Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 31
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
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GRINDING IT OUT: Mike Williston heads to the hoop for It’s A Grind in recent action in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Last Monday, Williston scored a game-high 18 points to lead It’s A Grind to a come-from-behind 43-35 win over Princeton Youth Sports in the opening round of the league playoffs. Eighth-seeded It’s A Grind will face No. 1 George’s Roasters and Ribs/Ivy Inn in the league quarterfinals on Wednesday at the Community Park Courts in one of four matchups in the playoff quadruple-header.

It’s A Grind Sparked by Slick Guard Williston to Advance in Summer Men’s Hoops Playoffs

Bill Alden

It would have been easy for Mike Williston and his teammates on It’s A Grind to throw in the towel as they played Princeton Youth Sports last Monday in the playoffs of the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League.

Starting the game with just four players, eighth-seeded It’s A Grind found itself trailing No. 11 PYS 16-4 some 10 minutes into the contest. With a fifth player showing up, It’s A Grind reeled off a 13-0 run to get back into the game.

Trailing by three early in the second half, It’s A Grind was reduced to four bodies for the rest of the evening after one of its players was ejected from the game.

With point guard Williston triggering the offense and a box zone defense thwarting PYS, It’s A Grind pulled out an unlikely 43-35 victory.

By virtue of its courageous effort, It’s A Grind earned a date with top-seeded George’s Roasters and Ribs/Ivy Inn in the league quarterfinals on Wednesday at the Community Park Courts.

The other quarterfinals matchups in the quadruple-header will feature No. 2 Northwestern Financial against No. 12 with third-seeded Dr. Palmer taking on No. 6 Cool Runnings and No. 4 Prime Time Camps facing fifth-seeded Coldwell Banker.

The semifinals are slated for August 1 with the survivors to face off in the best-of-three championship series starting on August 4.

Williston, a former Hightstown High standout, was proud of the character It’s A Grind displayed in topping PYS, which is comprised of Princeton High boys’ hoops players.

“I guess just heart pretty much; we had to fight through things,” said Williston, who scored a game-high 18 points in the win with Vance Williams adding 15.

“We didn’t want to go home. This is a tough CVC team. I played for Hightstown and I know Princeton. I know they run well. I’m just happy we pulled it off.”

In Williston’s view, it was the team’s defensive intensity that paved the way for the victory. “We had to play hard defense; that’s where it starts,” asserted Williston.

“I think it was our defense that led to our offense. We had a box going; we just tried to pressure the ball up top and front the post.”

Williston took matters into his hands when It’s A Grind had the ball.

“Offensively, I just wanted to attack the basket,” explained Williston. “I had confidence that I could beat anyone off the dribble. I just kept taking it; I was hoping to get a foul or make the bucket.”

Once It’s A Grind pulled ahead, Williston employed a more patient style.

“Hightstown is known for slowing the ball down; Don Hess [Hightstown head coach] taught me well,” said a smiling Williston. “I know how to work the ball; I grew up that way.”

After pulling out the shorthanded win, Williston is hoping It’s A Grind will have more bodies on hand when it faces George’s in the quarters.

“I have been in this situation before but in those games we didn’t come through with a win,” said Williston, who is entering his sophomore year at Monmouth University and hopes to walk on to the school’s basketball team.

“This is big; I have to give it to my teammates, they all played hard. This is a great league; I want to go far in the playoffs. I’m hoping more guys on our team will show up on Wednesday.”

And if It’s A Grind’s players show up Wednesday with the same kind of intensity they displayed against PYS, they could make things hard for George’s.

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