Though most of Madison Square Garden’s first round match-ups went as expected, there were some very close contests and one surprising upset. Let’s go to the videotape!
The region’s shocking upset came in dramatic fashion as the mid-major 11th seeded, Laguna Seca 94, made a late run and upended the heavy-hitting version of Blossom 15 by a single vote. Blossom had an open look to win it at the buzzer, but the ball rolled around the rim and fell out of cylinder. Nobody saw this one coming, and many thought Blossom was a real contender to reach the Sweet 16. But its season ended prematurely, and the strong version will pack its bag and head back to Cleveland to ponder what could have been.
The seven seed, Hartford 13, and the tenth seed, Nassau 99, engaged in a hotly-contested, see-saw battle that saw several lead changes throughout. Hartford saw a narrow lead evaporate over the final two minutes of the game, but hit a desperation three-pointer at the horn defeating the dark-horse 99 rendition in crushing fashion by only a single vote.
Jones Beach 95, the regions second seed, ran out to a large lead only to become complacent and allow number 15, Cincy 98, to stage a furious comeback that ultimately fell short. The game was even closer than the final margin of eight votes would suggest, as Jones Beach tacked on some free throws off of intentional fouls by Cincy as they looked to extend the contest.
Third-seeded Bomb Factory easily defeated MSG in a contest of 1994 juggernauts, while Lakewood 15, the region’s four seed, drubbed Big Cypress in a match-up that was never close. Camden 99 and Gorge 97 went back and forth for much of the game before fifth seeded, Camden, strung together some late buckets and won by a comfortable margin of seven votes.
The always exciting eight versus nine game lived up to the hype, as Vancouver 99 and Gainesville 95 exchanged blows in a battle of vastly different musical eras. Vancouver jumped out to an early lead before Gainesville mucked up the game with strong grand piano chords, playing lock down defense and scoring just enough to comfortably put down the favored Canadian version by seven.
In the final MSG first round game, top seed Auburn Hill ’97 bludgeoned Dayton 95 without resistance.
Thanks to all who voted in the tournament’s first region! Please cast your vote for the Gorge region’s first round games below. I’ve decided to have regions’ first round slate to play for three days—72 hours from the time of posting—rather than four in the interest of moving the tournament along.
Get your headphones out and let’s go!