ROCKVILLE – The 2017 Maryland Elite Summer Basketball League ended with a bang Monday evening in the Daniel Pearl Memorial Gymnasium at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School as the best players from the summer season competed in the All-Star game.
The students were divided into two teams: Team Bunnies and Team Sploosh. The highly entertaining game came down to the wire as a last second layup by Bullis junior fstorward Nendah Tarke gave Team Sploosh the victory, 103-101.
Springbrook senior guard Matthew Balanc led all players with 50 points scored for Team Bunnies. Balanc was awarded the Most Valuable Player trophy at the game’s conclusion.
“My game is built for an all-star game, with a lot of dunks, a lot of fast breaks and a lot of showtime plays,” said Balanc of his dominant performance. “This was pretty good competition to play against and I didn’t expect to have 50 points.”
Coaches David McCloud and Azhar Shamsudeen regularly rotated players on and off the bench throughout the course of the game to give everyone an opportunity to put on a show.
And put on a show they did.
Richard Montgomery senior guard Daryn Alexander fed Balanc the ball with a fast pass and the Springbrook senior came down with an emphatic dunk to bring the fans to their feet.
Tarke went to the ground on a three-point attempt and watched as the ball sailed through the net. A few seconds later, Tarke sailed through the air for a dunk of his own.
Team Sploosh led by nine points at the half.
However, the highlight reel wasn’t over yet. Every time a player from Team Bunnies would land a big shot, someone from Team Sploosh would answer back.
Damascus senior guard and Team Sploosh captain Mason Green stopped Team Bunnies’ momentum with a huge turnover and took aim from close to midcourt. Even though Green missed the shot, fans were jumping out of their seats and shouting their approval.
Senior guard Delaino Jessup from Magruder put on a show as he drove down the court, dribbling quickly between his legs and juking the Team Sploosh defender.
Alexander connected with Balanc again and Balanc scored three times in quick succession to give Team Bunnies its first lead of the evening with just over two minutes to play.
Tarke took his time behind the arc and landed a trey to put Team Sploosh back in the lead. Students excitedly flooded onto the court a few seconds later as Tarke slammed down his third dunk of the game to bring Team Sploosh’s points total into triple digits.
It appeared as though overtime was imminent as the score was knotted up with just six seconds left to play. Tarke made it look easy as he stood under the basket and landed the game-winning layup.
“It wasn’t really that pretty, but it went in, so I’ll take it,” said Tarke, who finished with 18 points. “It was a blessing to be here and play with this top-tier talent. We have a lot of friendly beef and it’s just fun when it’s less competitive and you get to show off all your skills.”
Meanwhile, now that summer league is over, Balanc has already set his goals for the upcoming basketball season.
“Of course, I’m trying to win a state championship with Springbrook,” he said.