|New Birth Warriors-MLK Holiday Tournament Champions|
My have things changed in one year. About this time last season, I watched an over matched New Birth Warriors team get hammered by an extremely talented Dayton Airman squad in the 5th grade division of the 2011 Dayton Airmen MLK Holiday Tournament in Dayton. However, this year the roles were reversed, as Scott Bradley’s Warrior squad completely out classed an inferior Airman team in the same tournament. No disrespect to the Airmen, as they have some nice pieces, they play hard and can beat most teams; the problem is, the Warriors aren’t most teams. Last year, although Bradley's team was talented, they were young, consequently, they took their lumps. Fast forward to this year; the Warriors are seasoned and deep, consequently, they are giving out lumps!
|Paul "PJ" Jones|
Right from the tip yesterday in the 6th grade championship game, the Warriors’ up-tempo play, defensive pressure and precision passing resulted in a quick 7-0 lead. By the end of the first quarter, and behind the hot shooting Paul “PJ” Jones (3 treys), New Birth enjoyed a sizable 23-9 lead. It’s important to note that due to the slippery conditions of the court, the Airmen’s top player, Antown Johnson, went down with what initially appeared to be a serious leg injury. In addition, New Birth’s Jordan Mitchell suffered a leg injury as well, and was forced to the bench for the remainder of the first quarter.
|Antwon Johnson-23 pts in Championship|
In a pure Willis Reed fashion, Johnson was the first player to return to action, and would do his best to keep his team in contention. However, despite his heroic 23 point effort ( the kid had a monster game shooting and in the paint), and the fact that Dayton was able to cut the lead to within 10 points (32-22) by halftime, the Airmen could not withstand New Birth’s constant pressure and resulting easy buckets. In fact, you could see the Airmen players hit the proverbial wall midway through the third quarter, as the Warriors cruised to an impressive 72-41 victory.
|Jorden Mitchell-5'9 5th Grader|
Although Antown Johnson was almost a one man show (Deshawn Parker did some good things at the point), New Birth’s production was more balanced, as three players finished with double digit scoring. Although the Warriors’ squad is loaded with talented, the player with the most upside potential is clearly Jordan Mitchell, a 5’9 swing man from Columbus who has great size and a nice skill set. Since I last saw him play, Mitchell has refined his shot to the point that he can consistently knock down the 3 ball. With his size and length, Mitchell can play multiple positions, both inside and on the perimeter. In addition, Mitchell moves well without the ball and his vision and passing skills are excellent. In conclusion, I know he is only a 5th grader, but it is already quite evident that this kid has the kind of “special” qualities that high major coaches will covet.
|Seth Goodson-5'6 SG Gahanna|
As I mentioned, New Birth has number of quality players including Paul “PJ” Jones, arguably the team’s best shooter. Jones finished with 4 treys and 16 points in the championship game. I also had my first good look at Seth Goodson, a 5’6 SG from Gahanna, and I liked what I saw! Goodson is a sturdy and rugged guard who excels at slashing to the cup and finishing. Goodson finished with a team-high 19 points. Tony Stiab and the Gahanna Lincoln Golden Lions could be getting a good one in a few years! I have to mention the man at the point, Ty Wiley, a 4’9 floor general from Columbus (7 points), and Jeremiah Frances, a 5th grader from Columbus, both of whom are starters and big contributors to the team. Congratulations to Coach Bradley and his players and fans for their impressive display of fundamental and team-oriented basketball this past weekend. It was a joy to watch!!
|Dayton Airmen- 5th Grade Champions|
Congratulations are also extended to Coach Moore and his 5th grade Dayton Airmen squad for their hard-fought 38-37 victory over the Dayton Swish in the 5th grade championship game. Although the Airmen never trailed in the game, it was close all the way until the clock showed zeros. Standouts in that game included the MVP, Kendall Moore, a lighting quick point guard who finished with 11 points, Brain Johnson, Dakarai Maybry, Robert Oliver, Kadar Gardner, Samuel Anderson, Martell Smith and Byron Lanier.
|Kendall Moore-Dynamic 5th Grade PG|