Jeff Neiburg (@Jeff_Neiburg)
Remember that night at the Fellowship House, when Tony Carr and Co. went toe-to-toe with that team from Harrisburg and won the Donofrio?
That’s a phrase likely to be heard for years to come.
The final 10 minutes of Tuesday night’s finale at the 55th annual Albert C. Donofrio Classic was arguably the most thrilling 10 minutes of the year, as far as local high school hoops goes.
There were multiple ties and lead changes, back-and-forth 3-pointers and a raucous atmosphere.
It turned into a Philadelphia vs. Harrisburg slugfest, and Carr and Team Hardnett emerged victorious, holding off the Raw Sports All-Stars 86-83.
Carr tallied 18 of his game-high 27 points in the final 6:40 second half. He went back-and-forth with Raw Sports’ Jahaad Proctor (25 points) and Milik Gantz (23 points) during that final stretch.
“You can’t just let anybody walk into your house and sit on your couch, watch your TV,” Carr, one of the tournament’s MVP’s, said. “In the timeouts, we just kept talking about pride. We wanted to keep playing hard and we knew if we did that, we’d come out on top.”
Carr hit what appeared to be a dagger 3-pointer with just over two minutes to go, but Gantz came right back down the floor and hit one of his own to get Raw Sports within two, 82-80.
Down the other end, Temple commit Levan Alston scored his only three points of the game to put Hardnett back up by five, 85-80 with 1:20 on the clock.
The back-and-forth action didn’t stop.
A turnover by Raw Sports sent Hardnett’s Nazeer Bostick in solo on a runout, which ended with the Roman Catholic guard missing a dunk.
Down the other end, Raw Sports got a huge 3-pointer by recent West Chester commit, Dejour Williams, who finished with five treys and 19 points. That shot got the deficit to two, 85-83 with 31.4 seconds left.
Gantz had a chance to tie the game twice down the stretch. Once at the foul line after a Carr turnover, and then again just before the buzzer with a 3-pointer after Hardnett’s Ahmad Gilbert went 1-for-2 at the free throw line.
Gilbert helped spur the comeback in the second half, hitting a 3-pointer in a 7-0 run that got Hardnett back in the game, trailing 50-46 with 14 minutes to play. The Constitution High School senior wing picked up the intensity on the defensive end, forced a few turnovers and hit a couple of big 3-pointers, all while neutralizing Raw Sports wing Lonnie Walker, one of the area’s best prospects, who would finish with just seven points.
Gilbert finished with 26 points, including four 3-pointers. He grabbed a big offensive rebound after Carr missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity late in the game.
“He played great,” Carr said of Gilbert. “He was one of the main reasons we won. He stepped it up on the defensive end, got crucial steals, made crucial three’s and he’s a great player.”
A 3-pointer from Khalief Tinley, with 10:30 left on the clock, gave Hardnett its first lead of the second half.
Raw Sports, which led 39-28 at halftime, had just six players. The Harrisburg-based group was making its debut in the Donofrio Classic and proved to be one of the more exciting teams in the tournament, featuring a talented group that always played hard despite being constantly shorthanded.
“We had to play up, in a sense,” coach Joe Proctor said. “It only takes five to play. We had a roster of some other decent guys in the area...they didn’t show. I had to go with the guys that showed. They proved well for themselves.”
Unlike many of the favorites to make a run at the title, Raw Sports wasn’t given a bye and had to play their way through some tough teams to get to the final.
“Part of the reason why we came down here is to show that central Pennsylvania guys can play, too," Proctor said. “We’re kind of under the radar with Philly, of course, dominant in the state of Pennsylvania. We just wanted to show that we could play, too, and come out and represent our area well. I think we did these past couple of weeks.”
They did that, and more. And almost changed the narrative in an epic Philly vs. Harrisburg affair.
2015 Albert C. Donofrio All-Tournament Team
Tony Carr - Team Hardnett
Levan Alston - Team Hardnett
Nazeer Bostick - Team Hardnett
Manny Taylor - Team Hardnett
Jahaad Proctor - Raw Sports
Lonnie Walker - Raw Sports
Milik Gantz - Raw Sports
Caesar Dejesus - Raw Sports
Samir Doughty - Team Philly
Mike Watkins - Team Philly
Ryan Daly - Just Clean It
Nick Giordano - Yellow Jackets
David Beatty - Triple Threat
Michael Crone - Keystone Blazers Black
Najee Walls - Keystone Blazers Red
Lamar Stevens - Old School Cavaliers
Trey Duval - We R 1
Tony Samartino (MVP) - Tony Carr
Art Andrey Award (MVP) - Jahaad Proctor
Albert C. Donofrio “Little Big Man” Award - Milik Gantz
Sportsmanship Award - Ahmad Gilbert