July 21, 2021

LoyalTees Takes 1st Step to Summer Hoops 3-Peat As Bailey’s Sharpshooting Sparks Win in Quarters

TITLE DRIVE: Terrance Bailey, left, drives to the hoop for LoyalTees in a recent game in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Last Monday, Bailey scored a game-high 22 points to help top-seeded and two-time defending champion LoyalTees defeat eighth-seeded The Basketball Team (TBT) 71-64 in the league quarterfinals. LoyalTees will now face fifth-seeded Planet Fitness in the semis on July 23 after it edged fourth-seeded SpeedPro 44-42 in the other quarterfinal contest on Monday. The quarterfinals will be concluded on Wednesday when second-seeded Majeski Foundation faces seventh-seeded NJ Path and third-seeded Caesar’s Bagels and Deli takes on sixth-seeded Princeton Supply. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As top-seeded LoyalTees faced eighth-seeded The Basketball Team (TBT) last Monday night to tip off the quarterfinals of the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League, the two-time defending champs were shorthanded.

LoyalTees was missing top inside threat Nick Davidson and the squad’s leading scorer, former Princeton High standout Zahrion Blue, was en route to the Community Park courts.

But that didn’t stop Terrance Bailey and his teammates from showing their championship pedigree as they jumped out to a 46-30 lead at halftime before an overflow crowd at the courts. Making up for the late-arriving Blue, sharp-shooting Bailey led the way, tallying 19 points, draining three 3-pointers along the way.

“It is playoff time,” said Bailey. “With us being back-to-back champs, we have to set the tone early. We came out swinging out of the gate. Zahrion is a leading candidate for MVP and definitely the leading scorer on our team so with him being a little late we had to pick it up.”

After Blue showed up and got into the action, Bailey assumed a playmaking role as LoyalTees held off a late charge from TBT, which is comprised of recent Princeton High boys’ hoops players, to prevail 71-64.

“For me it is not about points, it is getting everybody else involved,” said Bailey, who ended up tallying a game-high 22 points in the win with Davon Black adding 19 and Vince Anfield chipping in 18 for the victors.

“As soon as Zahrion came into the picture, I think I only scored three points in the second half. I was trying to get everybody else involved. It means a lot because of our team chemistry. I look at the young guys to lead the team, lead us to victory and to the championship again.”

Things did get a little dicey in the second half as TBT kept battling to the final horn with Gefen Bar-Cohen scoring 19 points and Ethan Guy contributing 13.

“We had a talk about keeping our composure throughout it all,” said Bailey, reflecting on pulling out the win which improved LoyalTees to 7-1 this summer.

“We are not going to slack on them just because they were the high school team. You have to treat everybody the same.”

As one of the more veteran players on the squad, Bailey feels a responsibility to instill a positive vibe.

“It is the brotherhood and the trust; you have to have trust in your teammates to go ahead and succeed,” asserted Bailey.

“For me, not only being a player but being a coach and a big brother to the whole team, I just look at them and tell them to keep their mindset up, keep their heads up, and stay focused.”

In Bailey’s view, that focus will be needed for LoyalTees to achieve a title three-peat.

“We need to stay humble, stay hungry and keep our composure,” said Bailey of the team that will face fifth-seeded Planet Fitness in the semis on July 23 with the winner advancing to the best-of-three championship series starting on July 26. “Everybody has to have one mindset to win and get another ring.”