|Team Dayton Captures 9th Grade Crown|
The 4th Annual Nike City Series Championships concluded on Sunday, and although the overall talent level was down this year, there was still a lot of individual and team talent represented at all levels. In the high school division, the championships were divided among Columbus, Dayton and Cleveland.
In the 12th grade division, Columbus Red defeated Columbus Gold 81-75 in a seesaw battle for citywide bragging rights. Although Columbus Gold got out to a spirited start, Columbus Red got back on track and retook a lead they would never relinquish. Although Columbus Red was paced by Kevin Marsh and Wendell Davis in terms of scoring, Westerville North’s Adrian Cook helped direct his team to the win while rapping up MVP honors. Columbus Gold’s early success was due to the impressive play of Columbus South’s Omar Diop and his 14 first half points (20 for the game). In the second half, Brookhaven’s DeAndre Martin took over and finished with a game-high 22 points.
Although I did not have a chance to catch the games, I understand that Cleveland defeated Columbus in the 10th grade division, while the junior crown was captured by Columbus over Cleveland. Shaker Height’s Esa Ahmed captured the MVP award for the sophomores, while Pickerington Central’s Jea’shon Tate claimed the honors for the juniors.
|Rodrick Caldwell-9th Grade MVP|
Fortunately for me, I arrived at Reynoldsburg High School just in time to catch the start of the freshman championship game, and what a game it was, as Columbus’ best faced off against Dayton’s elite. The game was nick and tuck the entire way, and required overtime before a champion could be crowned. With the game all knotted up, Columbus had a shot to win it in regulation with time running out, but a last second shot had little chance of going in due to the heavy pressure that was exerted by a Dayton defender. After a 3 minute overtime period, Dayton would go on to claim an 81-83 victory. Dayton was led by lead guard Rodrick Caldwell who virtually took over the game late in the second half on his way to 15 points and the MVP nod. Also playing well for Dayton were Trey and Terrence Landers and Derek Daniels. Although there were some questions with the accuracy of the individual scoring, Columbus was paced by Seth Towns, Terik Wright and Jeloni Rogers.
|Esa Ahmed-10th Grade MVP|
According to John Stoval, the following players were all standouts over the course of the weekend: (2013) Aaron Jackson (Gahanna Lincoln), Randal Clarkson (Brookhaven), Jeff Thomas (Norwalk), Austin Grimes (Cincinnati Aiken) Wendell Davis (Reynoldsburg); (2014) Jae’shon Tate (Pickerington Central), Javon Bess (Gahanna Lincoln), Rosel Hurley, Jaylen Tucker; (2015) Jordan Dartis (Newark); Esa Ahmed (Shaker Heights); (2016) Seth Towns (Northland), James Manns II (Marion Franklin), Derek Daniels (Thurgood Marshall), Rodrick Caldwell (Stivers), Willie Jackson (Garfield Heights), Tervell Beck (Cleveland Central Catholic) & Derek Funderburk (St Edwards).
Dayton captured their second championship of the event with a 44-43 win over Cincinnati. The all-tournament team included: Jaquel Freeman (MVP), Shamari Jamison, Matt Wilcox, Jaden Sayles and Keshawn Gamble.
|Coryon Rice-7th Grade MVP|
Because of a last minute scheduling change, I did not make it back over to the USA Sports Academy in time to catch the 7th grade championship game; however, I heard that Cleveland squeaked out a single digit win over Columbus. According to my source, it was a great game with great effort and passion by players from both teams. Bedford’s Coryon Rice was named MVP, and although no official all-tournament team was selected, the unofficial team may have included Ty Wiley, Juan Elmore and Yael Hill, all of whom are reported to have played well.
|Jerome Francis III-6th Grade MVP|
The 6th grade crown was contested by both Columbus teams. The Blue squad claimed the chip with a 62-53 win over the Red team. The All-tournament team included: Jerome Francis III (MVP), Gerard Reynolds, Tre Watkins, Jordan Mitchell and Gavin Blunt.
Cleveland took home a second championship with an easy 53-36 victory over Columbus Black (aka Hilliard Pumas). The all-tournament team included: Shamar Morrow (MVP), Omahn Dobbins, Meechie Johnson, Jalon Keith and Jack Pugh.
The final championship of the day pitted Columbus #1 versus Cleveland in the 4th grade division. Cleveland took it 50-41. The all-tournament team included: Seth Wilson (MVP), Manny Hill, Sonny Johnson Jr., Josiah Mobley and Sean Jones (3rd grader). It should be noted the Wilson led all scorers with 18 points, followed by Hill with 16 points and Johnson with 11 markers.
All in all it was a good weekend of basketball and an excellent tune up for the upcoming high school and middle school season. The event was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it represented a good opportunity to get in some quality work. Also, it gave me the opportunity to see a lot of young kids I had not yet seen. Look for many of the standout players to participate in our spring Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase currently scheduled for March 3rd. Finally, click on the links below to see the championship team pictures, all-tournament teams and the day two standouts; plus day 2 pictures. Also, I will provide some misc comments about mu observations this weekend in our new "What's Happening Around Ohio" feature.