Never say never: Aqua Science vs. Evans & Hill recap
Updated: Jul 18
Perseverance was a major key in the match between Aqua Science and Evans & Hill – both teams seeking an important win to stay in contention for a playoff spot. Aqua Science entered with a record of 1-2, but with losses against ENS and Silver Lining, the only two undefeated teams remaining at game time. However Aqua Science was missing eight players, so it needed major contributions from its starters. On the other hand, Evans & Hill entered with a record of 0-2; mostly trailing in its first two games, but displaying strong play in the paint. Starting fast was important, but the stakes seemed to impact each team from the jump.
Scoring was at a premium in the first eight minutes as Evans & Hill lead 6-5. Both teams struggled early on with missing open shots, and committing turnovers, but did not struggle with rebounding. Richie Gordon (Aqua Science) and Griffin Kenny (Evans & Hill) engaged in a physical battle, challenging each other to see who could get the most rebounds, three-point chances for teammates, and put backs for themselves; all while staying out of foul trouble. As a result, more three-point opportunities arose for each team, led by Jeremiah Hunter (Aqua Science), and Will Hill Jr. (Evans & Hill), respectively. Hill Jr. outscored all players in the first half overall, but his team had miscues at the free throw line, missing its first four attempts before Matt Bingaya made his first two nearly 14 minutes into the game. As a result, Evans & Hill faced a 37-30 deficit at halftime, but would have more chances to surge. Moments into the second half Richie Gordon appeared to hurt his ankle after setting a screen. Despite initially walking gingerly, he dribbled coast to coast, shot a fade away, and drew a foul on the following possession. However, Evans & Hill used Gordon’s ankle and lack of rest to stage a comeback despite trailing by as many as twelve points in the second half.
Led in scoring and rebounding by Griffin Kenny and Matt Bingaya, Evans & Hill permanently stayed within two possessions of Aqua Science, starting with eight minutes remaining. Jeremiah Hunter hit a three with 2:30 minutes left, giving Aqua Science a 66-61 lead, but also giving his team its final scoring play of the game. With the same score at 59 seconds remaining, Evans & Hill’s Hasan Varence was fouled and went to the free throw line. Varence made the first attempt, but missed the second, which surprisingly started a five-second sequence that completely changed the game. Matt Bingaya tapped in the rebound to make it 66-64, then stole the inbounds pass underneath the rim for another layup to tie the game at 66. Then, after his team secured a defensive rebound, Matt Bingaya was fouled with 17 seconds left. He made both free throws to give Evans & Hill a 68-66 lead, its first since leading 6-5 eight minutes into the game. Griffin Kenny made one of two free throws to extend the lead before Aqua Science called a timeout to advance the ball with 2.6 seconds left. Despite outscoring Evans & Hill behind the arc in the game, Aqua Science’s game-tying three-point attempt rimmed out, which gave Evans & Hill its first win of the tournament, 69-66. For his efforts on both ends, and double-digit scoring output in the second half, the Mojo Sports Gear Player of the Game was awarded to Griffin Kenny, who acknowledged that chemistry was a major factor as four players on his team played at Delaware Hayes High School.
Evans & Hill improves to 1-2 and will face RX Bridge (1-2) on Saturday, July 18th at 1:30 pm. Aqua Science finishes the tournament with a record 1-3.