Drew League Week 9 Recap: Game of The Year MVP James Harden Season Debut

And it all came crashing down. The 26-0 Birdie’s Revenge, who needed only one more victory for the all-time Drew League record win, came up short.

“It took the Houston Rockets,” as Coach Tracey Mills said, to figure out how to take the Birdie’s Revenge empire down.

The game of the year was undoubtedly a matchup everyone had been anticipating all season, with circulating rumors that the reigning NBA MVP, James Harden, would make his Drew League season debut.

Spectators made it a priority to come early to secure a spot on the bleachers to survey the long-awaited matchup between Franklin “Nitty” Session and James Harden. A line wrapped around the corner of 120th Street outside King Drew High School showed the fanfare behind the dueling MVP’s.

Harden suited up for LAUNFD alongside his Rockets’ teammate PJ Tucker. The two joined forces with newly resigned Clippers’ center Montrezl Harrell and former Rocket, Bobby Brown.

All season long, Birdie’s has made the King Drew hardwoods their playground, and their opponents as toys to be played with, with week 8’s highlights of Franklin Session vs. Denzel Valentine attesting to that.


However, Birdie’s Revenge did not go down without a fight against LAUNFD. The first quarter of the match started off on a close run, as both teams exchanged equal energy. It was only a teaser of what to expect in the playoffs. However, Birdie’s found themselves in a second-quarter predicament as Marcus Bell got himself ejected from the game for the second time this season after things got heated up between him and PJ Tucker.

LAUNFD led 45-32 at the half, which had been the biggest deficit Birdie’s experienced all season.
Birdie’s Mike James and “Nitty” put in work, as they attempted to carry the team on their backs devoid of their big man. James ended the game with 32 points and was 7 for 10 from 3-point attempts. “Nitty” added 23 points, 6 assists, and 9 rebounds, but this wasn’t sufficient to stop Harden and Harrell.

With minutes remaining in the final quarter, Harden lobbed one to Harrell for the slam. It set the dynamism for the remaining minutes. Harrell’s showcase of dunks, Harden’s 26 points, and LAUNFD’s energy were unmatched. Undoubtedly, Harden was the X-factor in dethroning Birdie’s Revenge’s 26 game winning streak.

Sixteen teams remain, but only one will take home the coveted trophy. There will be no room for any slip-ups and excuses. Teams from here on out will have to produce to earn their respect.

 

The first round of playoffs tip-off Friday, 6:30 pm at Los Angeles Southwest College.

 

Drew League Week 5 Recap: Coach Off Between Baron Davis and Nick Young, Montrezl Harrell Goes Off for 37 points

The Drew League experienced its first official lockdown of the season as Nick Young’s Most Hated Players (M.H.P.) battled against Baron Davis’ BB4L. It’s safe to say it was a wild and exciting week of action at the Drew League. Here is a recap of the top three matchups from week 5:

BB4L vs. MHP

(Jada Stokes/LoJo Media)

When two Warriors and former champs go head to head, it tends to do things like shut down the entire gym. The Drew League experienced its first lockdown game of the season as the charismatic spectators flooded in to watch former Warrior Baron Davis’ undefeated BB4L team face off against current Warrior and reigning champion Nick Young’s undefeated M.H.P. team. 

There were many heated moments as Swaggy P and Davis traded choice words. Davis remained standing at the head of the bench for the entire game. It appeared as though the player-coach was ready to suit up and play. The scene made for great entertainment for the capacity crowd.    

BB4L’s Keith Shamburger got hot early. He nailed 5-5 from the field, a foreshadow of him ultimately being named Player of the Game. BB4L kept rolling and maintained a consistent lead heading into each quarter.

Both teams heading into second half played tight defense while the offense lagged. M.H.P. had an opportunity to tie the game in third quarter with a pair of free throws.

“Sped them up, made them shoot quick three’s and as soon as we got the ball it  just run and get good layups and open shots,” said former league MVP and champion Casper Ware Jr. on their approach and strategy. They did just that and moved forward without a blemish to their perfect 6-0 record.

Pandas vs. Clozers

With only one decisive victory this season, the Clozers’ small-bodied team continued to scramble to find their missing puzzle pieces in hopes of becoming a more complete team. The Clozers’  size and lack of bodies remains a concern that will need to find a proper answer when facing teams with notable Drew League veterans, such as former league MVP Vince Camper and former NBA player Metta World Peace.

The Pandas approach against the Clozers was a simple yet effective strategy, match their energy.

“[The strategy] was to outplay them,” remarked Camper who scored 22 points in the victory on Sunday. “They’re a younger team, so match their energy, make them play.”

Clozers’ “run and gun” approach was a tactic that fell short against the Pandas. From Missed shots to simply failing to box out, and having an incomplete roster served as a major factor for the “L” they took.

“First of all we have to get some bodies out there, I mean I myself can’t be playing center and it’s putting me out my game,” said Clozers’ Corey Hill. “We gotta stay focused, box out, stay playing physical and make shots. We just wasn’t making shots.”

Hank’s Panthers vs. LAUNFD

LAUNFD and Hank’s Panthers, the battle between the two undefeated teams, went full throttle to dethrone one another’s winning streak. The beast mode was activated early, Montrezl Harrell (Trezz) went off for 37 points and nine rebounds, rightfully earning “Player of the Week” honors.

(Nick Tomoyasu/LoJo Media)

“We just look at it as another game and just went in and played the right way,” said Trezz. “We don’t go in matching records with nobody, we go in it playing one game at a time.”

Trezz and his teammates might not lose sleep over where their team ranks, but this win extended their record to 6-0.  

Hank’s Panthers were missing one of their anchors on Saturday, Salem Mawugbe. The Panthers allowed LAUNFD to build a nine point lead against them, which shifted the momentum and extended to a 21-point deficit in the third quarter.

Although the Panthers may not have that one identifiable superstar that carries the team, their chemistry is what has been winning them games.

“Our team is really balanced,” Da’Shawn Gomez stated. “Everybody gets within 10-15 points, going forward I think we’ll be fine.”

Above photos courtesy Nick Tomoyasu/LoJo Media