BRUNSON LEAGUE 2017 REVIEW
February 1, 2018 By Kendall Hilton (Fan-i Sports) Share:
The summer of 2017 in Baltimore was a glorious one.
In its fourth summer, the Brunson League was at the forefront of summer basketball. The UA House on Fayette Street was the place to be every Sunday, many spending the entire day watching Baltimore's best battle it out. The first Sunday of the Brunson was a quick indicator of how the summer was going to go. The gym was full and the fans were involved in the game. It also was a preview of the Championship game, PTF and Sam's Ballers were the headliners opening night. The mob from DC established themselves as one of the heavy-hitters in the league. J-Dubb led Sam's Ballers with 18 points, capping off the 55-52 victory with a 180-dunk. There was someone missing from that first game though...
Will Barton for PTF.
Because of NBA rules, Will wasn't allowed to play until July 2nd. For the month of June though, the league was buzzing. Each week brought out more fans. The defending champs, LND were still the favorites despite the early success of Sam's Ballers and the shortcomings of PTF. Those were the three early favorites but the Warriors, Lyfe, One Love, and Team Focus didn't hit their stride just yet.
One of the best games early on was the week 3 matchup between PTF and One Love. One Love proved to be a worthy opponent going up against the bigger PTF mob. It came down to the final two possessions of regulation. Tone Barton went by Alvin Parker on an iso and layed it up for what everyone thought was the game-winner. One Love rushed down the court with under five seconds remaining, and tied the game thanks to a controversial buzzer-beater lay-up by Wayne Sparrow, sending the game into overtime. Parker led One Love to a 71-67 victory in overtime, finishing with 22 points 6 dimes and 5 boards.
The game right after that might have been a better one. LND and the Warriors went down to the wire but without overtime. Seven players total scored in double figures, Sean Farr being the most notable with 18 points and the game-winner with 1.4 seconds remaining, giving LND the victory 71-70. Terry Hosley led all scorers with 19 points.
These games set the tone for how the rest of the summer would play out. The games became more intense, chippier, and the underdogs were playing as if they were the favorites.
Fourth of July weekend, brought out the stars. Morgan State legend Reggie Holmes made his Brunson debut scoring 17 points for the Bulletproof mob, joining Sean Mosley. Baltimore legend Mo Hatten also made his debut matching up against Will Barton. Barton led PTF to a convincing 62-57 victory over Lyfe, dropping 19 points, 10 boards, 5 dimes, 3 blocks, and 3 steals. Hatten finished with 18 points and 7 boards. The game didn't live up to the hype but it had its moments.
While the entire league was focused on Barton and some of the other big names, reigning MVP Brent Arrington was playing the best basketball. Arrington was the 2016 Brunson MVP because of his versatility, doing everything on the court. It was the same story for the first half of the summer. Brent had many believing he would be MVP again, but after a rough outing against Will a lot of that momentum slowed down.
After Brent the MVP momentum shifted to Stanton Kidd of LND. Stan was everyone's favorite player to watch, even Will took notice of the former Edmondson-Westsider. Kidd showcased his all-around offensive game whenever the opportunity presented itself but he was still a team player. He never forced shots or took the ball out of his teammates hands. He got his buckets within the offense, which doesn't happen too often in street basketball. Stanton's biggest game came in a loss against Sam's Ballers, Stanton scored 30 points in three quarters with a running clock going 6/8 from behind the arc. If it wasn't for a controversial corner three by Mo Creek that sent the game into overtime, LND would have won the game.
But LND should have won that game. Because Sam's Ballers was late, they were penalized 9 points and lost a quarter, so they started the game [in the 2nd quarter] trailing 9-0. It didn't matter though, in three quarters they walked the defending champs down, giving them their first loss of the summer. It was arguably the best game of the summer and it made everyone realize that Sam's Ballers were real. Mo Creek and J-Dubb were establishing themselves as the best backcourt in the league, both bonafide MVP contenders.
As we headed into August, PTF and Sam's Ballers were the teams to beat. Both were making highlight reels but their games were intense. The Warriors, CMB, and Team Muhammad all gave PTF their best stuff with Team Muhammad being the only team to knock off PTF. That game featured Omar Strong and Aquille Carr putting on a show in a packed gym against Barton and former Duke Blue Devils star guard Quinn Cook in the final game of the regular season. Omar's game-winner over Tone was my best play of the summer, sending everyone on the court in a frenzy despite it being 3 seconds left in the game. That was the moment when I realized the Brunson League had arrived. Every Sunday during the summer of 2017, led up to that moment. The city was behind the Brunson.
Going into the playoffs, it was three teams people viewed as true championship contenders; PTF, LND, and Sam's Ballers. Lyfe turned out to be a contender making it to the final four. What should have been a great final four day - Lyfe v. Sam's Ballers and LND v. PTF - ended up being a controversial mess. The court was moist and made it almost impossible to play a competitive basketball game. Not only that, players' safety was at risk. The slippery floor cost Lyfe and LND a fair chance to compete for a spot in the championship game. All four teams decided to still play despite the floor's condition but it was a bad way to cap off a great summer.
In the championship game, it was PTF v. Sam's Ballers. The matchup everyone wanted to see, exactly how we started the summer. Both teams agreed not to bring out any heavy-hitters and come with their original mob. The biggest difference was Will Barton. Barton dropped 43 points, the most he scored all summer. In our post-Brunson interview, Will admitted this summer was the first time he was the main target in a league. Everyone wanted to prove themselves against the NBA shooting guard but no one could get the best of Will, including Sam's Ballers.
The only thing missing from this summer was a Melo v. Will matchup. From June 4th to August 13th, Baltimore had one of the hottest summer Pro-AMs in the country. Everyone wanted to know what was going on in the Brunson League and when they came, they wanted to be a part of it. The atmosphere of the Brunson this summer reached new levels. It was Baltimore basketball at its finest. Top hecklers and former Baltimore hoop stars Gerald Brown and Ed "Butts" Tyson brought the best out of all the players and made sure they all knew when it was time to step it up. The Brunson League represented the city of Baltimore in the best way, showcasing the city's toughness, grittiness, talent, and basketball community. And the best part of it all, there was no violence.
Summer 2018 will be bigger and should include more of Baltimore's premier hoopers. According to Will Barton, no matter who comes to play, PTF will remain the kings of the city. Stay tuned!
#1 Sam’s Ballers defeated #16 G2S (108-85)
#2 LND defeated #15 Team Finesse (78-64)
#3 PTF defeated #14 Bulletproof (80-54)
#4 One Love defeated #13 West Panthers (64-52)
#12 Lyfe upset #5 Team Focus (76-72)
#11 MaurStrong upset #6 CMB (79-74)
#7 Da Pac defeated #10 PT Hoops (98-74)
#8 Warriors defeated #9 Team Muhammad (88-85)
#1 Sam’s Ballers defeated #8 Warriors (80-71)
#2 LND defeated #7 Da Pac (71-66)
#3 PTF defeated #11 MaurStrong (54-51)
#12 Lyfe upset #4 One Love (69-68)
#1 Sam’s Ballers defeated #12 Lyfe
#3 PTF defeated #2 LND
#3 PTF defeated #1 Sam’s Ballers (80-77)
Points -- Will Barton (28.4 ppg)
Assists -- Alvin Parker (9 apg)
Rebounds -- Deng Deng (10.4 rpg)
Steals -- Kam Taylor / Warren Wright (2.17 spg)
Blocks -- Deng Deng (3.4 bpg)
Threes made -- Omar Strong (32)
FG made -- Antoine Myers (58)
FG% -- Donte Nichols (33/41 = 80.5%)
FT% -- Camontae Griffin (20/24 = 83.3%)
3PT% -- Andre Jackson (18/29 = 62.1%)
Most Valuable Player -- Stanton Kidd, LND
Defensive Player of the Year -- Deng Deng, Team Finesse
6th Man of the Year -- Christian ‘Boo’ Jackson, Sam’s Ballers
Coach of the Year -- Sam Giles, Sam’s Ballers
Tournament MVP -- Will Barton, PTF