East Side masters the fundamentals to upset No. 15 Arts for Newark Holiday crown

Newark East Side’s game plan was so brilliantly basic against a significantly taller Arts team, the Red Raiders’ concise, unclouded focus could have been pulled from the pages of a Dr. Seuss book.

We controlled the glass, made that extra pass, never let our ‘D’ run out of gas

Or for a slightly more elaborate explanation from someone who actually helped orchestrate this upset story, we present East Side senior guard Sutan Fitzpatrick.

“We had to rebound hard, crash on the boards and lock in on defense for the entire game. And we did that,” he said.

Just 13 days removed from a nine-point loss to Arts, East Side controlled the tempo from start to finish and limited its opponents access to the offensive boards en route to a 48-37 upset over the 15th-ranked Jaguars in the championship of the Newark Public Schools Holiday Tournament Friday afternoon at Weequahic’s Ronald G. Stone Gymnasium in Newark.

Junior point guard Amir Abdullah scored a game-high 16 points, collected six rebounds and directed the Red Raiders’ tightly woven offense with poise to send East Side (6-2) to its first holiday crown since 2019.

Sophomore forward David Ekhelar scored 10 points and had seven rebounds, senior forward Quatrell Wilson collected nine points and nine rebounds, and Fitzpatrick added eight points and eight rebounds to help their club avenge that 55-46 loss to Arts Dec. 17. East Side led in that first half, but crumbled in the second by essentially doing all the bad things it was able to avoid this second time against Arts (6-2).

Senior guard Spencer Joyner led the way for Arts with 15 points, followed by junior forward Savod Godwin with nine points and seven rebounds. But those boards were hard to come by against the paint-swarming Raiders, who established a 32-25 advantage on the glass.

“We just had to get. a body on them. Once we bodied up on them, we just crashed as a team. We had to play together and we did,” Abdullah said.

As a result of that community effort in the paint, Arts was limited to three putbacks for the entire game, and did not record its first until the third quarter. The Jaguars shot only 5 of 20 in that opening half as East Side forged a 24-13 lead.

“The basic game plan was to be patient offensively and make them score on our defense,” East Side co-head coach Anthony Tavares said. “On the last game with them, we just didn’t do a good job of being patient; we tried to get it all back in one shot. We took bad shots and that led to their points.”

East Side was slightly erratic in the opening quarter Friday, hitting just 3 of 12 from the floor, but quickly resolved that between twelve periods. Fitpatrick scored on a floater 1:35 into the second quarter to trigger a 13-2 run that put the Raiders in front, 24-11. They were 6 of 9 in the second, with Ekhelar leading the way with six points.

There were also four assists preceding those six baskets, and that was another key difference between the two teams in this final. The Raiders compiled 11 assists for the game, Arts only three.

2022 All-Tournament Team

East Side: Amir Abdullah; Sutan Fitzpatrick. Arts: Faquir Mosley; Elijon Nix. Barringer: Roberto Ferriera. Central: Hazir Lee. Eagle: Tae’Jean Wilson. University: Darrell Barrow. Shabazz: Eugene Crossland. West Side: Brandon Rodriguez.

(Check back soon for more details)

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Mike Kinney can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeKinney

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