Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 23
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
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UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL: Scott Findlay, left, of George’s Roasters/Ivy Inn looks to get past Wanny Carter of Northwestern Financial last season in the championship series of Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Findlay and George’s won the series 2-1, earning a 58-50 victory in the title clincher. The 2009 summer men’s hoops season tips off next Monday evening with a tripleheader on the Community Park courts starting at 7:15 p.m.

With Pool of Talent Spread in Fewer Teams, Summer Men’s Hoops Primed for Heated Play

Bill Alden

There will be nine teams vying for the league crown this season in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League as opposed to the 12 in the title race last year.

But in the view of longtime league commissioner Ben Stentz, less should be more as the league tips off the 2009 campaign with a tripleheader next Monday evening at the Community Park courts starting at 7:15 p.m.

“Last year halfway through, I thought this was too much,” said Stentz.

“It was a long, intense season and there was a big dropoff after the first eight teams. We have the same pool of talent this year but it is concentrated in fewer teams.”

The most talented team in the league could be defending champion George’s Roasters/The Ivy Inn.

“George’s has the same cast of characters plus [former Princeton High star] DeQuan Holman,” said Stentz.

“They have the right mix, I see them as the favorites. They have some good 6’4 or 6’5 guys in Bobby Davison, Mark Aziz, and Scott Findlay. They have a good backcourt with guys like Shahid Abdul-Karim and Brian Halligan. DeQuan will give them some young legs and athleticism; he should be a great addition.”

Last year’s runners-up, Northwestern Financial, now called Amanda’s All-Stars, could give George’s some tough competition especially when former College of New Jersey and current Harlem Globetrotter Derick Grant is in the lineup.

“They are led by Wanny Carter and they have Christian Burns back,” said Stentz, noting that the squad’s name derives from a promise by one of the players to name a team after his sister as a high school graduation present.

“Derick should be there for the first few weeks and then he will be gone for a while. He can come back for the championship series if they are in it. When Derick is there, they can beat anyone. It will be interesting to see how they play when he isn’t there and who steps up.”

There are some dark horses that could make things interesting. “Black Rock should be a lot better,” asserted Stentz.

“Last year they were good when they had most of their guys. Ryan McNulty has done some things to get guys who will be there more consistently. Hilton Realty, last year’s Coldwell Banker, went 5-5. They have the same crew and they have added a couple of people.”

The Princeton High boys’ basketball entry, known as Princeton Youth Sports (PYS), doesn’t have the same crew as last year and could take its lumps.

“PYS will struggle, they are losing some good seniors in Holman, Brian Dunlap, and A. J. Dowers. “They do have some guys who have played in the league before.”

One league newcomer, the Pennsylvania Blue Devils, could turn some heads.

“They are a bunch of young guys from the Upper Makefield (Pa.) area who have just graduated from high school,” said Stentz.

“They have been an AAU team the last few years and a bunch of them will be playing Division III in college. I think they should be competitive; playing together should help them. New teams haven’t fared well historically so we’ll see.”

The league will be honoring its history again this summer, welcoming its second Hall of Fame class a year after celebrating its 20th season of play and inducting the charter class of 12 into its hall.

On June 26, there will be two games and a community cookout as stars from the Tiger’s Tale team of the 1990s are inducted en masse into the Hall of Fame.

“We thought it went well last year; we talked about who we might have missed,” said Stentz.

“The Tiger’s Tale team which was also called MY-T Sharp some years won eight of the first 10 titles. They won four in a row and back-to-back twice. We talked to Dave Johnson, Darius Young, and Freddy Young and they gave us the names of 14 guys who were the core of the team.”

In Stentz’s view, those guys helped the league establish itself as a fixture on the local sporting scene.

“They set the bar high; they were young guys just out of high school and they were really tough in 1989 when the league started,” added Stentz.

“The Café was the next group to come along and a lot them watched the Tiger’s Tale and decided that they wanted to beat them to get bragging rights.”

League followers are starting to get excited as they look forward to see who will earn bragging rights this summer.

“The buzz is starting to happen,” said Stentz. “People are saying the summer league is starting soon.”

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