Former PHS Teammates Black, Levy Show Bonds As LoyalTees Wins 3rd Straight Summer Hoops Title
REMAINING LOYAL: Davon Black passes the ball for LoyalTees during the playoffs in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Former Princeton High star Black helped LoyalTees defeat Majeski Foundation 57-45 last Wednesday in the second game of the league’s best-of-three championship series to earn a sweep and win its third straight crown. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Lior Levy and Davon Black developed a connection on the basketball court years ago playing for the Princeton High boys’ hoops program.
The two formed an inside-out punch for PHS with the 6’8 Levy starring in the paint and the 5’11 Black getting it done on the perimeter.
“It is the best playing with Davon,” said Levy, a 2013 PHS alum who went on to play at Franklin and Marshall, serving as a team captain in his senior season in 2016-17.
“Ever since high school we know exactly where each other are going to be on the court. We have always found each other.”
Black, a 2012 PHS grad, reached out to Levy, who was teaching English in southern Israel and playing in the country’s Third Division pro hoops league, to ask him to play the LoyalTees squad this season in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League.
“Lior is one of my favorite teammates,” said Black, in reflecting on getting Levy to join the squad.
Last Wednesday evening, the longtime pals teamed up to help LoyalTees defeat Majeski Foundation 57-45 in the second game of the league’s best-of-three championship series before a standing-room-only crowd at the Community Park courts to earn a sweep and win its third straight crown.
Levy, who had been coming off the bench this summer in his first season for LoyalTees, knew he was going to assume a greater role with star forward Nick Davidson sidelined for game two with a leg injury after starring in the opener.
“I figured that I would probably be playing more,” said Levy. “Nick missed a couple of games in the beginning of the playoffs so I knew my role would be increased based off of that.”
Making the most of the opportunity, Levy scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the win as LoyalTees ended with a final record of 10-1
STANDING TALL: Lior Levy of LoyalTees, left, guards a foe in its run to a third straight title in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Levy, a 2013 Princeton High alum who went on to play at Franklin and Marshall, contributed 13 points and eight rebounds as LoyalTees defeated the Majeski Foundation 57-45 at the Community Park courts last Wednesday to sweep the league’s best-of-three championship series and win its third straight title. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
“I was ready to go, it is always fun to get out there and play with these guys,” said Levy, who scored nine points in the first 20 minutes of the contest as LoyalTees built a 31-25 halftime lead over Majeski, which is comprised of players from The College of New Jersey men’s hoops team.
“I felt last game that I was a bit cold. I made sure to get some shots up early before the game this time and I felt good.”
Black, for his part, had to leave the game with a back injury in the second half, writhing in pain on the ground for minutes and getting an ice pack before returning to the game as LoyalTees pulled away to the title, leading by 50-30 at one point in the second half.
“This what we do, we have a team full of unselfish guys,” said Black, who scored five points in the clincher and averaged six points, seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals a game in the championship series.
“We had one down when Nick went down. We have been here before. Our core is the same every year. We knew we had to dig deep. Nick is a big piece of what we are but all five of us could do it.”
Learning that Davidson was unavailable, Black sent a pregame message to Levy.
“I texted Lior saying I need a big game out of you,” recalled Black with a laugh. “He told me it is back to 2012 and he has got me always.”
Levy and the LoyalTees squad had extra motivation in the wake of the untimely death of Tuwmaa Parker, a friend to some of the team’s players whose funeral service was held earlier in the day.
“We were all thinking of him too and dedicated it to him,” added Levy, referring to Parker’s passing.
In assessing the late surge by LoyalTees which was led by a 21-point, six-rebound performance from playoff MVP Zahrion Blue, Black pointed to the team’s dedication to each other and victory.
“It is chemistry, we have been there before,” said Black. “When times get hard, we play defense. When you have a team full of guys who can play offense and just as good defense, that is the main thing. We are unselfish, we don’t care who scores. We care about the end result and that is winning.”
For Levy, winning a title in his first season with the team made for a special summer.
“It is awesome, first of all they are all great guys,” said Levy.
“I played with some of them in the past and I know how they play. They know how to play with me. It was pretty easy for me to jump in even though they have had this squad for a couple of years now.”
Helping LoyalTees achieve the title three-peat was a matter of coming full circle for Black.
“Growing up, I watched Ivy Inn and Winberie’s, they always won two, they didn’t get that third one so this is very important,” said Black.
“I got some young kids who I train, they look up to me. I looked up to Bobby [former PHS and TCNJ star Bobby Davison who was one of the referees last Wednesday] growing up. Now is my turn to give back to them. It is awesome, it just goes around.”
Black and his teammates are primed to keep their title run going in 2022. “Always, we will be together every year,” asserted Black. “LoyalTees will be back, it is always fun to come out here.”