By Laura Amato
They’re still perfect.
Overseas Elite — whose roster includes former St. John’s stars DJ Kennedy, Paris Horne and Justin Burrell — defeated Team Challenge ALS 86-83 in the championship game of The Basketball Tournament at Coppin State University. It was the third straight title for the squad, which also captured the Aug. 3 tournament’s $2 million prize.
“From Round 1 to now, it felt like a dog fight,” Overseas Elite head coach Colin Curtin said. “I don’t know what more we have to accomplish. We have everything to lose now. It gets to the point where ALS is building a team to mirror us. South Florida (Tampa Bulls) is building a team to mirror us. We took everyone’s best shot.”
Kennedy, Horne and Burrell all suited up for the Red Storm from 2007-2011, leading St. John’s to an NCAA Tournament appearance in their final season with the squad. Horne and Burrell also knew each other before they arrived in Queens, competing together at Bridgton Academy.
That camaraderie helped lead Overseas Elite to another championship run this summer, despite a handful of obstacles along the way. It wasn’t an easy repeat for the team, although expectations were high coming into the tournament with a No. 1 seed out of the South Region.
“What’s great about these guys is they’re comfortable being uncomfortable,” Curtin said. “When you have guys who are comfortable being uncomfortable, no lead is safe.”
In fact, Overseas Elite just held on in the championship game, as Team Challenge ALS forward Sean Marshall missed a free throw with three seconds remaining that would have tied the game.
It was a dramatic victory for Overseas Elite and a devastating loss for Team Challenge ALS, but Kennedy made sure both sides got a happy ending after the final buzzer went off.
“We’ve got a lot of respect for them,” he said. “We told them, we’re still going to give money to the ALS foundation, no matter what happened and regardless of if we won. We were happy we were able to win, but they gave it all they got.”
Kennedy overcame a slow start to finish with 18 points, going 7-of-10 from the floor, while Burrell chipped in eight points and Horne added three.
Kyle Fogg, who played his college ball at Arizona, led the offensive charge for Overseas Elite, racking up a game-high 29 points, including 18 in the first half alone. It was more than enough to spark the team to another title.
“If I can just knock down a shot, get a rebound … that gets [my teammates] going,” Fogg said during a postgame press conference. “They can feed off my energy. Once I get going, those guys can start feeding me and getting me open looks.”
Now, Overseas Elite and its St. John’s alums will take a few days to bask in yet another victory. But while championships have become tradition for the squad, the team isn’t willing to rest on its laurels. This year’s win was far from easy and Overseas Elite was challenged at every turn, which made the win all the sweeter.
“I think the first year you can sneak up on some people because they don’t know you. Then the second year we had a bullseye on our back,” Curtin said. “There was no part of this tournament where I thought we might get through this easy.”