|Lakota Pride-7th grade Champions|
On Monday I had the opportunity to check out the final day action at Kelly Peeks’ MLK Holiday Classic at the Sports Plus facility in Cincinnati, and although the AAU season is still several week away, there was still some good talent in the gym. The tournament hosted about 77 boys and girls teams in grades 2nd-8th. For the record, the 7th and 8th grade teams were from Kentucky, where kids can play in games outside of middle school ball.
By the time I arrived in the gym, the 6th & 7th grade teams were into the semi-final rounds. Right out of the gate I caught the first 7th grade semi-final game between Kentucky’s Tri-State Warriors and the Lexington Hustle (6th grade). Despite their serious height disadvantage, the Hustle’s superior guard play leveled the playing field, as the Hustle would eventually secure a 45-43 overtime victory. The star of the game was Frankfort’s Diablo Stewart who dropped a game-high 23 points. Stewart is a crafty little guard who can score in bunches. He has a creative handle, solid dribble moves and he does a good job of finding open teammates. The man in middle for the Hustle was Nigel Frimpong (5’8 PF) who, though undersized compared to the Warrior’s front line, was strong and athletic enough to still be effective in the paint.
|Joey Edmonds-5'1 PG Wyoming|
The 7th grade championship game featured a match up between the Lakota Pride and the Lexington Hustle, as well as a battle between the top 2 point guards in the gym. Before I talk about the PG battle, it’s important to note that the Pride would go on to claim a 54-42 victory and the title. Now with that out of the way, I already told you about Diablo Stewart whom I was very impressed with, but Wyoming’s Joey Edmonds is really special. As most of Buckeye Prep’s regular followers know, I have written positively about Edmonds on several prior occasions. Let me just say this; the kid is even better than I had recalled. Not only is Edmonds is highly skilled and has a high basketball IQ, he has a mature game beyond his years. As you watch him race up and down the court at break neck speed, you soon come to realize you’re watching a special talent. Edmonds can shoot the three ball, he has a nice floater, and his ball handling skills allow him to get to the rack with regularity. But that’s not all, the kid really knows how to run a team and he does a great job of distributing the rock. His work of ball screens is amazing for a kid his age. The match up between Stewart and Edmonds was good one, and the two battled each other for most of the game, but at the end of the day, Edmonds’s team won, and he led all scorers with 21 points.
|Diablo Stewart-5'0 PG Frankfort, KY|
In the 6th grade championship game, Team Get Ryte rode the hot shooting hand of Rylan Woods all the way to a 51-to 25 win over the Shining Stars. Woods was smoking hot as he knocked down 5 triples on his way to a game-high 19 points. Although the game was close at the half, Team Get Ryte would later stretch the lead midway through the second half. Michael Spencer, a 5’4 PG from Union, Kentucky was a standout out for the Shining Stars.
|Jack Pugh-5'6 PF Plain City|
The 5th grade championship was claimed by the Ohio Pumas who soundly defeated the Bombers by the score of 52-32. Plain City’s Jack Pugh (5’6 PF) was the top guy with the Pumas, while Jack Soyer (4th grader from Pickerington) logged in a solid performance as well.