|Case Rankin-6th Grade PG Gahanna|
This weekend is big for basketball in the state, as 3 major events tipped off on Friday. In addition to the DI Ohio AAU State Championship in Cincinnati, the DII state qualifier is being held in Columbus, and Jerry Watson’s All-Ohio Super Showcase jumps off on Saturday. I had a chance to catch some of the AAU DII action last night in Columbus, where a slate of games was being held at the USA Sports Academy.
In one of the opening games, Ed Lyshe’s 6th grade Buckeye Prep squad faced off against Columbus-based OIC Dynasty. By the time I got to the gym, Buckeye Prep had already raced out to a 10-0 lead. Dynasty finally got on the board with 42 seconds left in the first quarter (10-2). Dynasty would only score once in the second period, and Buckeye Prep would enter the half up 17-4. In the second half, Prep would maintain a comfortable lead, and go on to get the 38-21 victory. I’m not sure who the leading scorers where (no individual scores were kept), but Gahanna’s Chase Rankin logged in an impressive performance running the point. In fact, a fan sitting next to me was shocked to hear the Rankin was only a sixth grader, as his skill set and poise were that of an older player.
Needless to say, I was surprised to see the Ohio Hopsters, the second ranked 6th grade team in the state, competing in the DII state qualifier. As you would expect, the Hoopsters crushed their opening round opponent (TUFO) 54-24. In fact, the Hoopsters started their reserves, who build a 17-6 lead by the end of the opening period. When the starters were inserted, the lead ballooned to 33-8 by the end of the first half. TUFO was simply over matched by a much bigger and more talented Ohio Hoopsters. There is really little doubt the Hoopsters will claim the gold medal by the time the horn sounds on Sunday. I spoke with Lamont Tillman at the conclusion of the game and he mentioned the fact that his team will probably be competing in the DII AAU Nationals later in the summer.
I finally got a chance to check out Hill Sports, an 8th grade team based out of Columbus, as they matched up with .Dayton Metro. By half time, Metro was up by 15 points (34-20), and although Hill Sports cut into the lead in the second half, Metro was still able to hold on to claim a 62-53 win. The leading scorer for Metro was Danny Narlor, a 6’4 C from Xenia, who scored a game-high 22 points. I’m not sure what he scored, but I liked Hill Sport’s Tarik Wright, a 6’3 WF from Johnson Park MS in Columbus.
In other 8th grade action, Dayton Nets/Buckeye Prep, cruised to an easy 50-24 win over the COBBA Knights. The funny thing about this game, I had recently heard some good things about Malik Quisenberry, a 5’11 combo guard from New Carlisle, and he just happened to be running with the Nets. Although I only caught glimpses of his game, it was clear that what I had heard about his game earlier in the week was on the mark. I plan to keep an eye on Quisenberry, as he has a chance to be pretty good.
I don’t really pay a lot of attention to 5th graders, but I have to admit, I really enjoyed watching Dayton’s Salvation Army battle against Columbus’ Bulldogs. Though the Bulldogs led for most of the game, Salvation Army would fight their way back and eventually notch a 36-29 win. Both teams were well coached and blessed with great guard play. For Salvation Army, Jaren Smith handles the PG responsibilities, and the kid handles his business. The floor general for the Bulldogs is Antonio Green, who flashed advance ball skills. The big dog for Army was Kendall Mathis, a 5’7 PF from Dayton. The physically imposing lefty attacked the cup with a vengeance. In fact, whenever he received a feed from one of the guards, this kid wasted no time getting to the rim where he finished at a high rate. A couple of other players I plan to keep an eye on are Columbus’ Dorian Holloway and Benjamin Fort, both of whom are among the leaders on a talented Bulldogs squad. If possible, I plan to make the trek to Cincinnati on Sunday to catch some of the DI championship games.