The Buckeye State will have 2 representatives in Championship Bracket play at the 7th Grade AAU Nationals in Memphis, Tennessee. Both the Cincinnati Lakers and the Elite Cavaliers will play their first round bracket games today. Unfortunately, the two teams could matchup tonight at 6:20pm if the Elite Cavilers get by their first round opponent, the Arkansas Hawks.
The Lakers received a first round bye after finishing 3-0 in pool play. On their way to bracket play, the Lakers defeated Georgia’s Atlanta Express 61-41 on Monday, held on to defeat The View (Arkansas) 53-51 on Tuesday, and spanked the Hoopdogs Basketball Association 63-42 on Wednesday. I had a chance to talk with Charles Riggins, the Lakers’ head coach, and he indicated that his son Ashon feeling a little under the weather, so Roderick Caldwell and Jeremy Larkin were doing the heavy lifting so far with for the team. Caldwell dropped 17 points in the first game, while Larkin is backing him up with toughness, pressure defense and scrap points. When asked about the possible showdown with the Elite Cavaliers, Riggins indicated, “I was hoping not to see them ,but it will add extra motivation to my team.” For the record, the Lakers enjoy a 6-1 record against the Elite Cavaliers, including to wins over their crosstown rivals this year. When asked about his team’s chances to advance deep in the tournament, Riggens thought he had a good chance to make the Final Four if, “Ashon (Riggins), John (Bubenhoffer) and Damien can get things rolling.” It sounds like North Carolina’s CB Spiders are the team to beat in the quarterfinals on Friday.
The Elite Cavilers’ (2-1) path to bracket play included a 70-53 win over the Alabama Fire; a 57-36 beat down of the Dallas Mustangs, and a tough 55-51 loss to the Charleston Cavaliers Blue. According to Coach Leon Ellis, their loss in pool play can be attributed to the fact they had to “bench a couple of bigs,” resulting in them having “to play small ball.” Also, the Cavilers have to incorporate two newly acquired bigs to the lineup, as they picked up Kameron Moore, 6’3 center from Mt Airy and Kobe Brown, a 6’0 swingman to play with them at the nationals. From what I understand, Jarron Cumberland is having a monster tournament so far, after scoring 28, 24 and 20 points, respectively in the first 3 games. When asked about his first round opponent, Ellis indicated “We will be fine. They have nice size and guard play, but they may struggle with our pressure.” Of course I had to ask him about his thoughts on another match up with the Cavaliers. "It’s going to be another great game, and whoever is playing well in the fourth quarter will win,” said Ellis.
The two other Ohio based teams, Dayton Salvation Army and the Cincinnati Bulldogs, both finished 1-2, and will begin play in the consolation bracket today. The Bulldogs will face off against the Hoopdogs Basketball Association at 11:40, while Dayton Salvation Army will face the winner of United Celtics versus Memphis Hoyas game at 2:00pm today. Both teams could face off in the 3rd round Friday at 2:00pm.
The Division II AAU Nationals are also being held in Memphis, and four teams are repping Ohio. The Ohio Players are 3-0 and will hookup with Texas Suns Select tonight at 6:20pm. The Ohio Hoopsters-Rockets are 2-1 and will face the North Carolina Hustle this morning. Columbus’ Team Court Vision will match up with the Memphis Red Hawks this morning. Finally, the Cincinnati All-Stars are 1-2 and will play the winner of the Georgia F.L.I.T.E versus Memphis Connection game in Classic Brackett play Friday at 1:00pm.
Stay tuned to Buckeye Prep as we try to keep you updated with the AAU Nationals results.