-112. We’ll update this article if we can find the reason for the discrepancy.

(Photos by Scott Mulford)

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About Scott Mulford

Scott Mulford has been covering local sports for over 20 years. He previously wrote for the Amsterdam Star and The Free Press of the Mohawk Valley.

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