Locals take part in ‘Rumble in the Bronx’

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An impressive collection of AAU basketball talent was assembled this past weekend at Fordham University for the Rumble in the Bronx tournament. Among the Queens natives who “rumbled” this past weekend included former Cardozo standout Ryan Williams, Christ the King guard Mike Claxton and forward Peedy Nelson, former Newtown star Charlie Villanueva and Molloy point guard Marlon Smith.

Williams, who played this past season at Redemption Christian Academy in Schenectady, was instrumental, along with teammate Nelson, in Riverside Church’s run to the 17-and-under class finals. The bullish 6-foot-4’ forward gave the Church a solid post presence, active on the glass and following a number of shots with thunderous dunks. Williams was a vital interior cog for an undersized group and did everything in his power in the finals as the Church lost to a disciplined Howard Pulley all-star team from Minnesota, 79-77 in overtime, chipping in 24 points in a losing effort.

“I’m not sure what happened,” said Williams after the loss. “The last time we played them we beat them by 30. I guess it was because of the fatigue.”

Riverside played six games over the course of the weekend, including three on the tournament’s final day, Sunday. The rigorous schedule clearly took a physical toll on the athletes.

“I was somewhat happy with how I performed this weekend,” said Williams. “But I missed a lot of easy lay-up.”

Nelson, despite coming off an injury, gave Ernie Lorch’s group some quality minutes off the bench.

“There was a lot of good competition this weekend and I played well,” said Nelson. “But I’m just coming off an injury. I had water in my knee and was out for a month and a half. This was my first time back.”

Another Christ the King standout who participated in the Rumble was guard Mike Claxton. Claxton teamed up with a slew of local stars for the Long Island Panthers, among them former Lasalle star Lenny Cooke, who is contemplating a jump to the NBA. The team advanced to the quarterfinals of the event before succumbing to the suffocating defensive pressure of the New York Ravens, falling 82-68.

“Playing with all these great players, these All-Americans, teams are always going to get up for you, so you always have to be ready to play,” said Claxton, who scored two points in the loss and will be traveling to the Adidas Three Strikes Tournament, the Double Pump Tournament in California and the National AAU Championships in Las Vegas this summer.

Helping the Ravens through their first day of competition was Jamaica native Charlie Villanueva. The 6-foot-9’ forward was active at both ends of the floor in the Ravens’ opening game win over Washington Heights, blocking and altering shots defensively while helping out on the glass.

“I’m happy with how we played as a team tonight,” said Villanueva, a junior at Blair Academy. “But that was only part of our team today.”

As far as college suitors, Villanueva was non-committal about the early stages of the process.

“I’m totally open right now as far as colleges,” he said. “I’m trying to stay low key with that.”

Another local who used the tournament as an opportunity to showcase his skills was Molloy’s Smith, a sophomore point guard. Smith showed leadership and poise under pressure in guiding the Gauchos to an appearance in the semifinals of the under 16 age group before falling to eventual tournament finalist Team Texas.

Reach Contributing Writer Brian Towey by e-mail at or Call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

Posted 7:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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