Sparked by Clutch Play from Jones Down the Stretch, Princeton Supply Wins Summer Hoops Championship
SUPPLY AND DEMAND: Troy Jones of Princeton Supply puts up a shot in recent action in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Last Wednesday, Jones tallied 20 points with six rebounds, five assists, two steals, and one blocked shot to help Princeton Supply edge LoyalTees 57-54 in game two of the league’s best-of-three championship series to sweep the finals and win the title. Jones, a former Notre Dame High and East Stroudsburg University standout, was named as the Foreal Wooten Playoff MVP. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Although Princeton Supply pulled away to a 66-54 win over a short-handed LoyalTees squad in the opener of the best-of-three championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League, Troy Jones knew that earning a title was still going to be a struggle.
“We just knew that we had to play our game,” said Princeton Supply star guard Jones in assessing the team’s mindset as it came into Game 2 last Wednesday night at the Community Park courts. “We knew it was going to be a way different game than the last game. It was a much tougher game.”
A proud LoyalTees team, which has won three league titles in the last five years, displayed its championship mettle as it built a 31-25 lead at halftime, bolstered by the addition of Nick Davidson and Vince Anfield who weren’t on hand for the opener on July 31.
Jones and his teammates, though, were unfazed by the deficit.
“With Phil (team manager and coach Phil Vigliano), we are always composed and poised,” said Jones. “We have all been there before. We are not scared of the moment. The people he put in there were the closers.”
Trailing LoyalTees 53-48 with just over a minute remaining in the contest, Princeton Supply showed its poise and closed the deal, going on a 9-1 run to pull out a 57-54 victory and earn the title.
Quayson Williams hit a three-pointer from the corner to give Princeton Supply a 55-54 lead with Jones adding a lay-up in the rally. After the game, the handshake line turned into a series of hugs between the players as the foes showed their respect for each other.
In reflecting on the comeback, Jones credited it to Princeton Supply’s competitive fire.
“It was intensity and defense,” said Jones. “We knew had to keep running and keep pushing them and they would eventually wear down. They missed a lot of free throws tonight.”
Jones made a big shot in the late run, racing in for a key bucket in the last minute of the game.
“They left me open and I was like, this is easy,” said the 6’0, 170-pound Jones, a former Notre Dame High and East Stroudsburg University standout. “This is what we work on and do all the time.”
Putting in good work over the championship series, Jones earned the league’s Foreal Wooten Playoff MVP.
“It is a lot, it is an honor,” said Jones, who tallied 20 points with six rebounds, five assists, two steals, and one blocked shot on Wednesday after scoring 28 points in the opener. “I couldn’t be MVP without my teammates. I can’t be who I am or go where I want to without my team.”
Mike Kane proved to be a key teammate for Jones as he tallied 16 points with five rebounds and one steal in the win last Wednesday.
“That is the Notre Dame connection, me and my boy Mike,” said Jones of Kane who went on to star for Drew University. “We actually never got to play with each other there. Coming out here and being able to see how good he got since high school is amazing to me.”
The influence of Vigliano helped Princeton Supply connect.
“Coach Phil is the greatest coach; he built this team around shooters and players that play hard and put all of the work in and make smart decisions,” said Jones. “Defense is our game plan, that is our mentality.”
Vigliano, for his part, praised LoyalTees, which got 21 points from Zahrion Blue and 20 from Davidson last Wednesday, for pushing Princeton Supply hard.
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight, I give that team so much credit,” said Vigliano, who runs a basketball training business and whose coaching stops include Delaware Valley University and Princeton High. “They actually make me bring a great team like this because of them. They bring out the best, they have such classy guys. I love those guys, many of those guys played for me in other leagues.”
In reflecting on Princeton Supply’s second half comeback, Vigliano credited his veteran guys with digging deep.
“You try to get everybody in in the first half and you try to see who is hot,” said Vigliano. “Some of these guys just don’t have the experience in a game like this. There is something to be said for experience, so I had to lean on those other guys.”
Princeton Supply certainly leaned on Jones down the stretch. “That is why he was a scholarship player and he is a professional,” said Vigliano of Jones, who competes for the Al Wathba Homs in the Syrian Basketball League and previously played for Cilicia in Armenian Caucasus Basketball League.
While Jones played a key role for the squad, Vigliano saw the triumph as a total team effort.
“Shaquan Worthy is our point guard; other than scoring, he checks every single box almost better than any player with rebounds, assists, and steals,” said Vigliano. “Mike Kane being so strong and resilient was big. He played almost the whole game and he still had enough to get legs into his shot or get to the basket. Terry Taylor was big. Amori Spence has to be the newcomer of the year; the kid averaged 16 points, he was great. Trevor Giordano was so, so solid for us, as was Jake Manuel.”
For Vigliano, a Princeton Summer League stalwart who had never earned a title until this year, getting the crown was special.
“It is great,” said Vigliano. “They just connected and they shared the basketball. We have four college guys, two pros, and my rec players are at the top of their game. We took the talents that they had and easily jelled it into a team.”
Jones, for his part, was proud of how Princeton Supply jelled into a champion.
“It is hard work. We all came together at midseason,” said Jones. “We got put together as a team and it was able to work. To be the champion in such a little time was amazing.”