The final day of the Ohio AAU State tournament was complete with drama, upsets, plots, sub-plots, and statement games. In terms of upsets, although most central Ohio basketball fans were well aware of the breakthrough season Ohio Varsity White had been having, over the course of the weekend, southern Ohio teams were introduced to Randy Clarkson's collection of hardworking and under-valued journeymen. Although, according to the experts, the team was void of "big time" talent, the central Ohio-based team has consistently beaten more highly touted teams both in the state and nationally the entire spring. In Cincinnati this weekend, All-Ohio Varsity White blew though pool play before reaching the finals, where they received their final stamp of approval as one of the top teams in the state, with their 54-53 win over the Cincinnati Lakers in the semi-finals and their victory over Team Jordan in the championship game. In their grudge match against a well-coached Lakers team in a semi-final game, Ohio Varsity White withstood a feverish late game run from southern Ohio's top team. In fact, the Lakers had a shot under their bucket to win the game, but could not convert as time ran out. Gahanna's Aaron Jackson's 28-point explosion was the catalyst for the win. For the Lakers, Devin Williams, Keith Watkins and Monty Boykins were all standouts in the game. To get to the U-15 championship game, Team Jordan had to get by Quentin Roger's All-Ohio Red team, which boasted some of the top prospects in the state in Marc Loving, Nigel Hayes and newly acquired Tony Farmer. After dispatching the Lakers, Ohio Varsity faced off against a talented Team Jordan squad in the championship game of the U-15 division. Although All-Ohio Varsity White jumped out to and early lead, Team Jordan fought their way back, and tied the game at halftime. In the second half, Team Jordan committed too many unforced turnovers and Ohio Varsity White pulled away for a final 13 point victory. The leading scorers for Ohio Varsity were Jack Gibbs (23 points), and Randall Clarkson Jr., Aaron Jackson and Wendell Davis (all with 13 points). For Team Jordan, both Jaylon Brown and DJ Wingfield scored in double figures.
In semi-finals of the U-16 division, All-Ohio Red easily handled the Dayton Nets 86-53 to advance to the championship game. In the other semi-final game, All-Ohio Purple had to overcome a serious challenge from hometown foe Cincinnati Knights. At the end of the 1st quarter the Knights were up 19-14, and by halftime they had increased the lead by 10 points. However, the second half was a different story, as Purple turned up the heat and forced some turnovers. Add in cold shooting by the Knights and Purple came storming back to get the "W." In the contest, Orlando Berry Jr. and Adolphus Washington were the difference. For the Knights, Gionivoe McKnight, Willie Moore and Ben Galermo led the charge in the loss. The win by Purple set up a 3rd meeting with All-Ohio Red. To be honest with you, after only a few minutes, there was really no drama in this one. Orlando Berry's All-Ohio Purple squad jumped all over Red from the tip and never really looked back. Remember what I said earlier in this story about statement games, well this should be considered one of those, as, judging by the comments from the fans in the stands, Purple was playing with a chip on their shoulders relative where they stood in the state pecking order, as well as their status in the All-Ohio organization. Needless to say, you have to give the nod to the Cincinnati boys as the top dog in the Buckeye State. The combination of Adolphus Washington and Dwayne Stafford in the post and Orlando Berry Jr., Josh Lemons and Jalean Lowe on the perimeter, is simply too much for most teams. The leading scorer in the game was Washington who finished with a game-high 24 points. Tommie Kreyenhagen finished with 20 points, Dwayne Stafford added 12 points and Josh Lemons and Orlando Berry Jr, both contributed 11 points. I have to acknowledge the guard play of Chris Harrison-Docks, Myles Hamilton and Jordan Potts in that game. All three players went down swinging and made some big time plays. Jake Kretser also hit a couple of big trey to give Red a glimmer of hope.
Speaking of Drama, the U-17 division offered just that. All-Ohio Red began championship Sunday with a match-up against a very scrappy Driveway Legends. All-Ohio withstood a barrage of early jump shots and dunks before shaking off a sluggish start and pulling away to claim a convincing 97-75 win. All-Ohio was led by red hot shooting from Trey Burke (32 points) and Kenny Kaminski (28 points). For Driveway, Cody Latimore inflicted the most damage to the tune of 27 points. Shawn Flemming added 17 points while Jordan Watson finished with 13 points. In their second game of the day, All-Ohio Red got by the Cincinnati Royals 69-45 to advance to the championship game. In that game, Stevie Taylor had his shot falling and was able to get to the cup at will to finish with a game-high 20 points. Kenny Kaminski finished with 17 points while Trey Burke added 14 points and Nate Anderson offered 7 points. For a chance to play for a championship, Ozzie Davis' Queen City Prophets (QCP) had to get by XBA in the 1st round, and a tough Club Ohio in the semi finals. They did both, setting up a much anticipated match-up between All-Ohio Red. The Prophets came out smoking from beyond the arc, while also throwing down some rim rattling dunks. Although the QCP sprinted out to an early lead, Red eventually got on track and actually took the lead late in the game. In fact, All-Ohio had the ball with the game tied at 71 with about 10 seconds left in regulation to win the game. Trey Burke penetrated and kicked the ball out to Kenny Kaminski for an uncontested trey, but the shot missed the mark. After the Prophets converted on more possession in the overtime period, they went on to defend their state title from last year. QCP was led by Chillicothe's Jaylen Ragland who was virtually unstoppable from beyond the three point line, resulting in a game-high 34 points. The Prophets also got contributions from Aiken's Aaron Thomas (20 points) and Withrow's Carl Porter. For All-Ohio Red, Northland's Trey Burke remained hot and finished with a team-high 28 points, followed by Kenny Kaminski's 23 points, while Stevie Taylor and Jeff Copeland both added 12 points. If you missed this game, you missed a good one, as both teams refused to loose and hit consecutive shots down the stretch. With their win, Queen City has earned the #1 seed at the AAU Nationals in July. To see more pictures of the event, visit the Buckeye Prep Facebook Fan Page.