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May 17, 2008

Shooting Stars head to the iS8/Nike Semis

It took the #1 seed in the 2008 iS8/Nike Spring High School Classic a little longer to get out of the semifinals than most expected, but once the Shooting Stars did so, they left little doubt as to who should be the favorite in Sunday's title game.

Behind 28 points from Louisville-bound forward Samardo Samuels, the Shooting Stars pulled away from #6 seed NY Elite in the second half to advance with a 104-85 victory.

NY Elite did a good job to hang with the Shooting Stars - who were playing without Devin Ebanks and Ed Davis, both graduating on Saturday - early, matching buckets until 12-12. Samuels then scored ten points during a 12-3 Shooting Stars run to give the defending champions a 24-15 lead.

NY Elite managed to trim the lead to seven, 28-21, at the end of a quarter, but the Shooting Stars opened the second period on a 7-0 run to regain command. A lay-up by Paul Bilbo eventually cut the Shooting Star advantage to 43-32, but Tyshawn Taylor answered with a three on the other end, and the Shooting Stars led 52-36 at the break.

The Shooting Stars took what was then their biggest lead of the game at 66-46 on a three-pointer by Mookie Jones, but NY Elite wouldn't quite concede the game yet, going on a 15-5 run to make it 71-61 Shooting Stars.

A bucket by Dwan McMillan, however, put the Shooting Stars back up 78-63, and after a pair of free throws by St. Dominic's P.J. Walters for NY Elite, Erving Walker nailed a near half-court shot as the third quarter clock expired.

Down 81-65 heading into the fourth, the NY Elite looked to make one more push, and after drawing Samuels' fourth foul, they eventually trimmed their deficit to 81-71. But three straight fast break field goals would put the Shooting Stars ahead 16 once again, and NY Elite wouldn't draw closer than a dozen behind from then on.

Aside from the 28 from Samuels, last year's tournament champs got 21 points from Florida-bound Walker and 20 from Kansas commit Taylor. Pennsylvania signee Zack Rosen led NY Elite with 24 points, while Samuels' St. Benedict's teammate Scott Machado put up 22.

The Shooting Stars will face the Playaz Club Seniors on Sunday afternoon at noon in the iS8 final, a rematch of last year's championship game. Ebanks and Davis are expected to be back in action for the Shooting Stars on Sunday.

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