The first time Ryan Williams Jr. finished a fast break with a thunderous dunk at Sunday's Alzheimer’s All-Star Basketball Classic, it had spectators at Amityville High School practically falling out of their seats.
The second time the St. John the Baptist swingman did it, it almost ended the game prematurely.
The 6-4 junior actually spun the backboard off its axis on the large steel beam suspension from the roof so that it was no longer on the same plane as the baseline.
It halted the game for approximately 15 minutes as school officials tried to twist it back into position while standing on a ladder. Ultimately they required a second ladder, with one person pushing one side of the backboard from the front and a second person pushing the other side of it from the back to apply enough force to twist it back into place.
"That was special," Williams, whose father played at St. John’s from 2004-06, said of the dunk. "The statement I came to make is that I am one of the top players in New York, in the nation, everywhere. I haven't been noticed a lot, so I'm really just trying to get my name out there."
Williams sat out last season after transferring from Cardozo in Queens to St. John the Baptist in West Islip. He will be on the Cougars this season with Irish newcomer Clinton Efinda, making the team formidable.
The Nassau stars ended up with a thrilling 95-85 win over Suffolk despite Williams’ team-high 19 points. Sewanhaka's Ramren Danhart was the game’s MVP with 16 points and Baldwin's Jacob Oka added 15 points and eight rebounds for Nassau.
In the girls game, Nassau prevailed, 93-63, behind a terrific performance by the likely starting backcourt at Long Island Lutheran this season. UCLA-commit Paris Clark had 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists to earn MVP honors, and Hofstra-commit Emma Von Essen had 17 points.
All event proceeds went to the Long Island Alzheimer’s Dementia Center.
The Classic had a little bit of everything: A good cause, great performances in both the boys and girls games and a savory preview of things to look for in the upcoming high school season.
Half Hollow Hills East looks geared to contend for another Suffolk AA title judging from the performance of point guard Xavier Lewis who finished with 18 points. And Amityville might be strong in Suffolk A with Elijah Canady, who scored 12.
"A game like this has so many guys who will play at the next level so it’s great for getting ready for our season," Lewis said. "I can’t wait for it. We play great defense and we’ll be really deep this season."
Portledge’s Zaire Baines, who is 465 points shy of Long Island's all-time scoring record of 2,799, added 11 points and four assists and clinched the Nassau boys win with seven points in the final two minutes.
One of the revelations from the girls game was Olivia Jones, an eighth-grader expected to start this season for Brentwood. She scored 13 points, drew some of the biggest ovations from the crowd and said after the game, "I’m ready — people saw today I can compete against Division I talent."
For Clark and Von Essen, it's as if the upcoming season is two years in the making because the coronavirus pandemic limited them to a handful of what they termed "scrimmages." They have their eyes on LuHi earning nothing less than a state Federation title.
"We showed everybody what to expect from us this season," Clark said. "We've been together [in the backcourt] for three years now and there’s a real connection. [Von Essen] always puts the ball where you need it."
"[Clark] is incredible," Von Essen said. "She’s never dropped one of my passes, she runs with you and she’s an amazing talent."
After scoring 14 points for the Suffolk stars, Longwood's Taydra Simpson said, "It’s time we get on the map."
She was so active and athletic during the game, map-makers might struggle to keep up.