Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tucker's Shooting Display Propels Tigers

These County Center rims are notorious, having tarnished the reputation of shooters across Westchester County.

No lie.

 For the better of decades, they’ve been difficult to solve. 

 The rims are tight enough to hurl a deadeye trigger man of JJ Redick or Steph Curry’s caliber into a 3-for-14 or 5-for-17 clank-fest.  

The depth perception of the arena, the big-stage feel to it, can create jitters for young teams.

Fortunately for White Plains' Jordan Tucker, the 4-0 Tigers practiced on the County Center floor prior to his debut. It allowed the 6-foot-6 freshman to get shots up, developing a feel for the perennial Westchester proving ground.

Fitting, as it was Tucker's shooting that sparked the Tigers' 74-48 dismantling of Cardinal Spellman at the Slam Dunk Challenge Saturday.  

Tucker went on a shooting spree, scorching the nets to the tune of 34 points. He shot at a 12-for-19 clip, sniping 6-of-11 from beyond the arc.

Tucker scored 24 points during the one-man scoring onslaught of a first half. Tucker's  steady salvo of 3-pointers and pull-up jumpers piled onto Spellman, burying them into a 17-point deficit.

 Those rugged and unforgiving and shooter-slaying County Center rims suddenly looked wider than the Hudson River.

Tucker, who has received offers from Oklahoma, Detroit, Providence, Fordham, and Manhattan, authored the third highest point total in tournament history.

Sleepy Hollow native Tony Taylor, the former George Washington University stud out of Stepinac, sits atop the list with a 54-point explosion back in 2007.

 Somers’ John Decker dropped 39 during last year's tourney, catapulting the then-senior to second.

By the end of the night, the common question circling Tucker was if he'd be at White Plains for the long haul.

Tucker possesses the potential to be Section I’s best player, come mid-February.

It is certainly lofty aspirations for a freshman.

“I have big expectations but it doesn’t really bother me, because I’m a big time player,” said Tucker, whose game has garnered the interest of Miami, Arizona, Virginia, and North Carolina.

“I want this pressure and that’s when I’m at my best.”

Spellman wasn’t at its best yesterday, with defensive issues surfacing in the second half. The frustration compounded in the third quarter, when Tucker was left astonishingly open for a deep baseline jumper.

Guard Dom Arena paced Spellaman offensively, attacking the rim without a trace of trepidation.

 Arena, who once played at Iona Prep, finished with 20 points.

As effective as Tucker was, he clearly wasn’t alone.

Senior guard Mike DeMello doled out a game-best nine assists, primarily feeding Tucker. Bullish Marshon Morris snared nine rebounds and Justin Tapper emerged as a supplement to Tucker, scoring 14 points to go with nine boards.

Practicing on the County Center floor certainly paid dividends for White Plains, which plays Middletown at 7 PM tonight in the championship.