Davon Black put in extra preparation as his seventh-seeded Northeast Realty squad got ready to face No. 2 King’s Pizzarama last Monday in the quarterfinals of the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League playoffs.
“We were down here yesterday for four hours, working hard trying to get ready for tonight,” said former Princeton High hoops standout Black, who was joined by teammate Javon Pannell for the training session.
The pair’s hard work paid dividends in the first half of the contest at the Community Park courts with Black scoring 8 points and Pannell chipping in 11 as Northeast took a 23-19 lead at the break.
“We were hungry for an upset,” said Black. “We were bigger than them and we played like that in the first half. We got inside; it was working.”
But in the second half, Northeast ran out of gas as it fell 51-42. “I liked where we were at but it always happens when we get up in the first half; we come out lackadaisical and a team just jumps on us,” said Black, who ended the evening with a game-high 18 points. “They get three or four points and get right back in the game and that kills us.”
Black tipped his hat to King’s, which got 14 points apiece from Anthony Gaffney and Matt Johnson in pulling away to the victory.
“They are a good team, they play well together,” said Black of King’s, who will advance to the semis on July 25 where they will play third-seeded Belle Mead Physical Therapy, a winner in overtime against sixth-seeded Princeton Interventional Cardiology on Monday.
“They got us running. When we were stopping their fast breaks, that is when we were up. Once they started getting the break, that is when they went up. They were finishing.”
Finishing the night with a dunk at the buzzer, Black said that the team was undeterred despite posting a 2-7 record in its first season in the men’s summer hoops league.
“Most of us have played together since we were on that AAU team coached by Bobby Davison,” said Black, noting that Northeast teammates Fernando Silva, Ian Finnen, and Ben Harrison joined him on that youth squad.
“We were right there. It is tough; I think we are going to stick together, though.”
Black proved he was up there with the best players in the league, averaging more than 15 points a game to rank in the top three in individual scoring.
“I feel like I have come a long way from being in high school, just getting bigger and stronger and being able to finish,” said Black, who is going to Mercer County Community College where he plans to play for the school’s men’s hoops team with an eye to playing down the road for a four-year college program. “I have a big body now and I can finish with the big guys.”