If you had never been to an Adonai Hood Classic before, University of Louisville point guard Peyton Siva’s performance in Franklin’s 102-99 loss to Garfield in the tournament opener was a good introduction.
Star Garfield alumni Will Conroy (University of Washington ’05) and Tre Simmons (Washington ’05) joined Siva in returning to a hot high school gym in Seattle from various places around the world to play for little more than school pride. That Franklin played the game with only five players only added to the drama of the game and made the game well worth the time and sweat.
The undermanned Franklin squad opened the fourth quarter with a 2 point lead and showing a 2-3 zone, possibly a sign of fatigue from a program normally known for it’s aggressive pressure defense after an intense third quarter. Garfield began the second half down 5 points but in the third quarter, Conroy just stepped it up a notch.
Conroy was relentless in the third period, seemingly going directly to the basket every time he touched the ball. Whereas Garfield had a difficult time stopping Siva from getting in position to set up others in the first half, Franklin had no answer for stopping Conroy from getting to the basket in the third. The contrast in styles between the two guards created a growing tension that could be felt throughout the gym as Franklin looked to upset the host team.
However, the excitement of the fourth quarter was not necessarily defined by stars stepping up, but by both teams surviving lapses in the waning minutes of the game. With the game tied at 95 with 2:38 left, Garfield made turnovers on consecutive possessions, the second by Simmons in the paint. Franklin returned the favor by missing two free throws on the other end before Conroy missed an alley oop layup and put back attempt on the next possession with his team down two points.
Yet while everybody in the gym expected the ball to go to Siva with the game on the line, Franklin used him as a decoy while he was blanketed by the Garfield defense. Instead they went to Alvin Snow (Eastern Washington ’04) who had been the recipient of a number of passes for three pointers from Siva. That proved to be the difference as Franklin came up empty on their next possession and then after Marcelus Kemp (Nevada ’08) hit a three to put Garfield up 1, Snow turned the ball over after being trapped by Garfield defenders. Conroy got the ball ahead of the defense to seal the game with a breakaway layup as time expired.
Nevertheless, the story of this game was still Siva’s performance. In contrast to the aggression and power of Conroy’s performance in the third, Siva was patient and smooth in everything he did no matter what Garfield threw at him. On an afternoon in which Siva seemingly got wherever he wanted on the court to set up others with a variety of basic bounce passes, misdirections, behind the back and wrap-around passes, his most impressive might have been the subtlest. Late in the third quarter, Siva found himself tripled in the backcourt along the right sideline. He effortlessly stopped on a dime to freeze the defender directly in front of him to open up a passing lane to Jason Robbins on the opposite sideline, which led to another cross-court pass and a fast break layup.
Yeah, it’s only a charity tournament against fringe NBA talent, but Siva clearly demonstrated the difference between a D1 talent and great high school players. The calm and patience with which Siva picked apart Garfield’s defense in nearly leading a five-man squad to victory was quite remarkable, even if you might have come to the game expecting such an outcome. What makes the tournament in general and Siva’s performance in particular so special is that a guy who regularly plays in front of 16,000+ fans across the country came back to his hometown to put his skills on display, sign autographs, and stop by the bleachers to say hello to friends.
In a world in which we seem to be getting more distant from even homegrown NBA athletes, the Hood Classic can be a refreshing experience.