Updated: Feb 24, 2021
By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
Friday afternoon featured two charter schools from Springfield: the Renaissance Phoenix and the Baystate Academy Bulls. The game took place at the South End Community Center.
Early in the game, Renaissance had the advantage. They were getting easy shots at the rim and getting layups in transition. Baystate played a 2-3 zone most of the game. In the first half of the 1st quarter, they let Renaissance get in to the middle of the zone and Renaissance made easy passes to baseline cutters for uncontested layups.
Baystate started the game cold from outside the paint. They had to work for all their shots. Their main source of offense early in the game was Tyrese Christie. He got some shots off moves in the post and offensive rebounds.
(Allah in the lane)
The Baystate zone tightened up but Renaissance was still able to get out in transition for easy layups. Renaissance led at the end of the 1st quarter 15-10.
(Baystate defends paint)
The 2nd quarter opened with two nice plays by Baystate’s Dion Byrd. He hit a 3, all net, to open the quarter. He also made an assist for a layup. Those two plays tied the game at 15.
The 2-3 zone for Baystate was still having issues and Renaissance got easy layups. The game was tied twice in the 2nd, at 21 and at 24.
When the game was tied at 24, Baystate Junior Travis Jordan started to turn his energy up and make an imprint on the game. He and Byrd hit back to back 3s. A jumper in the lane by Christie put Baystate up 29-24. Renaissance got a bucket before halftime. The second ended 29-26.
Renaissance had the advantage in the paint in the 1st but not by size. They used ball movement and cutting to the basket to get the lead for most of the 1st half. Baystate's offense started to "click" in the 2nd quarter. Their forwards were active on offensive glass.
The 2nd half was dominated by Travis Jordan. He scored 11 points in the third quarter. Jordan and his teammates started getting to the basket on drives. They started to move the ball better. They maintained a 10 point lead throughout the 3rd and the quarter ended 47-37 Baystate.
(Travis Jordan Goes up for layup)
Renaissance HC Quintin Fowlkes didn’t let his team give up. The 4th opened with a 7-0 run by Renaissance 😳. They got most of the points off transition layups. Renaissance Senior Nahdir Thomas hit a FT-line jumper to narrow the lead to ☝🏽, 47-46.
(Renaissance team huddle)
On the next offensive possession (the play after the Thomas jumper), Baystate’s offensive possession was going nowhere. Baystate HC Dion Byrd vociferously called a timeout. He was not happy with the team’s offensive possession.
Baystate didn’t score after the timeout and Renaissance’s Akbar Allah got a fast-break layup to put Renaissance ahead 48-47.
The 🎹 from the huddle must have clicked in after that layup, Baystate went on a 7-0 run.
Also, in the midst of the run, Travis Jordan crossed the 1,000-points milestone 🙌🏽👊🏽. Dion Byrd threw him a nice pass and Jordan finished with a left-hand layup. The buzzer sounded and their was a brief celebration in the gym.
("1K" Travis Jordan)
[Transparency: I was fumbling around with my camera when Jordan scored the basket 😔. I was on the opposite baseline and I heard the buzzer go off and people started screaming 😳 😂.]
Renaissance couldn’t mount a comeback, especially after the pause in the game to celebrate Jordan. Baystate’s 2-3 zone finally found what it was missing: active hands and arms. They started to get deflections when Renaissance would try to pass from the interior. They made it harder for Renaissance to get the ball in the middle of the zone by pressuring the ball more.
Baystate came back from an early deficit and Jordan is now in the history books for Springfield HS 🏀. He is the 1st 1,000-points scorer in Baystate history.
They won the game 61-51.
Scorers for Baystate:
“1K” Travis Jordan - 22 points
Tyrese Christie - 19 points
Dion Byrd - 9 points
Tareeq Evans - 6 points
Jerrel Casey - 3 points
Maxwell Jones - 2 points
Scorers for Renaissance:
Nahdir Thomas - 15 points
Akbar Allah - 11 points
Lajuan Carter - 10 points
Damari Peters - 7 points
Jacob Sutter & Marvin Jean Mary - 4 points
Kristen Hernandez - 2 points
After the game I spoke with both coaches and Jordan.
⚫️Renaissance HC Quintin Fowlkes🔴
How long have you been HC?
“This is my first year as the Varsity HC. I been with the program, 6 years as a coach and I graduated from the school in 2010.”
Can you tell us about your “paint” offense in the 1st and 2nd quarter?
“The paint offense just happened to come. We have a lot of strong big men and we focus on moving the ball and letting the ball find who is gonna score; we did a great job of that in the 1st half...and it helped us get to a good lead to start the game.”
What have you gotten out of Nahdir Thomas this year and his years in the program?
“He was a player who played for me on JV awhile back, left and came back last year. A key role player to our varsity last year but his year he get his chance to shine. Unfortunately, COVID takes away from his opportunity. He is a Senior leader. He’s the voice; he keeps everybody at a calm level. He is the guy we look to provide leadership in tough spots.”
Why do think Baystate got easier shots in the 2nd half?
“I think its a combination of...their experience on their side, a nod to their coach and their upperclassmen; they got a lot of Varsity experience over there. A lot of our guys are new to those crunch time situations. I think we got comfortable; we got away from working as hard as we could and that’s exactly what hurt us. When you give a good team an opportunity to show that they are the better team, they’re gonna do that. I think we played as the better team tonight but in those crunch moments, they definitely pulled out exactly what it is to be a Senior, be an upperclassmen...that’s where we lost it today, just experience down the stretch in those moments...”
When you had the lead [48-47], what could you have done to maintain the lead?
“Smarter plays. They did an excellent job in their half-court trap; that seemed to frazzle us a little bit. When we fought back in to the game, settling down and letting the ball find who is gonna score is our go-to and we just didn’t do that; we struggled to stick with the things that worked for us...they(Baystate) closed the game out like a good team does.”
🔴Baystate HC Dion Byrd & “1K” Travis Jordan⚪️
Its a historical day, you scored 1,000 points. How does it feel?
("1K" Travis Jordan)
“It feels good to be the first at Baystate to score 1,000 points; its a big accomplishment for the school.”
Coach Byrd, when you saw Jordan make the layup for the ‘1K’, how did it make you feel?
It felt great. It’s a big accomplishment for him, his family, the school. So many people had to sacrifice for him to get that. So it was a celebration for everyone once he got it. To get the win on top was even better.
You knew you were coming up on the ‘1K’, how did you feel when you stepped on the court today?
“I’m not gonna lie - last night I was thinking about it a lot. I had a long sleep. I came in the game confident I was gonna hit it, so, it happened!
Coach, what were you guys not doing in the 1st half that led to their easy shots in the paint?
“Everything. I told the kids last night in practice, the night before last, ‘I’m not liking how we play defense at all’. Our program, we put up a lot of points but our staple is how we play defense and we not playing defense at all right now; we’re gonna get back to that. I know its a short season, things are different but it doesn’t stop who we are as a program. We have to get better on the defensive side of the ball.”
One last question for you Travis. When you are out there and things are breaking down, what do you do as leader to get your team to the victory?
“One thing I like to do is dap all my teammates up and tell them, ‘We got this’. And once one person starts being confident, the whole team starts being confident”.