|All-Ohio Red vs Excel|
The King James Shooting Stars Classic tipped off Friday night at multiple sites around northeastern Ohio. As usual, the annual event attracted boys and girls teams from across the country in grades 2nd-11th. I started the night off watching my 7th grade Buckeye Prep team battle against Sacramento’s 916 Select, one of the top teams in the nation last year. Buckeye Prep got out of the gates quickly by jumping to an early 5-0 lead, but 916 would answer with a 9-0 run to seize a 9-5 lead. A 4-0 run by Buckeye Prep knotted the game at 9-9 by the 8:02 mark. 916 would go on a spurt to grab a 21-11 lead with 2:22 remaining in the half. Prep would score one more time to close the period down 23-16. A Garrett Tipton layup started the second half and cut the lead to 23-18. A 7-2 Buckeye Prep run closed the gap to 30-29 by the 8:11 mark. The game would seesaw for the rest of the half, but Prep would eventually squeak out a 41-39 win over a very good opponent. Besides the win, the big story of the game was the outstanding play of 916’s Kiiwon Bradford, a 6’3 point forward from Sacramento. This kid has the full package, including ample athleticism; the ability to play all 5 positions, and he can shoot it. In fact, Bradford tried to punch it on the break and barely missed. Remember the name; the kid has a ton of potential! Gahanna’s Seth Goodson drained a couple of big time treys in the second period and led Buckeye Prep with 16 points. Despite 916’s clear size advantage in the paint, Big Walnut’s Kaleb Phillips had a big game, finishing with 9 points, followed by Garrett Tipton who added 7 markers. Next up for Buckeye Prep is Pittsburgh’s Caveman Basketball.
|Seth Goodson Paced Buckeye Prep|
With 63 teams in the 7th grade division alone, you would think no team would have to play a team from its own city. That was not the case for All-Ohio Red and Excel, as the 2 cross-town rivals squared off on Friday night. Although the 3rd ranked Excel was the overwhelming favorite to get the opening night win, All-Ohio came out smoking and led the game until the 5:10 mark (13-13). Excel would take a 15-13 lead on a Dane Goodwin layup with 3:45 left in the half. All-Ohio would battle back and tie the game at 21 on a Houston King 3-ball. Excel would respond with a 9-0 run and take a 30-21 lead into the break. Excel’s 6-0 run to start the second period eventually resulted in a 54-35 blowout win. Not only does Excel play great team defense, but inside scoring by Hilliard’s Isaiah Speelman and perimeter scoring by Dane Goodwin is often too much for most teams. Goodwin is highly skilled and has a nice all around game. He shoots the three very well, but he can also put the rock on the floor and get to the cup. He finished with a game-high 24 points. I’ve praised Speelman’s game a lot on this site, but he deserves it! The kid’s spin move on the baseline is his signature, but he is so active in the paint both offensively and defensively that most post players can’t contain him. There is simply no other big man in the state doing quite what Speelman is doing. I will close with this, if he gets to 6’7, high major coaches better have him on their boards!
|Isaiah Speelman & Dane Goodwin Led Excel|
Although I missed it, I understand there was a big time battle between the Queen City’s top 2 teams, as the #1 ranked Queen City Prophets (QCP) and the #7 ranked Shining Stars matched-up for the first time this season on opening night. From what I understand, the score was tight throughout the game, with no team able to sustain a lead of more than 6-8 points. Down 59-57 with time running out, the Shining Stars had a chance at the tie or win, but Isaiah Payton’s last second jumper missed the mark. QCP would get the 59-57 win as well as local bragging rights. Big EJ Williams a force in the paint again to the tune of 25 points, while Xavier Peters added 10 points. Jack Cravaack led the Shining Stars with 17 points, followed by CJ Fredrick who contributed 14 points. Although they lost, the Star’s performance may warrant a jump in the rankings!
|Kiiwon Bradford-6'3 WF Sacramento|
Kevin Jackson’s Murphy AC squad road balanced scoring all the way to an easy 65-34 win over Indiana’s BattleCats. Also, Dayton Metro started off the tournament 1-0 with a blowout victory over the Detroit All-Stars. DeMarco Bradley’s All-Ohio Red #1 ranked juggernaut began their trek to the 6th grade title with a convincing 72-22 win over the Battlecats from Indiana. As most teams do, the BattleCats came out in a 2-3 zone, but hot shooting from Jaiden Lipscomb and Malachi Matthews and a 19-0 run to start the game doomed that strategy early. Jim Schmock’s 8th grade King James went uncontested with a 60-33 beat down of Grove City’s Ohio Sting. The competition will get a lot stiffer for King James, as they have a match up with New York’s New Rens on Saturday afternoon. Some people have the NYC squad as the top team in the country.