|SMAC U-6th Grade Division Champions|
The final day of the Bearcat Classic saw few surprises, as the final results of the middle school divisions went about as expected. In the 7th grade division, Gene Reddy’s SMAC U squad pretty much manhandled Indiana Ice 57-35 to claim the 7th grade title. Just when you thought SMAC U might be challenged (it was 7-1 early in favor of the Ice), with the help of a 11-0 run orchestrated in large part by Luke Brand, SMAC pressed on the gas and never looked back. In the first half, Brand was dominate in a 5 minute stretch that included consecutive buckets (9 points), multiple rebounds and a couple of blocked shots. It was easily his best performance of the weekend. For the game, Brand finished with 12 points. Although Brand had a breakout performance, Avon Lake’s Cooper Crawford had another great game, finishing with a game-high 14 points.
|Cooper Crawford-Avon Lake, OH|
Although I led this report off with a short recap of the 7th grade championship game, the real game of the day featured a slugfest between SMAC U and the Shining Stars. This game had a little bit of everything, including a 25 minute delay caused by a fire alarm. This was a seesaw battle from the tip, and the game was contested until the final seconds. In fact, with less than a minute left in the contest, and SMAC clinging to a 4 point lead, the fire alarm went off. After the break, the real drama began, as the Shining Stars, down 44-42 with 14 tics left, had a chance at the tie or win, but could not convert, and was forced to foul. Two free throws later the final score of 45-42. This game featured several players from Buckeye Prep’s Top 30 Player list. The game also featured a great match-up of some of the elite bigs in the class in Jack Cravaack and Luke Brand. I have to give big props to Cravaack who had a big game, finishing with a gaudy 16 points. Cooper Crawford added 13 points and Jackson See led the Stars with 8 points.
Earlier in the day, SMAC U knocked off the Indiana’s Team Tempo. In that game, SMAC got out to a 12-0 start and never let off the gas. I learned a few things about this team over the weekend, including the fact that they are so well balanced that a different kid seems to step up and lead the team in scoring in every game. One game it might be Cooper Crawford, the next Luke Brand. Garret Houser is capable of controlling a game, or a guy like Gavin Blunt might lead the team in scoring, or Jaret Pallotta might get hot from the three point line. Throw in solid guard play from Zane Reis and Chaz Hardin and you have a well-rounded team.
|Justin Oden-6'1 WF Springhill, TN|
My 7th grade Buckeye Prep team made a nice run through the Silver Bracket before running into Chuck Painter’s Dayton Metro team for like the 4th time this year. For the record, Dayton Metro was relegated to the Silver Bracket after a loss to Nashville’s AAG in the 3rd game of pool play on Sunday. Justin Oden (6’1 WF Springhill, Tennessee) is a player to look out for on the AAG squad. I caught a glimpse of him on Friday and was intrigued by his length and athleticism. Ok, back to the Buckeye Prep versus Dayton Metro game. Although this game was very close, and Buckeye Prep had a chance to win it before committing 3 turnovers in the final minute of the game, Dayton Metro would go on to grab the Silver Bracket crown. Dayton’s Deshan Parker would convert 2 free throws with .6 seconds left to get the 2 point win. Gahanna’s Seth Goodson was big for Buckeye Prep. To get to the championship game, Buckeye Prep narrowly escaped with a win against West Virginia’s Southern Exposure. Although Prep enjoyed a comfortable 12 point lead in the first half of that game, Kermit, West Virginia’s Tyler Mayes heated up from beyond the arc and led his team all the way back to make this one a nail biter. Mayes led his team with 13 points, almost all from 3 pointers.
In the first round of Gold Bracket play, Ohio Unity’s 7th grade team held off Kentucky’s Tri-State Warriors in overtime to advance to the semi-finals. The final score was 55-53 in favor of Ohio Unity. A shout out goes to Sal LaRubbio (5’6 SG Lakota), who looked really good in the game, finishing with a game-high 15 points.
|Keegan McDowell-8th Grade|
The Cincinnati Royals’ White squad was victorious over Ohio Unity Holtry in the championship game to stake claim to the 8th grade championship. It may have been a championship game, but the eventual outcome was in little doubt by halftime, as the Royals were already comfortably ahead 30-13. Playing without key players such as Alec Hotlry (back), Tyler Mitchell (neck), including a player who was suffering from the flu, Ohio Unity had little chance of defeating a hot Royals squad. Matt Dotson (6’5 C Centerville) saved his best game for the championship, as he logged in a near double-double of 10 points and 9 rebounds. The rest of the contributors included: Keegan McDowell (13), Matt King (8 points & 4 assists), Adam Baker (6 points), Matt Sichterman (6 points) and Jaeden Orr (5 points & 4 steals). On their march to the championship, the Royals knocked off the NKY Shining Stars (61-39), Columbus Crusaders (61-30), and Indy Hustle (45-36). This team is blessed with several talented players who can all lead in scoring in any given game. They may not scare you getting off the bus, but they execute well, and you had better have a couple of zone offenses teed up if you expect a win! For the record, Ohio Unity defeated the Royals’ Blue team by 18 points to punch their ticket to the final game.
|SMAC Showtime-6th Grade Champions|
SMAC’s 6th grade team went undefeated over the weekend to seize the 6th grade championship trophy. Although it was pretty easy sailing for most of the tournament, Showtime found themselves in a battle with Dayton Elite in the championship game. The game was nip and tuck the entire way, with no team gaining more than a point or two edge the entire game. In fact, Dayton Elite actually had a chance to win it, but missed free throws late was the difference. SMAC Showtime would outlast Dayton 32-31. Kendall Mathis and Brian Johnson were standout performers for Dayton Elite, while Mike Bekelja and Kyi Wright stood out for SMAC.
|Carson Williams-6'5 WF Owen County, KY|
I caught a couple of 9th grade games on Sunday, including a semi-final showdown between SMAC and Kentucky’s Hoop Dreams. That SMAC team features one of Ohio’s top 2016 bigs in Omari Spellman (6’8 C North Royalton). Although Spellman had a big game with a team-high 15 points, the Hoop Dreams advanced to the finals with the 58-53 victory. Carson Williams (6’5 WF Owen County HS) paced Hoop Dreams with a game-high 18 points. In an earlier game, SMAC bum rushed Legends Elite 42-26 to advance. The high man for SMAC in that game was Devon Stover (6’3 SG St. Ignatius) who finished with a game-best 14 points. For full tournament results, click on the link below.
Final Day Photo Gallery