Portsmouth, Va., April 5 -- The Portsmouth community hosting the 50th annual PIT is one proud of its military heritage and service to the nation. Period posters from a revered military era intoning that the Marines are “Looking for a few good men” still occupy the walls of many local establishments.
The platoon of NBA scouts in attendance at the PIT this week are “looking for a few good men” who can put the ball in the basket. In a tournament that has featured aggressive defense throughout, the shooters finally made their presence felt in Friday’s semifinals. In the opener, Portsmouth Sports Club shot 51 percent and rained down nine three-pointers in taking a 94-89 decision over Naval Shipyard and advancing to Saturday night’s final.
David Bluthenthal of USC (game-high 21 points) and Jobey Thomas of Charlotte (17 points) were the primary three-point marksmen for PSC. Bluthenthal connected on 4-of-7 from downtown and Thomas nailed 3-of-7 from that range to keep PSC just ahead of its opponent. But the hot shooting for PSC extended to the slashing types as well. Adam Hall of Virginia made 9-of-13 attempts as he penetrated seams in the defense for 20 points, becoming one of five players in double digits for PSC.
Despite PSC’s hot shooting, Naval Shipyard hung right in with scintillating shooting of its own. Syracuse sniper Preston Shumpert (team-high 18 points), Andy Ellis of Texas Tech (14 points) and Brian Brown of Ohio State (14 points) consistently hit the 18-to-20 foot jump shot to stay in the hunt. Naval Shipyard actually took an 85-81 lead with just over four minutes to go on a driving layup by Damir Krupalija of Illinois (team-high 10 rebounds). That’s when diminutive guard John Linehan of Providence took over for PSC.
Linehan, the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, showed he could make an impact on offense as well, scoring eight points in a 13-4 closing surge by the Portsmouth Sports Club. Linehan, not known as a great outside shooter, nailed a pair of 20-footers, the second of which gave PSC a 90-85 lead with 1:33 remaining. Linehan, at 5-foot-8 one of the grittiest defensive players in the nation, finished the game with 15 points, four steals, four rebounds and three assists.
MD DESIGN 80, BEACH BARTON FORD 79: Clarence Gilbert of Missouri is a streak shooter who can score big when he is feeling hot from long range. Gilbert had one of his trademark scorching days Friday and his seven three-point bombs, including the game-winner with 40 seconds remaining, helped MD Design continue their storybook run into Saturday’s final. MD Design erased a 23-point deficit and won Thursday to gain a berth in the semifinals.
Gilbert hit a trio of three-pointers in the first half to help MD Design enter halftime trailing by only a single point at 38-37. But he was just getting warmed up. Gilbert tallied 14 points in the second half, produced mostly by hitting four of five shots from three-point range. Sean Kennedy of Marist (nine points, five assists) gave Beach Barton Ford a temporary 79-77 lead with a beautiful right-handed banker off the glass with 57 seconds remaining.
When MD Design worked the ball to Gilbert, there wasn’t much doubt what would happen. Despite a couple of defenders in the vicinity, Gilbert drained his seventh three-pointer of the game to give MD Design the winning margin. Beach Barton Ford had one last chance to win after gaining possession and calling a timeout with 11 seconds remaining. Kennedy found John Salmons of Miami (team-high 10 rebounds, five assists) in the right corner with an inbounds pass, and Salmons penetrated and wrapped a pass around two defenders to Monte Cummings of Florida State in the lane. Cummings missed a heavily-guarded one-hander in the lane, and the ball was tipped out to midcourt as the clock expired.
Aaron McGhee of Oklahoma was not as dominant as he had been on Thursday, but still tallied a double-double with 13 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. A pair of players who played college basketball in the state of North Carolina led Beach Barton Ford. Antwan Scott of Wake Forest led Beach Barton with 18 points and Cam Stephens of Charlotte contributed 13 points and nine rebounds.
CONSOLATION BRACKET – RIDDLE ACURA 106, NORFOLK SPORTS CLUB 92: Randy Holcomb of San Diego State led six players in double figures for Riddle Acura as he threw down 22 points and 10 rebounds in the afternoon consolation round game. Holcomb added three assists and three steals for Riddle Acura. After being torched by 58 percent field goal shooting on the part of Norfolk Sports Club in the first half, Holcomb and Company tightened things up in the second half to erase a 52-48 halftime deficit. Riddle held Norfolk to 41.5% shooting in the second half while blistering the nets for 58 second-half points.
Kris Lang of North Carolina contributed 14 points and team-high 12 rebounds in the win, and was supported by Kevin Lyde of Temple (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Sean Peterson of Georgia Southern (12 points, five assists, four steals).
Byron Mouton of Maryland produced another fine effort in defeat, scoring 24 points, notching 10 rebounds and five steals. Powerful Corsley Edwards of Central Connecticut State, a 6-8, 280-pound bruiser, bulled his way to 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Matt Barnes of UCLA tallied 15 points.
3 p.m. – Consolation Final – Sales Systems vs. Riddle Acura
5 p.m. – Third Place Game – Naval Shipyard vs. Beach Barton Ford
7 p.m. Championship Final – Portsmouth Sports Club vs. MD Design