The Ivy Inn squad boasts some of the most battle-tested performers in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League.
Players like Bobby Davison, Mark Aziz, Shahid Abdul-Karim, and Buddy Thomas have been through the hoops wars on the Community Park courts and have titles to go along with their combat wounds.
So when Sherman Brittingham joined the squad this summer, the former California University of Pennsylvania standout was just looking to fit in with his new mates.
“I have tried to come in here and get us a couple of buckets,” said the 6’5 Brittingham.
“I try not to force the issue because we have a lot of guys that can play. Sometimes I might start forcing the issue and then I have got to think to myself I have got some guys here who can play so I don’t have to force it too much. I play the team game, I try to be the team player.”
Brittingham, though, has emerged as the X-factor for Ivy Inn as his scoring prowess helped carry the squad into the league’s best-of-three championship series. He scored a game-high 24 points to help fourth-seeded Ivy Inn edge top-seeded and defending champion Winberie’s 55-50 in the semis last Friday.
On Monday, Brittingham was at it again, tallying 20 points as Ivy Inn topped second-seeded Sneakers Plus 49-43 to take a 1-0 lead in the title series and improve to a 9-3 record. Game 2 of the series is slated for July 31 at 8 p.m. at the Community Park courts with Game 3, if necessary, to take place on August 2.
In reflecting on the victory over Sneakers Plus, which is comprised of current players from The College of New Jersey men’s hoops team, Brittingham acknowledged that the game was a struggle.
“They played tough,” said Brittingham of Sneakers Plus, which got 15 points from former Princeton High standout Skye Ettin with Alex Fox chipping in 11 as it moved to 9-3 on the summer. “We just have to play sound on defense because they are going to run their sets. They are a lot younger.”
In Brittingham’s view, Ivy Inn’s experience and size counteracted the young legs of Sneakers Plus.
“We have a lot of veterans, we have me, big Mark, and Bobby,” said Brittingham, who trained with Aziz to get ready to play professionally overseas as Brittingham played in Saudi Arabia and Israel while Aziz competed in Egypt. “We have got a lot of strength and size and we are all vets of the game. I think that is what is going to carry us over.”
Ivy Inn showed that savvy as it closed out the game with a decisive 10-5 run. “Down the stretch, we executed, we hit our free throws, and we went where the money was,” said Brittingham. “Winning the first game was important; we have a little bit of leeway now.”
And adding a money player like Brittingham has turned out to be an important move for Ivy Inn.