Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 29
 
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
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(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)

HILTON HEAD: Duane Hicks heads to the hoop in previous playoff action in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. Last Monday, Hicks and fifth-seeded Hilton Realty topped No. 4 Bank of Princeton 52-42 in a quarterfinal clash. The league quarterfinals will conclude on Wednesday evening at the Community Park courts with the semifinals slated for July 24. The best-of-three championship series tips off on July 27.

Sparked by Edwards’ Strong Inside Play, Hilton Advances to Summer Hoops Semis

Bill Alden

By late June, Chris Edwards and his teammates on Hilton Realty appeared to be headed for a rough season in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League.

Despite the stellar inside play of the bruising Edwards, Hilton stumbled to a 0-4 start.

While he was unhappy with his team’s early play, Edwards wasn’t about to give up on the season.

“We had a lot of the same guys but I think the chemistry was still a factor,” said Edwards.

“After four games or so, everybody got that rhythm; everybody got that continuity and good things started happening.”

Getting into the groove, Hilton caught fire and took a five-game winning streak into the league playoffs.

In its quarterfinal matchup last Monday at the Community Park courts, fifth-seeded Hilton looked to keep things rolling as it faced No. 4 Bank of Princeton.

With the teams having split their two regular season meetings, Edwards looked to establish himself in the paint in the rubber match.

“We always want to go inside early and try to get something going in the paint,” said Edwards. “I got some buckets early and that opened up the outside perimeter.”

With Edwards scoring 15 points in the first half, Hilton took a 24-23 lead into halftime.

In the second half, Hilton took a 36-27 lead but saw that margin dwindle to 36-35 after getting hit with some technical fouls and seeing the Bank of Princeton convert several free throws.

Edwards combined with Adriano De Donato and Vernon Hicks as Hilton took control inside and pulled away to a 52-42 win.

In other playoff action Monday, ninth-seeded Princeton Youth Sports (PYS) topped No. 8 Black Rock 49-31 to earn a shot at top-seeded and undefeated George’s Roasters and Ribs/Ivy Inn on Wednesday in the quarterfinals.

The seventh-seeded Pennsylvania Blue Devils pulled the upset of the night as they topped No. 2 Team Turnpike 55-44 in a quarterfinal matchup.

In the other quarterfinal matchup, No. 3 Dr. Palmer will play sixth-seeded Cool Runnings on Wednesday.

In Edwards’ view, Hilton’s reaction to the technical fouls proved to be pivotal in the victory which advanced it to the semifinals where it will face the victor of the George’s Roasters/PYS clash.

“At first when we got the technical, it was alright there goes the momentum swing,” said Edwards, who ended the evening with 23 points.

“We said alright we have got to make a run quick to get their momentum down. We came out with that fire and intensity and got us a win.”

Hilton will need that intensity when it hits the court for the semis on Friday, facing a likely matchup against powerful George’s, the defending league champions.

Edwards believes that surging Hilton can give George’s a run for its money if the two teams do meet.

“The first time we played them we played them tight for the first half and a good portion of the second half and then we got tired,” recalled Edwards.

“We got lazy on defense and the rebounds. They have got a lot of size; they have guys who have been playing together for a long time. So we have got to come out and not let them get points in the beginning and just keep running with it and try to knock them out early.”

With the chemistry that has developed during Hilton’s run, it is going to be a tough team to knock out.

“We have got a good mix of players; nobody is selfish,” asserted Edwards, who will be spending the fall as a student-teacher in the Philadelphia area to complete his degree in elementary education from Penn State.

“Everyone wants to play team ball; everyone knows their role. People don’t try to be doing things they aren’t supposed to be doing.”

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