By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
Tired from playing in the semifinals an hour earlier, both Rockford Auburn and Rockford Boylan battled in a summer game worthy of early March.
Things got tight in a back-and-forth game late, but the Knights knocked down a slew of late 3-pointers, as well as grabbed some timely rebounds, to hold off a Boylan rally, leading Auburn to a 66-60 win in the finals of the Harlem Summer League.
“Obviously, that is the way you want to end your summer, on a win in a championship game,” Auburn Head Coach Bryan Ott said. “It always feels better when you end it with a win.”
It was the end of an impressive evening for the Knights.
In the semifinals against Rockford East, Auburn trailed by 1 at halftime and was in a tight game midway through the second half. The Knights turned up the defensive pressure, and started hitting shots, racing to a 70-53 win.
Against Boylan, their defense did a good job of keeping the ball out of Titans star Brock Stull’s hands. Stull had a good game, knocking down some key shots during two separate second-half runs, but the Knights’ pressure made it tough to get the ball in his hands.
Boylan was able to cut the lead down to 2 late in the game, but the Titans could not come up with a rebound on a missed Auburn free-throw, giving the Knights another chance to seal the game.
The Knights were led during the summer, as they will be during the regular season, by guards Laytwan Porter and Phil Trammell. The two guards not only drive the offense, but lead the tenacious pressure defense the Knights apply.
“You have two kids there that both have a boatload of varsity experience,” Ott said. “On top of that, they both have a tremendous passion and intensity on the floor. Their motor is always going. Our pressure would not work as well without their tenacity.”
Winning during the summer, when players are missing in different games and up to 40 games get played in five weeks, does not guarantee success come the regular season. But if the play at Harlem is any indication, this should be an exciting regular season full of great rivalries.
“As meaningless as summer is in the big picture of the season, for the players on the team, it can give them confidence to get a win against a conference foe that they will see a couple of times during the season,” Ott said. “On the other hand, for Boylan, it will ramp up their intensity for us after a loss.”
From the July 24-30, 2013, issue