by Anthony J. Scherer
For New Pittsburgh Courier
It was championship week for the Connie Hawkins Youth Summer League. The semifinals took place at the Penn Hills YMCA where the four top teams would face off to see who the best was.
In the first game number one seed Imani went up against the four seed Rise High. Imani was led by Daylon Harris who had 18 points and Aidan Howard who added another 11 points. The combination of Harris and Howard was too much for Rise High. With only five players available, Rise High needed a boost and got it from Alex Kasardo, who scored 13 of the teams 29 points. But with Harris and Howard leading the way, Imani breezed into the finals by the score of 50-29.
CHAMPS—IMANI CHRISTIAN ACADEMY
The second semifinals game had the second seed Pittsburgh Pressure against Umoja. This game was a back-and-forth battle throughout that ended up going into overtime. The Pressure was led by Jack Marold, who had 10 points, two of which were scored in overtime. Joey Kusserow helped out with nine points. For Umoja, it was the Sean Lyons show throughout the whole game. He led all scorers with 20 points, six of which were scored in last four minutes to help send the game in overtime.
In overtime Umoja was unable to continue to the success they were having late in the second half. They were getting tired and Lyons was unable to get free for good shots.
The Pressure scored four points and that was enough to give them the 50-46 victory.
Then it was time for the championship game.
With a packed house, the two best teams all season were going to battle it out to see who was best. Throughout the first half and early parts of the second half there was no clear cut better team. No team had a lead bigger than four until midway through the second half.
That was when the Pressure figured out what Imani was doing. They went on a great stretch where Imani couldn’t figure out their offense and they were playing some great team defense. However, after an Imani timeout they came out more focused on defense. With the help of Harris, who was later named MVP of the tournament, they were able to get back into the game.
Harris finished with 10 points, seven of them coming in the second half. When Harris started to pick his game up that was when the whole team picked up their game as well. They were playing better defense and moving the ball a lot better on offense. That proved to be too much for the Pressure, who were trying to do it with only six players on their team.
With Harris leading the way, Imani went on win the Connie Hawkins Youth Championship 45-36.