Byram Hills Outlasts Brewster in Winter Classic Tourney

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Byram Hills freshman guard Skylar Sinon dribbles past midcourt in the championship game of the 2014 Winter Classic on Saturday.
Byram Hills freshman guard Skylar Sinon dribbles past midcourt
in the championship game of the 2014 Winter Classic on Saturday.

By Andy Jacobs
Just in case opponents aren’t aware how precocious Byram Hills shooting guard Skylar Sinon is, the Bobcats’ student cheering section is always eager to remind them.
“He’s a fresshhhhh—man, he’s a fresshhhhh—man,” is the chant of choice by the home fans whenever the Bobcats’ very young sniper scores a basket.
On Saturday evening, Sinon gave his schoolmates plenty of practice. He scored a game-high 19 points and earned Most Valuable Player honors as the Bobcats overcame a late deficit to defeat Brewster 59-53 in the championship game of the 2014 Byram Hills Winter Classic.
“Last year, he got his feet wet,” said Bobcats coach Ted Repa afterwards about Sinon, who made varsity while still in middle school. “Now, when it’s a perimeter situation, he’s our go-to guy. That’s the transition from last year.”
It was a perimeter situation against the visiting Bears because Andrew Groll, the Bobcats’ standout center, was forced to watch the season-opening tournament from the sideline after twisting his ankle last week in a scrimmage. The 6-7 senior figures to wreak havoc and impact games on both ends of the floor once he returns a bit later this month.
“He’s responded really well to treatment,” said Repa. “If this was a sectional game, he could’ve went. But it would’ve been kind of limited, so we’re hoping next week we have him. Without him, we’re a little more perimeter oriented.”
So instead of having to deal with Groll in the paint all evening, Brewster got an early hint of the Bobcats’ future as Sinon scored 13 first-half points to help Byram take a 29-22 lead at intermission. His first bucket of the night, a 15-foot jumper from the right baseline, came a mere five seconds after the Bobcats won the opening tip.
Sophomore Matt Groll provided a good imitation of his older brother by scoring consecutive baskets down low before Sinon connected again, this time on a runner from left of the lane at the end of a fast break. With a minute and a half left in the quarter, Sinon dropped in the first of his three 3-pointers to give Byram Hills a 13-6 lead.
When the Bears closed to within 21-17 midway through the second quarter, it was Sinon who provided another trey from the top of the key. Brewster sliced its deficit to four points again just before halftime, but Sinon drove through the lane for a basket as he was fouled. He added the free throw with 7.6 seconds remaining, giving the Bobcats their seven-point advantage at the half.
A 10-4 spurt by the Bobcats after Brewster’s Jason Jacobus hit a 3-pointer to begin the third quarter gave Byram Hills its largest lead of the evening at 39-29. The run was capped by point guard Ross Weinfeld’s 3-pointer and then his pass to a cutting Mike Sardo for a layup. But Brewster closed the period with a flurry of 3-pointers, four in all, and headed to the fourth quarter trailing just 46-43.
“Yeah, we got caught over-helping a little bit,” conceded Repa. “There were a couple charges that we didn’t get. And when that happens, we’ve got a guy on the ground and its four versus three, so they were able to find openings, and credit to them they hit ‘em. But I think we made some good adjustments in the second half of the fourth quarter.”
The first six points of the final quarter were scored by Brewster’s Tom Trainor and suddenly the Bobcats found themselves behind by three points. Back-to-back baskets by Sinon regained the lead for Byram, and Joe Fromer soon made both ends of a 1-and-1 that gave the Bobcats a 52-49 edge with 4:06 to go.
But the Bears were hardly finished. Consecutive baskets by Sam Adama put Brewster back in front by a point. Their lead disappeared for good, though, when Weinfeld, who later was named to the all-tournament team, made two free throws with 1:45 left on the clock. The Bobcats wound up scoring the game’s final seven points, all from the line. Weinfeld made six of them to keep the Bears at bay.
After his team had finished collecting its championship hardware, Repa had plenty of praise for both Sinon and Weinfeld.
“I think our backcourt is one of the best in Class A,” he said. “I haven’t seen everybody yet and I’m biased, but I think Ross Weinfeld is a great point guard and, as you can see, he makes his free throws down the stretch. And Skylar Sinon, you know, he’s 14 years old and he’s the MVP.”
With the championship of their own tournament in hand again, Repa and the Bobcats can now turn their attention to the imminent return of Andrew Groll and some very big challenges later this month.
“This was a quality win,” said Repa. “Brewster’s a pretty tough team. They’ve got some good size, good athletes. They took the lead in the fourth quarter and we showed some resolve to come back.”

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