Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
Take Your Game to Another Level (TYGTAL) withstood a barrage of second-half 3-pointers by The Champs, holding on for a 67-62 victory and the 2012 Delco Pro-Am title.
Tournament MVP Mark Tyndale had 21 points in the win, including the final six points, to help overcome a six-point deficit with under four minutes to play. The Champs hit eight 3-pointers in the second half alone, but TYGTAL wasn’t about to let their third-straight championship game appearance slip away without a title to show for their efforts.
“I wasn’t trying to be the Buffalo Bills,” said Tyndale, referencing the early-90s NFL franchise that lost four consecutive Super Bowls. “I was just happy that we got this win.”
Tyndale had a key steal with 1:10 left, picking former Villanova star Alvin Williams’ pockets and cruising in for an uncontested layup and a 65-62 lead. He would later tack on two free throws for the final margin and the last of his 20 points.
“It feels real good to have a group of guys that come in and are able to get paid to play, but they will give you everything that they have,” TYGTAL coach Rick Myers said about working with a roster stocked with professional talent. “It’s a pleasure to work with them, because you tell them something and they recognize it, and that just makes it that much easier to coach them.”
TYGTAL was led by their Owl-centric trio of Tyndale, Dionte Christmas (15 points) and Mardy Collins, who scored a combined 86.6 percent (58-of-67) of their team’s total points.
“Working out and playing at Temple together, and playing every summer together, I think our bond is great together,” said Tyndale, who starred at the school from 2004-08.
“We’ve been playing together since Temple–the last eight years, nine years,” Christmas said. “Every year we’re getting better and every year we’re gonna keep winning championships until it’s over.”
It was Collins, the oldest of the three, who carried the team for a point near the end of the first half, scoring the final nine points of his team in a 31-31 game after the opening 20 minutes. Tyndale then broke it open with six straight during a 10-0 run to start the second half, giving TYGTAL the largest lead by either team up to that point, but The Champs responded with the long ball.
Williams, now the Director of Basketball Operations for the Toronto Raptors, hit three 3-pointers in a five-minute span, tying it up at 43-43 with 12 minutes to play.
It was another Williams trey that gave The Champs the lead at 57-56, another Williams longball made it 62-56 with 3:08 left but The Champs wouldn’t score again.
Williams finished with 24 points, hitting seven 3-pointers, to lead all scorers. Turk Mott added 21 points, including a trio of 3-pointers after halftime, while Sean Colson scored 14 for the losing side.
“Turk Mott, he’s a beast down there,” Christmas said, though he couldn’t resist a little jab at one of the Pro-Am’s best players. “Probably one of the best bigs in the city–and he’s like 40.”
Despite a noticeable age discrepancy–many of the members on The Champs are pushing 40–it wasn’t until the end of the game that the youth of TYGTAL finally won over.
“You got Alvin Williams out there hitting eight 3s and Malik Rose out-working our bigs,” said Christmas, who graduated from Temple in 2009 and just signed a partially-guaranteed contract with the Boston Celtics. “Every time the young guys get together, those guys are in the gym with us, playing with us, and they look just as good as us.”