MONTOUR — With his underdog Shale Attorneys nursing an 11-point lead nearing halftime of the Pittsburgh Pro-Am final Wednesday night, Duquesne guard Rene Castro was simply wasting time. He held onto the ball for nearly a full minute, to the chagrin of visibly irritated System One guard James Robinson, and then Castro made his move. He just couldn't help himself.
Castro let a step-back 3-pointer fly, was fouled by Robinson and watched the ball sail through the net. He completed the four-point play and entered halftime with 32 points and a 66-53 lead.
And then things went south.
Castro scored a Pro-Am record 56 points on 21-of-33 shooting, including 7-of-15 from 3-point range, but couldn't quite carry his team to the crown. System One pulled away down the stretch to win, 115-109.
"I was on fire the first half, but in the second half I cooled off," Castro said afterward. "It was just a lucky game."
Fifty-six lucky points?
Fellow guard Jordan Stevens barged in and hollered, "Rene is awesome, man!"
Castro transferred to Duquesne in April after playing a partial season at Butler, where he averaged just 3.3 points and 8.8 minutes per game as a freshman. He'll be forced to sit out the 2014-15 season due to transfer restrictions, but he certainly ended his season with a bang.
"This team needed me to score," Castro said, "but on Duquesne we've got so many scorers. I'm not going to need to do none of that."
And it's true, the odds were heavily stacked against Castro and Shale Attorney, which also features Dukes freshman guard Eric James, who had 15 points in the final. The other bench was stacked with the likes of Pitt big man Mike Young, the Pro-Am MVP, Robinson and Duquesne 3-point machine Micah Mason. Castro carried his squad as far as he could, but that proved to be 20 minutes too short.
For System One, surely a win to write home about?
"No, not really," Mason said with a grin. He scored 21 points on 5-of-10 3-point shooting, one of four System One players to eclipse the 20-point plateau: Young (26), Robinson (22) and Robert Morris freshman Marcquise Reed (21). Gill scored 12 points.
In the end, Mason said, there shouldn't be too much gleaned from summer-league action.
"I don't try to focus my game too much on the Pro-Am, but I had fun here," Mason said. "We got better here as a whole team here and in workouts, in the weight room. Everyone got stronger, especially L.G., who got big. We really got better this summer."
And that Castro kid, well, "he's definitely a scorer," Gill said.
"He's really good," Mason added. "You can tell already that he knows how to play. We're looking forward to him coming in next year ... and especially to having a better practice squad this year, too, with him on the other side along with the new kid Mar'Qywell [Jackson]."