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Stepinac beats Woodlands in Slam Dunk Challenge [in the News]

Posted Friday, December 29, 2006 by www.lohud.com
Stepinac bounces back to win the third place game at Tourney over Woodlands tonight 77-59!!!


Bolding lifts Stepinac past Woodlands
By Alex Myers
The Journal New

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(Original publication: December 30, 2006)

WHITE PLAINS - For three straight days, he tantalized the crowd at the Westchester County Center with flashes of brilliance. Those glimpses providing a visual snack for those in attendance, but still, they seemed left wanting more.

Such is the life for major Division I prospect Melquan Bolding of Stepinac, who is so dazzling at times that a layup instead of a dunk can draw a collective disappointed groan from his spectators. Blessed with a tremendous basketball talent, he is perhaps cursed by even larger expectations. But he's not letting it bother him.

Yesterday, Bolding was able to both please his fans, while also emerging victorious. The junior had 28 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Crusaders to a 77-59 win over Woodlands in the third-place game of the Slam Dunk Tournament.

Bolding finished the event having amassed 63 points and 34 rebounds. While those numbers aren't the off the charts, more importantly, Stepinac (6-2) won two of its three games.

"I think when you're one of the best players like Melquan, Michael Coburn (Mount Vernon) or Mookie Jones (Peekskill), the expectations are always higher," Stepinac coach Tim Philp said.

Larry Grant led Woodlands (5-4) with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Taj Everly had 12 points and D'Andre Vandiver added nine for the Falcons, who held their own against bigger schools during the three days.

"Playing in this tournament was big because we came out and showed we could play against good teams," said Grant. "It prepares us because (Class) AA teams play at a different speed. Hopefully, that will carry over to the playoffs in Class B."

Stepinac's Tony Taylor had 15 points and five assists to finish his three-day run with a total of 70 points. A missed free throw in the third quarter ended his streak of 19 makes in a row, but the junior still finished an amazing 23 of 24 from the foul line for the tournament.

Meanwhile, Philp was happy with how Bolding got his points.

"Today he didn't force things as much," said Philp. "Mel is at his best when he's patient and he lets the offense come to him."

Rashad Slowley had 10 points and nine rebounds, and Rich Schmidt added eight points for the Crusaders.

The Falcons (5-4) jumped out to a 12-4 lead, but Stepinac responded with a 15-2 run to go in front 19-14. The Crusaders trailed 28-26 at halftime, but a 26-point third quarter gave them a 52-43 lead heading into the final period. Six players scored in the third led by Bolding's eight points and Slowley's six.

"That's really good for us because he's strong and tough," Bolding said of Slowley. "We're undersized, so he can really help us down low."

Stepinac continued its good play by beginning the fourth quarter on a 12-2 run, capped by a Bolding putback that gave the team a 64-45 lead. He would add a breakaway jam that put Stepinac ahead by 23.

Although much was already anticipated from Bolding at the start of the season, committing to the University of Louisville made those expectations soar through the roof.

"Once I did that, Coach (Rick) Pitino and the rest of the coaches told me that I have to really step up and show why they recruited me," Bolding said. "But I like that pressure, it makes me play better."

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