UTICA – It was clear from the start of Sunday afternoon’s King of Kings men’s league championship game that tensions were running high as Eggan Excavating claimed its second title in two years by defeating the Rim Rockers 83-74.
Less than a minute into the game, Eggan Excavating’s Joe Cremo, who will be playing for Villanova University next season, and the Rim Rockers’ Cornelius Vines were each given technical fouls for engaging in a shoving match. Vines immediately received his second technical foul for arguing with the official and was ejected.
The top-seeded Eggan Excavating was led by former College of Saint Rose guard Shai Bromirski’s 22 points and former University of Albany and Coastal Carolina University guard E.J. Gallup’s 21.
“Going undefeated in the regular season has kind of stirred everyone up against us,” Bromirski said. “We are getting everybody’s best shot.”
Bromirski was named Most Valuable Player for the regular season, scoring 23.2 points per game, which was second most behind Gallup’s league-leading 25.6 points per game. Bromirski, however, looked at his MVP honor as a team award.
“It means a lot to me because it means we’ve had success as a group,” Bromirski said. “We just have a bunch of super unselfish guys that play for each other.”
The Rim Rockers’ Mickey Davis had a game-high 28 points, while Ryan Roland chipped in 18 points in the losing effort.
The men’s league all-stars included former Hofstra University guard Vines (Rim Rockers), incoming Syracuse University freshman Buddy Boeheim (Team Eannace), Barneveld native and SUNY Polytechnic Institute star forward Dave Golembiowski (Quadsimia), former Old Westbury guard Jamail Stanley (Underdogs), and former College of Saint Rose forward Devin Grimes (Eggan Excavating).
In the women’s championship game, top-seeded Utica Elite was without two of its leading scorers, but that did not stop it from defeating the Rim Rockers 60-47.
League MVP and leading scorer Tiana Mangakahia, a junior at Syracuse University, was not at Sunday’s title game and neither was incoming Syracuse freshman Emily Engstler.
Frankfort native and Saint Bonaventure University junior Danielle Migliori led the way for Utica Elite with a game-high 26 points. Syracuse University senior Miranda Drummond, who was the league’s fifth leading-scorer, also helped carry the load with 16 points.
“We knew they weren’t going to be here, so we had to mentally prepare,” Drummond said. “I think we did a great job.”
Utica Elite coach and league founder Doneilous King was confident that his team would play well.
“Obviously were missing our two leading scorers,” King said. “We’ve been playing well collectively all summer, so we wanted to keep the energy going.”
Utica Elite held a nine-point lead at half, but that did not satisfy King, whose team opened the second half in a full-court press.
“We like to change the pace and get our girls some energy,” King said. “We believe energy comes from defense, so we wanted to use our athleticism and speed to change the pace.”
That defensive mentality was anchored by the play of the New Hartford High School freshman guard Kaia Henderson. She only scored 11 points but her impact was definitely felt on the defensive side of the ball.
“It’s amazing to watch Kaia’s development,” King said. “It’s great to see a player like her, with the confidence and the skill to play with division I and division II girls because you know that she is going to play at that level soon.”
Former MVCC and SUNY Polytechnic Institute guard Stevie Ray led the way for the Rim Rockers with 16 points, while Lyteshia Price and CeCe James each chipped in 10 points.
The women’s league all-stars included Ray (Rim Rockers), Engstler (Utica Elite), Drummond (Utica Elite) and former West Virginia State University forward Jasmine Davis (WBDT).