Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 33
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
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(Photo courtesy of Princeton Recreation Department)

BY GEORGE’S: Noah Savage, holding up finger behind trophy, celebrates with his teammates on George’s Roasters and Ribs/Ivy Inn after they topped Northwestern Financial 58-50 last Friday to earn a 2-1 victory in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League championship series. Savage poured in a team-high 17 points as George’s finished with a 14-2 record and its second summer league crown in the last four seasons.

Savage Jets Back From Southern California, Helps George’s Fly to Summer Hoops Title

Bill Alden

Noah Savage may have been out in Southern California last week but that doesn’t mean his thoughts weren’t on the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League.

With his George’s Roasters and Ribs/Ivy Inn team facing defending champion Northwestern Financial in the league’s best-of-three championship series, the former Hun and Princeton University standout was monitoring developments as he visited friends in the L.A. area.

“I texted Bob [Davison], I asked what happened in the first game and he said they won by a lot (55-39) and I thought ‘ah, I’m not going to be here for the win.’” recalled Savage. “I was a little worried coming in Thursday night, I heard they lost a tough one Wednesday night (36-35).”

While Savage’s teammates wanted to end things Wednesday night, Savage was thrilled that a Game 3 became necessary.

“I was real excited because I wanted to get involved in this and get in the picture,” said Savage, who showed up Friday with bandages under his left eye, courtesy of a rough pick-up game in Venice Beach.

Savage ended up providing plenty of excitement upon his return to action at the Community Park courts. In the early stages of the game, Savage took a while to warm to the action, adding five points off the bench as top-seeded George’s took a 24-23 halftime lead over No. 2 Northwestern.

In the second half, however, Savage caught fire, engaging in a mano-a-mano shooting duel with Northwestern’s Derick Grant, reminiscent of the Larry Bird — Dominique Wilkins battle in Game 7 of the 1988 Eastern Conference semifinals.

With George’s trailing 40-34, the 6’5, 220-pound Savage poured in four three-pointers to change the tone of the game. Grant, for his part, hit on four three-pointers and two long field goals in a 10-minute stretch.

Savage’s last three-pointer put George’s ahead to stay at 48-45 as the team pulled way to a 58-50 win and and its second summer league title in the last four seasons.

George’s ended the summer with a 14-2 record while Grant led Northwestern to a final mark of 11-5.

A beaming Savage tipped his hat to Grant, clearly relishing matching his skills with the former College of New Jersey star and current Harlem Globetrotter who poured in a game-high 24 points.

“That was really fun,” said Savage who ended up with 17 points on the evening.

“Everybody in the park knew he was going to shoot every time. Once I made a couple, I decided I was going to shoot when I was open so I did. He was unbelievable; he made so many difficult shots. I play against pros a lot and he’s really, really good. He’s as good as those guys.”

In the end, though, Grant’s heroics weren’t enough to overcome George’s balance which got nine points from playoff MVP Bobby Davison and several big hoops from Scott Findlay, Mark Aziz, and Brian Halligan.

“We play like a team,” said Savage. “There were times when they were trying to stop me and other guys stepped up and scored. When there were openings, I scored. When you play as a team, you’d like to think you are going to win more often than not. That’s what we try to do.”

The pieces of the puzzle came together for George’s as it developed into a team to be reckoned with.

“We kind of figured out our roles,” said Savage. “I shoot a lot of threes; that’s what I do. Scott is going to drive into three guys and knock them all over and score. Bobby is going to get every rebound. Mark helped us tonight, he’s big, athletic, I think he bothered a couple of shots by Derick. It’s just a real good team.”

For Savage, who is heading to Switzerland later this month to play for a pro team there, making it back to New Jersey for Friday’s game was a nice way to wrap up the summer.

“It’s a great send off,” said Savage. “I kind of miscalculated my trip to L.A.; I missed all the playoffs which I didn’t really plan on. I’m glad I got back, this is real fun. This is home; this feels good.”

Doubly good for Savage considering he almost missed out on George’s championship fun.

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