|SMAC U-AAU Nationals 9th Place Finishers|
Five Ohio based teams made the trek to Orlando, Florida to participate in the D-I 8th grade AAU Nationals, and by the end of the tournament on Wednesday, only the Cleveland based SMAC U had placed among the top 14 finishers. SMAC U finished 3-0 in pool play and was cruising through the championship bracket until Sports U Izod upended them (68-43) in the 3rd round. Once relegated to the 3rd round consolation bracket, SMAC U got hot and ran off 3 straight wins on their way to a 9th place finish. To get to the medal game, SMAC U took down Hughley Elite Blue (81-71), 916 Select (67-62) and the powerful Kentucky Gators (62-72).
SMAC U is no stranger to success as evidenced by their 50-5 overall record this season. Also, their run at the nationals was accomplished with a short roster of only 8 players. According to Head Coach Gene Ready; the team’s success can be attributed to overall team play. “We took 8 guys down who were all incredibly unselfish,” Ready said. “We had 4 different guys leading us in scoring over the 9 games,” Ready continued. Ready also was proud of the play of point guard Sincere Carry who held Damon Hodge, one of the top PGs in the country, to only 4 points. SMAC U will finish the 2014 season with a return trip to the Gym Rats Nationals in Fort Wayne, Indiana in a couple of weeks. The SMAC U roster includes: Sincere Carry, Garrett Houser, Phil Jurkovic, Gavin Blunt, Greyson Green, Jaret Pallotta, Luke Brand and Tadas Tataranus.
The only other Ohio team to make it out of pool play was the Queen City Prophets (QCP). After finishing 2-1 in pool play and making it into the championship bracket, QCP dropped their first game to Team Texas Elite (72-51). From there, QCP defeated Hoop Heaven Elite (63-55), but was dispatched from the tournament after a 63-45 loss to Hughley Elite Blue. In the next round
The Ohio Hoopsters (2-1), King James (1-2) and All-Ohio Red (1-2) all failed to make it out of pool play and were forced to continue their run in the Classic bracket. Once there, the Hoopsters got by Shooting Stars NY (63-58) and Atlanta Blackout (66-50) before being edged out by instate rival King James (59-57). King James advanced one game further before going down to Baltimore’s Finest (61-46). All-Ohio Red won their opening round Classic game against the Georgia Stars (72-45), but headed home after a 48-45 loss to CFL Magic 2018.
For the record, Georgia United Elite defeated Sports U Izod (47-41) in the championship game to take home the title. We All Can Go, MB1, Texas Select, NC Running Rebels, San Antonio Hardwork and LA-ATR Xplosion rounded out the final eight. Ohio has a long history of success at national tournaments, so placing only 1 team in the medal count has to be a bit disappointing. However, congrats to SMAC U for insuring we had at least 1 team “in the money.”