Moton earns MVP honors as Judges claim third N.E. Big Four Challenge in four years

Moton earns MVP honors as Judges claim third N.E. Big Four Challenge in four years
The Brandeis men are presented the Crotty Trophy. Named for Middlesex Magic AAU founder Michael Crotty, Sr., it was presented by his son, Michael, Jr., and grandson, Stephen Benevento Jr.

WALTHAM, Mass. – Brandeis men's basketball junior guard Gabriel Moton (St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Petersburg) had 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists today to lead the Judges past Salem State University, 78-61, in the finals of the New England Big Four Challenge today. With the win, Brandeis (3-1) wins the Crotty Cup, named after after Middlesex Magic AAU founder Mike Crotty, Sr., for the third time in four years.

Moton, a transfer from Boston College, averaged 23.5 points, nine rebounds and five assists per game in the tournament. In today's championship match, he guided Brandeis to a 41-35 halftime lead with 11 points, five boards, three assists and two steals in the first 20 minutes. The Judges led by as many as nine points in the first stanza, but were never able to pull away as Salem State's Andrew White (Medford, Mass./Medford) kept the Vikings in the game with 13 points in the frame.

SSU (2-3) opened the second half on an 6-2 run, closing to within 43-41 after back-to-back hoops by Tavone Wynder (Boston, Mass./Newton South). Brandeis answered with a Derek Retos (No. Attleboro, Mass./Brimmer and May School) trifecta and a Moton jumper to push the lead back to seven at 48-41. The score never got closer than a two-possession game after that, with Brandeis's final 17-point margin of victory the largest lead of the game.

In addition to Moton, two other Brandeis starters scored in double figures. Junior forward Ben Bartoldus (Hillsborough, N.H./Proctor Acad.) finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, while classmate Youri Dascy (Fall River, Mass./St. Andrews School, R.I.) had 10 points. Junior forward Alex Stoyle (Goffstown, N.H./Tilton School) had nine points and led all players with nine rebounds, helping the Judges to a 52-37 rebounding advantage over the Vikings, who were plus-10 on the glass in the semifinals. The Judges also turned 15 SSU turnovers into 17 points, while minimizing their 11 miscues to just seven points-off-turnovers.

Salem State was led by White's 18 points and 15 from Wynder. Five different Viking players finished with five rebounds, including White, Wynder and senior Nate Simpson (Lowell, Mass./Lowell), who also led the squad with three assists. The Vikings shot just 36.4% from the field for the game (24-66), including 32.4% (11-34) in the second half.

In the day's earlier consolation game, Tufts (3-2) used a balanced attack to put away Babson, 83-58. Five different Jumbo players scored in double figures in the win, led by 13 off the bench from Stephen Haladnya (Hamilton, Mass./St. Johns Prep). Junior guard Kwame Firempong (Inglewood, Calif./Winward School) added 12 points, Timothy Folliard (Richmond, Va./Phillips Exeter) and Oliver Cohen (Penn Valley, Pa./Lower Merion) had 11 each and Matt Lanchantin (Natick, Mass./Brooks School) had 10. Senior center Scott Anderson (Sudbury, Mass./Middlesex School) had a game-high 10 rebounds and matched Firempong for team-high honors with three assists. Babson's (2-3) Matt Palazini (Franklin, Mass./Franklin) led the Beavers with a game-high 16 points, while sophomore forward John Wickey (Manchester, N.H./Manchester Central) had 13 points and six boards. Tufts won the rebounding battle, 51-29, helping to offset a 16-7 edge in the turnover department in favor of the Beavers.

In addition to tournament MVP Moton, the All-Tournament team consisted of John Wickey of Babson; Scott Anderson of Tufts; Andrew White of Salem State; and Alex Stoyle of Brandeis.