Normally rivals, Cicero-North Syracuse’s Connor Evans and Liverpool’s Tyler Sullivan were working together during the first weekend in August, helping the Central Region team to a second-place finish in the Summer Hoops Festival at Johnson City, near Binghamton.
When the Empire State Games faded into history (it was last held in 2010 in Buffalo), members of the Basketball Coaches Association of New York did not want to leave a void in statewide summer competition.
Thus, the Summer Hoops Festival was born, and from Aug. 1-3 many of the top basketball players in the state, representing nine different regional teams, made their way to Johnson City, near Binghamton, to vie for BACNY bragging rights.
Evans and Sullivan were part of a Central squad that featured, at the top of its roster, Westhill’s Jordan Evans, who had announced a couple of weeks ago his verbal commitment to George Washington University in the fall of 2015.
Beginning play on Aug. 1, Central lost to Hudson Valley 74-62, but would rebound with a pair of impressive victories a day later, smashing Nassau County (Long Island) 104-39 as Walser scored 17 points and Roland added 15 points.
With a win over Rochester, Central finished 2-1 in pool play and moved into the semifinals on Aug. 3, where it faced the other Long Island team, from Suffolk County, and overcame a double-digit deficit to win 87-78.
Trailing by 11 at the break, Central again turned to Roland, who picked up 35 points to lead the Central comeback, setting up a championship-game rematch with Hudson Valley that started immediately after the Suffolk game.
It was a quick turnaround, and as it turned out, the semifinal took a lot of energy out of Central. Just as it had done two days earlier, Hudson Valley prevailed again, this time 103-63, to take home the Summer Hoops Festival title.