When the Empire State Games faded into history, 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.
And that included a Central region boys team which overcame a slow start and made it all the way to the championship round before seeing its dreams of a gold medal cut short.
Coached by Henninger’s Erik Saroney, the Central squad included Westhill’s Jordan Roland, newly committed to George Washington University, joined by Bishop Ludden teammates Jack Rauch (back from the knee injury suffered in the Section III Class A final last March) and Zach Walser. All had played in the Summer Hoops Festival in 2013.
Beginning play on Aug. 1, Central lost to Hudson Valley 74-62 despite Roland’s 18 points, 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.