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Hardwood Classic Middle School Showcase

By Ty Postell, 06/27/24, 9:00AM PDT

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The Hardwood Classic went down Father's Day weekend at The Dunn Center in Elizabeth NJ. NoBoyzAllowed and Younglife Athletics welcomed some of the best middle school programs in the tri-state area to compete for the First Annual Hardwood Classic title. With two EYBL programs represented in Exodus NYC and the New Jersey Gemz along with the likes of Team Sharp, Riverside Hawks and Palisades Elite the competition was sure to be intense. 

With five brackets ranging from 4th to 8th grade and 70 plus games slated for the one day event with the five courts running simultaneously, the sports annex was buzzing with great match ups across the board. We had a few buzzer beaters, upsets, double overtimes and rivalries sparked with every game fought tooth and nail. It was a great day of basketball. 

14U DIVISION CHAMPS - RIVERSIDE HAWKS

The 8th grade division was set gauntlet style as teams had to win in order to play on and the loser moved out the back end of the bracket while the winners advanced. When the smoke cleared, the Riverside Hawks & the NJ Raptors set to battle it out. The game was competitive from start to finish with a battle between 28’ Sophie Feeney and 29’ Crystal Thomas as the two traded baskets and made plays for teammates in a fast paced game. 29’ Giuliana Huaranga of NJ Raptors made big plays on both ends in the second half to keep it close. Crystal Thomas took it to another level late in the game as she sliced and diced, dropped dimes and buried perimeter shots to gain control of the game. Side kick 29’ Brielle Bennett of Riverside was a force on the boards and made a few big plays to help secure the Hardwood Classic Crown !! 

13U DIVISION CHAMPS - TEAM SHARP

The 7th grade division title went to Team Sharp as they were 2-0 getting through a tough match up in a barn burner versus Exodus NYC that was decided at the buzzer. 29’ Angelyn Almonte was the most effective player on the court as she displayed elite athleticism and shot making ability to get team Sharp out to an early double digit lead. The play of Exodus NYC 32’ Amari Price and 29’ duo of Abby WilliamsKailee Fitzgerald helped close a demanding lead late in the game with a few clutch 3’s and the defensive of 29’ Whitney Tse allowed Exodus NYC to take its first lead of the game with under 1:30 on the clock. As the lights got brighter the defense and physicality of 29’ Ava Britt on the boards along with timely shots from range by 29’ Amaya Walker. With game tied a late turnover led to a tying 3 ball by Angelyn Almonte to set the stage for Amaya Walker’s game winning floater at the buzzer. This game was an Instant Classic !!

Vid Cred: RecruitmeTV

12U DIVISION CHAMPS - TOPNOTCH

Top Notch continued its winning ways with a dominating performance in the 6th grade bracket in route to the Championship. The guard play of sharp shooter 30’ Lele Lopez and 32’ Mia Lawson was in sync as they were seemingly unstoppable all weekend. Add in the size of big guard 30’ Arianna Walker who does a little bit of everything and 30’ 6’1 Amber Lewis controlling the boards and making plays around the rim, they are a tough out. Team Sharp had a solid weekend overall with strong play from 30' Kensie Nelson and budding post player in 30' 6'1 Layla Hernandez in early games and battling to the final horn sounded in the championship.  

11U DIVISION CHAMPS - NEW JERSEY GEMZ

Late entry to the Hardwood Classic were the eventual Champions as the New Jersey Gemz 5th grade rolled through to the Championship. They ran into a hot Riverside Hawks team with a few Championships under their belt already. Both teams were well coached and the players were locked in as it was a defensive battle all game. Riverside's 31’ Iyanna Davis was aggressive on both ends of the floor and on the boards and teammate 31’ Melanie Torres showed up scoring a couple of big buckets to keep her team in the game.  With the back and forth battle 31’ Amanda Isaacson and 31’ Isla Gentile stepped up and put the team on their backs taking over the offensive load to help extend the lead and secure the Championship title !! The Hardwood Classic may have witnessed the beginning of a rivalry for years to come ?

10U DIVISION CHAMPS - RIVERSIDE HAWKS

In a battle between Local Club and AAU program with a rich history, this may have been the most exciting championship game of the day and yes it was a 4th grade.  The Paramus Spartans and Riverside Hawks had court 1 packed as the parents and fans marveled at the young talent. Both teams were well coached, displaying great ball movement, running sets and mixing it up defensively. Coach Al Trawally (RW) and Brian Manzano (PS) are teaching and planting the right seeds for their young teams. The game started with an early lead led by Riverside 32’ Madison Navarez with a few buckets early and finding teammates after steals off the press which frazzled the Spartans from the start. After an early time out the Spartans floor general 32’ Sofia Manzano settle her squad and hit a big shot from deep to get the Spartans on the board followed by a couple of plays by teammate 32’ Brielle Pantiliano to right the ship and went on their own run. In the 2nd half, 32’ Payton Mullin got rolling and had the eye of the tiger as she was all over the court causing havoc on both ends to help secure the 3 point Championship victory and be rewarded the Most Outstanding Player of the Division. Great game, safe to say these young squads will be getting after it again in the near future. 

Hardwood Classic Recap << VID CRED: SheShotDat

STANDOUTS

28' Skylar Guilliod - NJ Raptors

A multi faceted player who does all the dirty work for her squad. Decent handle but reliable, very effective defender that is disruptive on the perimeter with her activity. She rebounded well as she mixed it up on the inside gaining extra possessions.. A reliable finisher around the rim with nice touch that extends to the 3pt line.  

28' Alyssa Lopez - Castle

Kid continues to show the work she puts as it is translating to game play. Each time out she is becoming more confident. An athletic, quick guard that gets end to end in a flash putting pressure on defenses. Still finding consistency with the long ball but can get it going. Her next play mentality is noticeable and a great attribute, she seems to never get down on herself she just continues to work.  

29’ Sophia Freeney - NJ Raptors

Athletic guard with speed and tight handles, she excels in transition, great change of direction with acrobatic rim finishes. She plays with great pace, ability to read help defense and get to her spots for mid range pull up, which is pure. Also has solid court vision as she consistently found her teammates for easy baskets.  *2025 WNAAG Watchlist

29' Brooke Solfkanich - NJ Gemz 

Young post that rim runs naturally to get early post position, has good hands and feel as she made a number of great passes out of double teams finding open shooters. A beast on the boards, good outlet passer and teased with the ability to start the break. She set solid screens and moved into space well for open opportunities with a nice touch on her jump shot, she is gonna be a difficult match as she continues to develop.  

29' Ava Britt - Team Sharp

Size strength and a load of physicality was eye popping. She is a force on the boards, has good hands and finishes well through contact. Physical and active defender that can guard 1-5. A nice upside, I'd like to see improved shooting and ball handling as she continues to develop at the guard position.

29' Amaya Walker - Team Sharp

Amaya displayed elite lateral quickness and strong handles as she  eluded traps and made the right plays as she seemed to see a few plays ahead.  She has great motor and is a solid shooter,  knocking down timely 3 pointers throughout the day. She is aggressive on ball defender and plays with a bit of a chip on her shoulder.  One to watch

29' Brielle Bennett - Riverside Hawks

Big guard with extreme athleticism on the wing. Her length and quickness was a handful for defenders as she set up teammates off the bounce using her height to see over defenders. Insane first step,  she got into the lanes at will finishing at the rim with either hand.  Simply put, she is a match up NIGHTMARE !!  *2025 WNAAG Watchlist

29' Whitney TSE - Exodus NYC

A poised player with a high IQ and feel for the game. She plays under control and plays within herself.  A reliable defender that communicates, has solid instincts. She did a great job creating traps out of the run and jump defense. Added strength and speed is needed but will come with time.

29' Abby Williams - Exodus NYC

A budding wing that has taken her play to another level. She is aggressive off the catch and utilizes ball fakes well to get defenders off balance for down hill attacks. A reliable shooter from range that's not scared of the moment as she hit a few big ones late in the closely contested game, kid is a gamer. 

30' Mia Lawson - Top Notch

The little guard with big game. Extremely shifty and quick, she was a problem for every defender that faced her. Range on her jump shot and her stop and go is electric as she is crafty splitting traps, getting downhill where she seemed to always make the right decision. Defensively she is a ball hawk with great instincts,  and quick hands that bottled up opposing guards. 

30' Arianna Walker - Top Notch 

Big guard with a high ceiling.  A work horse type that uses her frame to her advantage. Nice footwork and improved ball handling she is comfortable on the wing, a solid finisher around the rim and does the work on the boards. She is a difference maker for this Top Notch squad.

30' Layla Pressley -Exodus NYC 

Up tempo guard with elite athleticism and body control. She has a nice handle package executing in/crosses and hesitation moves to get defenders off balance as she constantly got in the lanes.  Attack mentality and plays in air with ability to absorb contact and still get her shot off. Can get a bit out of control but that's typical for her age. Still finding her jump shot but got to her spots and was fairly accurate. 

30' Kaitlyn Alexander - Exodus NYC

Combo guard that is very aggressive offensively and when its all said and done may be considered as one of the top shooters in this class. A quick release and always shot ready, she knocked down multiple 3's in each game and some from well beyond the arch. High motor defensively and disruptive on ball, long arms an quick hands give her an advantage.

30' Niamh Donnely - Palisades Elite 

The slender framed guard played great in transition and wasn't scared of contact as she constantly put pressure on defenders. Sneaky athleticism, she showed solid change of pace and direction moves at times looking unstoppable. Nice touch from 3 point range, the form is there so the percentage will increase with reps. She attacked the boards well, started the break and was an efficient outlet passer.  

31' Kaylee Mauro -Exodus NYC

A very serviceable guard that gives whatever her team needs from game to game. She has solid ball handling skills, a willing passer and she can put the ball in the basket. Attacks close outs well finishing with a nice touch on mid range pull up or floater in traffic. Defensively a DAWG as she bottled opponents up forcing turnovers and shot the gaps with her anticipation gaining a number of steals. Look forward to watching her development.

31' Iyanna Davis -Riverside Hawks 

A solid frame that attacks the boards with reckless abandonment and can finishing through contact. She did a good job playing the high post attacking the rim, taking short jumpers or kicking out to shooters.  As her IQ increases and skill set continues to develop, her game will blossom. 

31' Madison Navarez -Riverside Hawks

Love her hustle, energy and swagger, it makes you take notice immediately. She is laser focused and plays hard on every play,  applies pressure on opposing guards and is a menace in the press. A score first mentality she is always in attack mode and showed good vision finding teammates as she made some pinpoint passes off the bounce. 

32' Amari Price -Exodus NYC

Elite guard that plays three years up on the 7th grade level. Although young she is the lead guard and sets the table for her team. Solid frame allows her to handle physicality, ball handling package keeps defenses honest and shot making ability on all three levels is above average. She fits the bill to be next up in a long line of elite Exodus NYC guards.  

32' Sofia Manzano - Paramus Spartans

The little guard out of Bergen County came into the Hardwood Classic ready for war!! The floor general helped lead her team to the Championship game with her performance.  She handled the ball well, showed poise under pressure and found open teammates. She finishes well around the rim and showed her range with a few clutch 3's throughout the day. 

Names to know

14u Division

Nelly Strong - Riverside Hawks / Giuliana Huaranga - NJ Raptors  / Brooke Solfkanich NJ Gemz / Spencer Hantman - NJ Gemz / Stephainie Morano - NJ Gemz / KK Townsend - Castle /  Autum Hartfield / Team Miller Heat  / Navea Witherspoon - Team Miller Heat / Kimberly Camejo - SheNatural

13u Division

Kaylee Fitzpatrick - Exodus NYC / Jordynn Wilson - Exodus NYC / Grace Delaney - Palisades Elite / Addisyn Brinez - Palisades Elite / Amber Lewis - Top Notch 

12u Division

Layla Henderson - Team Sharp / Kensie Nelson - Team Sharp / Lola Bonita - Palisades Elite /  - Exodus NYC / Emerson Pendergast-Palisade Elite

11u Division

Isla Gentile - NJ Gemz / Nina Mcarthy - NJ Gemz / Melanie Torres - Riverside Hawks / Jallyca Valente - Exodus NYC 

10u Division

Brielle Pantiliano - Paramus Spartans / Makayla Srdak - Paramus Spartans / Serenity Hooper - / Riverside Hawks / Brielle Coquia - Team Sharp / Nasiya Smith - Team Sharp / Myah Richards - MSU