All eyes were focused on Bryan Smith, a senior at Midwood High School, during the three games of the fifth annual High School Holiday Hoops Tournament at the Aviator Sports & Events Center in Brooklyn.
Smith started out ‘on fire’ with two straight long-range three-point shots against Franklin D. Roosevelt High in the championship game of the tournament.
Smith answered back in the second half with a drive in toward the basket and on his long-range shooting and carried the Hornets to a victory over FDR, by a low scoring game of 46-44.
Smith’s 63 points, including 20 in the title contest, thus earned him the Most Valuable Player award of the tournament.
On hand was a recruiter, assistant coach at Emanuel College of Boston, Mass. Albert Hayle, who seemed very interested in him.
Originally, Hayle came from Jamaica to Brooklyn, but after moving from the West Indies, played his high school ball at South Shore, not far from Midwood High.
“Smith has great hands, rebounds (well), blocks shots, commands the ball in the post, calls for the ball, and rotates over on defense,” said Hayle, while watching the game. “When he gets the ball in the post, he goes up aggressively and keeps the ball up, which is great for all big men. And he does a great job.”
It was Smith who helped to rally Midwood from a second half deficit to win the FDR games on his basket with about 1.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
“We watched a really good game,” said Hayle. “And the teams were well coached. They stick to the offensive and defensive philosophies. It was low scoring because of the good defenses and patience that the teams used.
Getting the MVP trophy means a great deal to Smith.
“It shows that my hard work pays off,” the 6’2” Crown Heights resident said. “We came into the tournament with one thing – to win the championship. And we did good.”
Smith, who is averaging 35 points and eight assists a game, had exploded for 68, his high game of the year in a Midwood uniform. It came at Madison High School.
“I hit all my shots and we won the game,” he added.
In addition, to the school record of points, he had 239-point games and a 49-point one this year.
However, winning the Aviator tournament meant a lot to him and his teammates. As a sophomore and again as a junior, Smith’s squads finished in third place in the same tournament.
The turning point in the title game last week came when the Hornets added pressure on the defense in the fourth quarter.
“FDR has been our rivals for years,” he went on. “We lost to them twice last year….”
“It wasn’t one of our best performances but we came out with a win,” said Midwood Coach Victor Djecat. “It was one of those games that whichever team had it last took the shot and won it. Lucky we made the shot. It felt good to finally win it.”
In the third place game of eight-team three-session tournament, Curtis also of the Public Schools Athletic League and located in Staten Island turned back Molloy of Queens and of the Catholic schools system, 59-57.
Considering the weather, the crowd for the three-session annual tourney was good. Everybody made an effort to get to see these exciting games.