It’s often been said in just about any sport that defense wins championships. Wednesday night’s championship game in the Wishful Thinking high school boys division recreation basketball league was a good example. Moller Manages’ tenacious defense forced several turnovers igniting a 14-3 run midway through the second half leading them to a 56-51 win over DJ- AYPE at Bacon Recreation Center.
“We had defense and turnovers and that turned into points,” Moller Manages’ coach Matt Moller said. “When I picked this team, I picked kids who played defense and could hustle.”
Leading by only three at the end of the first half, Moller Manages showed that hustle early getting steals by Franco Rosito and Antonio Mercado in the first 90 seconds boosting the lead to 28-21. DJ AYPE fought back behind the clutch three point shooting of Christian Ortiz to tie the game at 32-32, but Moller Manages’ defense was just getting started. Alfedo Lora picked off back-to-back in-bounds passes and turned them into points starting the decisive run. That defense was contagious, and Rosito, JT Torres, and Taliq Sims all came up with steals leading to three point baskets by Mike Gomez and Anthony Torres. Suddenly it was 46-35 with less than nine minutes left to play.
“Torres, Rosito, Lora,…” said Coach Moller naming everyone on the team who can make a three point basket. “These are high energy, tough kids who can all pass the ball. We played good team defense when we went on that four minute run.”
DJ-AYPE pulled to 46-39 when the remote control for the scoreboard at Bacon Recreation Center decided to call it a night a little early. The scorekeepers had to do things “old school” with a scorecard and timer. But soon the game was back on just as smoothly as if the scoreboard were working.
Christian Ortiz connected on the second of his three triple point shots to cap a 7-0 DY-AYPE run and cut the lead to 46-42. Alfredo Lora answered on the next trip down the floor with a three of his own, and Damien Webber added another triple putting Moller Manages up by ten 52-42. Jayson Lasada, who led DJ-AYPE with 15 points, cut the lead back to eight on the next possession, and after a free throw by Taliq Sims, DJ-AYPE went on one last run.
Danny Rivera hit a mid-range jump shot, and Lasada and Ortiz each made a pair of free throws slicing the lead to 53-50 with less than 30 seconds left. JT Torres then made three of four attempts from the line sealing the win, as the official time ran out.
“The first half was close and we needed to play better defense,” Coach Moller said. “In the second half we came out and played basketball.”
The first half saw the two teams practically trade baskets with neither team ahead by more than two points before the half. Sergio Muniz scored four points, Gabe Dejesus chipped in with three points, and Lasada scored six of his total in the first half for DJ-AYPE. Moller Manages got balanced scoring with nearly everyone scoring at least two points in the first half. Webbers’ first basket gave Moller Manages’ a 20-19 lead, and Mike Gomez’s last two of his seven points in the first half put Moller Manages up 24-21 at the break.
Christian Ortiz tallied 13 points and Danny Rivera finished with eight points for DJ- AYPE. Tasheek Hill followed with seven points, and Mike Garcia had one point for the runner up team.
Gomez’s ten points were a team high for Moller Manages’. Lora contributed eight points followed by JT Torres with seven, Franco Rosito with six, Anthony Torres, Taliq Sims, and Damien Webber each had five, Brian Tavares was next with three, and Zack Petruccione, Diego Rosito, and Antonio Mercado rounded out the scoring with two points each. Moller Manages’ also won the regular season title in the Wishful Thinking boys high school division as part of the Amsterdam Recreation Basketball program.
In addition, Wishful Thinking sponsored both boys and girls All American University (AAU) basketball teams this season. The non- profit organization has also put together an AAU tournament that will be held on the weekend of April 11-12, 2015 with games played at Amsterdam High School, Lynch Literacy Academy, and at Fulton Montgomery Community College. Money raised from the tournament will go toward Wishful Thinking’s effort to see a new recreation center built in the city of Amsterdam.