Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 32
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
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(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)

UNSTOPPABLE: Derick Grant of Koehler and Company, right, races past Nick Wilson of Mercedes Benz of Princeton last week in the championship series of the Princeton Recreation Department Men's Summer Basketball League. Grant produced some of the best play in league history as he led Koehler to a 2-1 in the series. Grant, a former star guard at Montgomery High and The College of New Jersey, averaged 36.7 points a game in the final series, pouring in a league-record 54 in Koehler's 80-79 quadruple overtime win in Game Two. Grant fired in 33 points in the third and decisive game last Sunday to lead Koehler to a 75-61 win and the title.

Grant Explodes for Historic Performance as Koehler Takes Summer Hoops Crown

Bill Alden

Derick Grant was a member of the supporting cast when Dana Communications won the playoffs six years ago in the Princeton Recreation Department Men's Summer Basketball League.

This summer, Grant was determined to play a leading role for the Koehler and Company squad as it went for the title in the summer league.

"I wanted to take responsibility if we won or if we lost, said Grant, a former star guard at Montgomery High and The College of New Jersey. "With Dana, I was kind of a role player. I was coming off the bench; I wasn't an integral part of that team."

The 6'2, 187-pound Grant, who just completed his first season touring with the Harlem Globetrotters, put his nose to the grindstone this summer to ensure that he would excel as Koehler's main man.

"The first couple of weeks I was home, I worked real hard," said grant. "I was working out at Dillon, I was getting into the Seminary gym sometimes. I was playing wherever I could."

Grant's diligence helped him produce one of the greatest playoff performances in league history as he scored 36.7 points a game in the best-of-three championship series to shoot Koehler past Mercedes Benz of Princeton for the league crown.

The sharp-shooting Grant capped his superb summer by scoring 33 points last Sunday night at the Community Park courts as Koehler pulled away from Mercedes 75-61 in the third and decisive game of the series, a contest that was delayed from Friday to Sunday due to Mercedes not having enough players to field a team on the originally scheduled date.

Adam Hyncik scored 12 points and Wanny Carter added 10 to help Koehler's finish with a 9-4 record. Vernon Hicks poured in 26 points with Duane Hicks chipping in 12 as Mercedes, the league's regular season champions, ended the summer with a 10-3 record.

Grant's brilliance as a scorer and a leader was never more evident than in game two of the series when he poured in a league-record 54 points to help Koehler overcome a late deficit and prevail 80-79 in quadruple overtime as it evened the series at 1-1 to keep its title hopes alive.

"I've never been in a game like that ever," said Grant, who scored 1,543 points in his TCNJ career to rank second all-time in program history.

"The emotions, the competitiveness, both teams going back and forth and then being unable to get stops. It was a great game."

In Grant's view, that game exemplified Koehler's fighting spirit. The team trailed Mercedes by nine points with 4:43 left in regulation and by six points going into the last minute of the second half. Grant, though, hit two three-pointers and three free throws while teammate Anthony Brown made a big steal and hit two free throws to force overtime.

"People may look at us and say they are not a very good team but this team has a lot of heart," asserted Grant.

"We have a lot of scrappy players that go after loose balls and do whatever it takes to win. I think that is what separates us from the other teams; we'll literally do anything to win. That showed in that game when we were down by nine points. I told them don't ever give up until that buzzer sounds, anything can happen."

Grant and his teammates didn't want any of the same drama on Sunday as they built a 31-23 lead at halftime of the third and final game of the series. With Grant heating things up from the perimeter, Koehler pushed the lead to 60-36 with seven minutes left in the second half and cruised home from there.

"We knew that they were a dangerous team," said Grant, who was named as the league's regular season MVP and the Foreal Wooten Playoff MVP.

"We had extra motivation; we had wanted to play Friday. We said that when we did get the chance to play them that we wanted to put the game away early. We didn't want to be down in the first half like we were in the first two games. We had a lot of emotions riding on this game. We wanted to tighten up the defense and play good offense. We wanted to make a statement."

It's safe to say that Grant made quite a statement with his heroics this summer.

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