Familiar faces at Pro-Am
The Greater Hartford Pro-Am final is set.
You'll recognize a few names in the best-of-three championship series that starts tonight at 7:15 at the Sports & Medical Sciences Academy gym in Hartford.
The Simoniz All-Stars face the Doc Hurley All-Stars. Game two is Tuesday night. If necessary, game three will be Wednesday.
Former NBA player Vin Baker of Old Saybrook headlines a Simoniz team stacked with local talent. Simoniz advanced by beating the Sparks Motor All-Stars, 116-110, in Sunday's semifinals, becoming the first No. 8 seed to reach the finals.
Former New London players Corriche Gaskin and DeJohn Joseph-Exum scored 23 and 11 points, respectively, for Simoniz. Cassius Chaney, a 2005 Old Saybrook High School graduate and brother of former New London standout Allan, chipped in 16 points. Baker had seven points and former Boston University player Matt Turner had 30.
"It's fun playing with Vin," said Gaskin who had 32 points in his team's quarterfinal win last week.
In the second semifinal Sunday, Doc Hurley rallied from a 23-point first-half deficit to beat Club Palace Slamm, 115-107. UConn's Kemba Walker sparked the comeback by scoring 28 of his 30 points in the final three quarters. Anthony Johnson added 23 and UConn teammates Roscoe Smith (11) and Alex Oriakhi (six) also made contributions.
Former UMass standout Gary Forbes had 47 points for Club Palace, which raced out to a 46-23 lead early in the second quarter before Doc Hurley answered with a 26-3 run. UConn sophomore Ater Majok had 16 points and about seven blocks for the losers. Former Husky guard Craig Austrie added 12 points.
In one entertaining moment, Walker kept playing after the whistle and took it right at Majok who blocked the shot. The UConn teammates exchanged smiles.
Some other observations and news from Sunday's action:
-- Smith, a freshman this fall at UConn, played his best basketball Sunday when running the floor and finishing off fast breaks. He was tentative in the half-court set.
-- Majok was a force on the defensive end, challenging anyone entering the lane. Offensively, he made one nice baseline move for a basket but misfired from the outside.
"I was just trying to help my team win," said Majok when asked about his blockfest.
-- Walker and Jared Jordan, who led the nation in assists one season at Marist, combined Sunday to form an exciting backcourt duo. They both can shoot from distance as well as find open teammates.
Fresh off playing for a college select team against the U.S. world championship team finalists in New York, Walker watched most of the first quarter from the bench before entering the game and making an immediate impact.
-- A heart problem might jeopardize Allan Chaney's season at Virginia Tech. Looking forward to playing this fall after sitting out a year as a transfer, he suffered a setback last spring.
At the end of an off-season workout in April, he couldn't catch his breath. He walked over to a chair and passed out. When he woke up, he said he felt fine.
"Inflammation of the heart -- Myocarditis," said Chaney of his condition. "It came out of nowhere. They said maybe I got it when I got sick. Hopefully, if it goes away, I'll be ready by the season."
If not ready by middle of January, Chaney says he'll take a medical redshirt.
Chaney will be examined every month. He's on medication and also takes iron pills, fish oil and vitamin C.
-- In the Greater Hartford Pro-Am women's championship Sunday, finals MVP Maria Conlon, a former UConn guard, led Next Level Lady All-Stars to a 51-42 win over Pocket Wireless.
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