|Buckeye Prep vs Tier 1 Sports|
Day one of the Buckeye Prep Invitational tipped off on Friday night at 2 locations in Columbus, Ohio. Of the 115 teams entered in this year’s event, approximately 18 teams were in action. The first game I watched was my 7th grade Buckeye Prep team versus Lima’s Tier 1 Sports. The game was tight from the opening tip and was knotted at 24 at the half. Much like the first period, the second have featured multiple lead changes and ties. However, Buckeye Prep opened up a 10 point lead with about 5 minutes left in the game. But hold on, with about 4 and a half minutes remaining Buckeye Prep’s Seth Goodson fouled out, and that’s when Coach Quincy’s team turned up the defensive pressure. Because Buckeye Prep failed to handle the pressure, Tier 1 converted turnovers to layups and tied the game at 50 at about the 2:05 mark. Buckeye Prep would hold off a hard charging Tier 1 to collect an important 54-52 opening night victory. Despite being relegated to the bench with foul trouble, Seth Goodson led Buckeye Prep with 18 points, while Garrett Tipton added 10 points and Caleb Phillips and Chase Rankin contributed 10 and 8 points, respectively. New to the Tier 1 roster this tournament was Dayton’s Antwuan Johnson who was running with King James only a week ago. The leading scorers were Johnson with 15 points, Coby Kelly with 10 and Jay Kaufman and Nick Morman both with 8 points.
|David Fitzgeral-Ohio Hoopsters|
Next up was the 7th grade Ohio Hoopsters and Hidden Gems. Although the game was competitive early, thanks to 11 half time points by Westerville’s David Fitzgerald, the Hoopsters would run the lead to 31-13 by halftime. The second have was not much different, as the Hoopsters continued to dominate an undermanned Hidden Gems squad on their way to a 50-16 win. Fitzgerald would finish with a game-high 15 points; Juan Elmore added a points. Like a lot of teams this early in the AAU season, the Hoopsters had an roster addition of their own. Although Zion White, a 6’5 center from FCI Academy in Columbus, is raw, he’s a big body with a lot of upside once he learns how to play the game. When I say raw, that’s just what I mean; the kid has only been playing basketball for 1 year, and this is his first year playing AAU ball. It’s very early for White, but it might be a good idea to keep an eye on his development.
Staying with the 7th graders, Ohio Varsity started the tournament strong with a close 39-36 win over the Dayton Pilots. Isaiah Hairston paced Ohio Varsity with 11 points, while Eaton’s Trace Couch led all scorers with 19 points. Couch is an 8th grader, but he is young enough to play down at the 7th grade level. In other action, OBC began the night with a convincing 56-36 victory over the Ohio Hoopsters. Preston Eisnaugle was hot late, as he drained 4 treys in the second half to finish with a game-high 17 points. Ty Wiley added 11 points while Jabari Perkins continued to impress onlookers.
At the request of their coach, Tier 1 played a second game on opening night. This time, the Lima area team matched up with Columbus’ Nova Village in the night cap. Nova Village drew first blood and actually raced out to an 11-4 lead. However, Tier I battled all the way back, tying the game at 17 by the half. The story in the second half was much different, as the well coached Tier 1 would display their superior talent on their way to a convincing 41-20 victory. Nick Morman led with 7 points, while Antwuan Johnson and BJ Miller added 6 points apiece.
The Ohio Rising Stars’ 6th grade squad really put it on an unsuspecting Huntsman Select team that was clearly out manned. So much so, the mercy rule had to be dusted off in the second half. You knew it was going to be a long night for the Urbana based team when they failed to score until the 6:12 mark, before finding themselves down 30-1. The eventual margin of victory would be a gaudy 48-3. I will give this to Huntsman Select; they never stopped fighting and never hung their heads. Andre Gordon was the big man on campus for the Rising Stars with 16 points, while Michael Kriell added 11 points.
All in all, it was a great day of competition. Tomorrow I will try and catch some more of the 6th graders and a couple of teams in the 8th grade division. I really want to see the M.A.T.T.S. Mustangs, as well as the Cincinnati Royals and the Atlanta Celtics. In the 6th grade division, Kim Felder is back on the sidelines with a Jeff Teague-sponsored team (Team Teague JTO All-Stars) who are supposed to be real good. Team Blaze Select, another Indiana-based team may be worth getting a look at, as well as KYWA Magic out of Kentucky, Truth Basketball, and of course Murphy AC. It should be another great day of hoops on day #2!