Boys’ Wrap-up
Mustangs rise 
to the top 
in Northeast
Prep Tourney 
By Ron P. Coderre
A couple of lesser stars rose to the occasion in leading the Putnam Science Academy Mustangs to the championship of the Northeast Prep Basketball Tournament.  Foul trouble plagued Mamadou Diarra and Hamidou Diallo in the title game, opening the door for a pair of guards to lead the way to victory for coach Tom Espinosa and his stable of Mustangs.
Jaheam Cornwall and Eric Ayala, two players who’ll be back in Putnam next season stole the show, leading PSA to an opening round 105-86 victory over Rocktop Basketball (RISE Academy) of Philadelphia and a hard fought 103-94 win over Coastal Academy in the championship contest.  The victories raise the Scientists record to 36-3 as the team heads to Albertus Magnus College for the National Prep School Championships.
Cornwall opened the championship game the same way he had played in the first game of the tourney.  Coming off the opening game in which he tied a school record with nine three-pointers, the quick point guard nailed four treys in the first half propelling the Mustangs to a 61-50 advantage at intermission over visiting Coastal Academy of New Jersey.  Cornwall finished with 17 points.
The second half became a seesaw battle as Coastal, led by Anthony Tarke, who had 34 points, kept his team in the game hitting shots from every conceivable angle on the court.  Coastal got as close as seven points down with 1:23 remaining but was unable to narrow the gap any further despite outscoring the hosts 44-42 over the final 20 minutes.
The hot shooting Ayala led a second half Mustang assault with slicing drives to the hoop every time Putnam Science Academy appeared to be on the ropes.  Ayala led six Mustangs in double figures with 27 points.  Diarra was huge under the hoop on both ends as he finished with 15 points, 17 caroms and five blocks.  Other double figure scorers included Diallo (15), Saul Phiri (14), and Tyreek Perkins (11).  Tyere Marshall coming back from a hyperextended knee injury added six points in limited action, while Collin Sawyer and Darnell Brodie played significant roles when they were on the court.    
“I’m extremely proud of my guys for the way we kept it together.  Coastal is a very good team and they certainly gave us a run for our money.  Every player on our team who saw action today contributed to this win even if they didn’t score.  It was a team victory,” said coach Espinosa.
In the opening game on Friday evening over Rocktop Basketball, Cornwall led the way with 27 points, all from beyond the arc.  Diarra, headed to UConn in September, posted a double-double with 26 points and 12 rebounds.  Ayala, who’s been playing extremely well of late, contributed five points, 10 assists and five rebounds.
Cornwall, who tallied 44 points in the tourney, was named the tourney Most Valuable Player.  He was joined on the All-Tournament team by his teammates Diarra and Ayala.  Also selected to the team were Tarke of Coastal Academy, Anderson Mirambeaux of Redemption Christian Academy and Aristan Johnson of Rocktop Basketball.
“I’m very happy for Jaheam.  When he came to us from New York he was known as a scorer.  He really came into his own in this tournament.  I give him credit for his patience all season.  He’s a young man who’s improving every day,” said coach Espinosa.
In the consolation contest Redemption Christian defeated Rocktop Basketball 133-97.  Coastal Academy reached the title game by defeating Redemption Christian 103-99 in the opening game of the tourney on Friday.
Tournament Tidbits: This was the 5th Northeast Prep Basketball Tournament.  Putnam Science Academy has won four.  The only tournament they lost was in 2012, which was won by Kimball Union…Previous tournament MVPs included Zaquan Nelson (2011), Abdul-Malik Abu (2012), Scoochie Smith (2013) and Jordan Butler (2014)…Honorary coaches for the championship game were Brooke and Kyle Stringer of Putnam, members of the Mustang Kids Club…Division I coaches on hand for the title game included Glenn Miller of UConn and Bobby Walsh of the University of Maine…The title game was officiated by Charlie Lee and Jay Steere of Board #35.  Lee and Bill Bartholic refereed the opening game of the tournament…All members of the Mustang Kids Club in attendance at the championship game were presented autographed team photos by Headmaster Don Cushing…Rocktop Basketball was a late tourney entry, replacing Mount Zion of Maryland.  Rocktop made the trip from Philadelphia and was a little late for the Friday opener…All the gate and concession proceeds from the tournament were donated to the family of Kaylee Fowler of Putnam who lost her life on February 23…Putnam’s Moe Coderre sang the National Anthem before the start of every game, as well as handling clock duties.  Ryan Rumrill was the tournament official scorer and Jim Dexter managed the 30-second clock…Cornwall tied former Mustang Taquan Zimmerman for the most three-pointers in a game with nine.  Zimmerman recorded his feat against St. Andrew’s on January 22, 2010.
Putnam Wins its Final Game of the Season
The Putnam Clippers closed out the regular season schedule with a well deserved 75-68 road win over Wheeler High School of North Stonington.  The Clippers sophomore Dan Porcic led all scorers with 34 points.  He outdueled Wheeler’s Alex Haines who had 31 markers.  Brevon Harmon added 14 points for the 11-9 Clippers.
Coach Shawn Deary's charges jumped out to a 37-27 lead at intermission.  They withstood a 25-point fourth- quarter surge by the Lions to pull out the victory.
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