|Luther Moahamead-Newark, NJ|
Day four of the 7th Grade AAU Nationals saw the ranks of the undefeated dwindle for Ohio-based teams. By the end of the day, only SMAU in DI and Buckeye Prep and Dayton Metro in D-II were still perfect and still competing for national championships. I began the day watching Team Izod take on Oklahoma’s Team Flight in the opening round of bracket play. As soon as I walked into the gym it was clear that Team Izod was huge and had a significant size advantage at every position over Team Flight. Both guards are over 6’0 and there were multiple post players 6’4 and up for Izod. However, despite their length, substantial size advantage, and the fact they led just about the entire game, Team Flight’s diminutive point guard, the smallest kid on the court, kept his team in the game with constant attacks at the cup, drop-offs and treys. In fact, with only a few seconds left in the game, down only 2 points, Team Flight had a chance at the tie or the win but could not convert, and Team Izod was able to hold on to the 56-54 win and advance to play Team Texas Celtics. Luther Mahamead (6’3 SG Newark, NJ) was the leading scorer for Izod with a team-high 18 points. Jahran Qunerly (6’1 PG) added 10 points and Tyreek Chambers finished with 9. Team Flight was led by Mason Harrell (5’1 PG Midwest City, OK) who dropped a game-high 22 points). I know there are many of my colleagues who refuse to get excited by small guards, but Harrell put on a show with a special display of ball handling, aggressiveness, fearlessness, vision and the ability to hit the big shot when it’s needed. Of course the Team Izod roster is full of potential D-I prospects with Mahamead, Qunerly and Nazreon Reid (6’5 C), but Herrell was exciting to watch!
|Jabari Perkins, Ty Wiley & Cory Baker|
Next up was a matchup between the Lamont Tillman’s Ohio Hoopsters and Motivator1 from Florida to see who would face SMAC U in the second round at 6:20pm later Thursday night. The Hoopsters raced out to an early lead on hot shooting of Ty Wiley who drained a couple of treys early. The Hoopsters’ pressure was too much for the team from Florida as they coughed up the rock and gave up easy buckets. By half time the score was 36-17 and Ty Wiley and Corey Baker already had 13 and 9 points, respectively. At that point in the game it appeared the Hoopsters would get the easy win and be able to rest there key players for the second game of the night; however, the Motivator1 players apparently did not get the memo, as they continued to fight and scrap their way back into the game, causing the Hoopsters to expend a lot of energy to ward them off. By midway through the third quarter Motivater1 had cut the lead to 27-39, and it was down only 12 points (30-42) with 33 seconds left in the quarter. It didn’t help that Hoopsters were rushing and taking bad shots, then throw in technical foul shots then things really started getting interesting. Despite Motivater1’s run, Jabri Perkins got hot for the Hoopsters and they were able to withstand the surge and hang on to get the 67-52 win. Cory Baker led all scorers with 17 points, followed by Ty Wiley with 15 and Jabari Perkins with 13 points.
Later that night the Hoopsters matched up with in-state foe SMAC U in second round action. The Hoopster’s may have been Buckeye Prep’s #1 ranked team in the state, but SMAC U proved to be the better team Thursday night with a 67-56 win. The Hoopsters are now relegated to the second round loser’s bracket where they will play Tennessee United Basketball at 6:20pn on Friday night.
|Raekwon Drake-Huntsville Alamabama|
Right after the Hoopster’s game, King James and Chicago Select squared off. This game was a low scoring affair as both teams sat back in 2-3 zones, refusing to allow each other’s guards dribble penetration. Although King James got on the board first, Chicago went on a 10-2 run to take a 10-4 lead with 2:47 left in the opening quarter. There was not much more scoring in the first quarter, but Chicago’s Raekwon Drake excited the crowd with a dunk which resulted from a laser pass from guard Xavier Castaneda. By the end of the first quarter the score was only 12-10, and only 18-15 to close the first half. King James opened the second half with a Jordan Coovert layup and free throw to tie the game at 18. The game remained close throughout the 3rd quarter and Chicago started the final period up 27-28. Although King James put up a good fight, Chicago Select simply made a few more positive plays and would go on to win 44-40. Raekwon Drake (6’3 C Huntsville, AL) was the leading scorer for Chicago with 12 points followed by Xavier Castaneda and Malik Onyealy both with 10 points. Jordan Coovert paced King James with 12 points, while Michael Bothwell added 11; Grayson Green finished with 8 and Yael Hill had 7 points.
The Shining Stars punched their ticket to the D-II Sweet 16 on Thursday after defeating Massachusetts Elite 77-55. The Shining Stars jumped all over Mass Elite and never let them back in the game. From what I saw, the Stars were much quicker and much more talented. With their win, the Shining Stars will face PR Stars to get to Elite 8 and a sure top 8 finish. Jackson See was the leading scorer with 16 points, followed by Jack Cravaack with 12 and Isaiah Payton 10 and Cory Davis with 9 points.
|Garrett Tipton-Teays Valley|
Ed Lyshe’s Buckeye Prep squad notched their 4th win of the tournament and a berth in the Sweet 16 with a 65-52 win over the Tennessee Legends on Thursday night. Although the Legends had a lot of size in the post, Buckeye Prep never trailed in the game. Once again, Prep enjoyed balanced scoring, as 4 players scored in double digits. Teays Valley’s Garret Tipton continues to have a great tournament as evidenced by his game-high 22 points. Teon and Therron Jennings added 11 points each and Chase Rankin finished with 10 markers. Buckeye Prep will play for a chance to get into the Elite 8 and a guaranteed top 8th national finish when they face off against the Inland Force Friday night at 6:20pm.
Chuck Painter’s Dayton Metro Team is still on a roll down here in Memphis with another win on Thursday. This time Metro got by Connecticut’s Stamford Peace 68-60 to go 4-0. TK Robinson had another big game, finishing with 21 points, followed John Alessandro who had 17.
Kevin Jackson’s Murphy AC squad suffered their first loss on Thursday at the hands of the Southern Stampede (71-75). Murphy AC was up by 10 points at 1 point but “fell apart,” said Jackson. Murphy AC will now try to make a run in the second round loser’s bracket for a chance to finish 10th or 13th. First up for them will be South Carolina’s Team United at 3:40pm on Friday. Unfortunately, Ryan Glaze’ Team Toledo team took their 4th straight loss on Thursday to close out their tournament run. At the end of the day, turnovers were their demise!
All-Ohio Red is headed back to Columbus after dropping their first game in the Classic bracket to Diamonds in Rough 66-74. Team Excel is still alive in the Classic bracket with a 49-60 win over the Lauderhill Lions early Friday.