695HOOPS WHERE IT'S ALWAYS ALL ABOUT THE GIRLS
The Craig Cromwell Summer League wrapped up it's 30th season on Thursday night at the Madison Square Recreation Center's outdoor court, which is also known as the "Dome". The Cromwell league was started in 1984 by long time St. Frances boys coach William Wells. Craig Cromwell was one of his players and he was murdered on the streets of Baltimore while on his way home from practice.
Each year the league is sponsored by John Hopkins Medicine and is home to 12 boys teams and 6 girls teams. The girls teams for this summer were City, Institute of Notre Dame, Dunbar, St. Frances, Western and Milford Mill. The top 4 teams from the regular season squared off on Thursday evening under the Dome. The weather was perfect for a bunch of Baltimore area girls basketball junkies to hang out and watch the league's final four. City, Western, St. Frances and Institute of Notre Dame were the teams that survived and advanced to the championship pool.
Overall, the level of play was uneven at best. This is what happens when you have rosters made up of junior varsity players trying to make the move up, transfers trying to fit in with their new teams, incoming freshmen trying to earn a spot, and some skilled varsity players. I kept telling myself it's only summer league.
The first matchup of the evening was the Knights of City against the Western Doves. The Doves staked out a 5-3 lead after one quarter and took a 12-8 lead into the half. It's only summer league. The lead swelled to 19-8 after three quarters and I called the game at that point. Western was much more active and and scrappy and that was the difference in a game like this. Kyaja Williams, a 5'9" wing, outworked City's bigger front line the entire game and that proved to be difference in a 22-10 win for Western. It's only summer league.
The second semi-final matchup saw IND trying to keep pace with St. Frances and their retooled roster. The Panthers have picked up some transfers that will rejuvenate their program, and one stellar freshman point guard they can build around in Nia Clouden.The Indians of IND have some promising freshman as well, but they were not up to the task of handling the St. Frances press. A 16-3 halftime lead proved to be insurmountable as the Panthers cruised, 35 to10.
After a 25 minute intermission Western and St. Frances tipped off for the championship. This was the most well played and intense game of the night, as you would expect. Western has a bit of an attitude problem and I like it. They play hard and with intensity on both ends, and if you are not pepared to match it they will wear you down. The first quarter was nip and tuck as the teams felt each other out. Western took a 9-7 lead after the first quarter.
St. Frances stepped it up early in the second quarter behind some good work by Shawnkia Mccallum and Ty Smith. Western was holding onto a 17 to 12 lead with 30.7 seconds left in the half when a skirmish broke out near the Western bench. The referees decided to eject both players, one of which was Ty Smith. No punches were thrown so it seemed to be a bit harsh. Scoring was limited for various reasons in the 3rd quarter, but Ilysia Lewis' hustle plays help keep St. Frances close. It was 18 to 16 after 3 and we were set up for a nice finish.
Incoming freshman Jasmen Walton played like she wanted to prove a point. She attacked on offense and set the tone defensively. With point guard Cache Waters, also a freshman, handling the St. Frances pressure the Doves were able to maintain a small lead throughout the quarter. Close out free throws by Waters and Walton kept the Panthers at bay and the Doves celebrated with a 34 to 28 win.
Kyaja Williams, 2016. 5'9"
Ms. Williams is a warrior. She is athletic and uses that to frustrated bigger players. She is what you would call a "glue" player as she does a lot of the necesary dirty work during a game.
Western coach Tasha Townsend with her two freshman, Cache Waters and Jasmen "Slick" Walton.
UNOFFICIAL CRAIG CROMWELL ALL PLAYOFF TEAM
JA'LYN ARMSTRONG, IND
NIA CLOUDEN, ST. FRANCES
CACHE WATERS, WESTERN
JASMEN WALTON, WESTERN
KYAJA WILLIAMS, WESTERN
SHAWNKIA MCCALLUM, ST. FRANCES
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