Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Martin Luther King Holiday Classic-Saturday

Over the weekend, I had a chance to shoot down to Cincinnati to check out the grade school action at the Martin Luther King Holiday Classic at Sports Plus. Sponsored by MWX Tournaments, the event hosted teams in grades 2nd-high school. Although I intended to watch more of the 6th grade division, I was most intrigued by some 4th graders. All-Ohio Purple, a Cincinnati based 4th grade team sponsored by Orlando Berry, has a chance to be one of the best teams in the state for many years. I know it’s still very early, but this team is simply loaded with talent, as evidenced by their 25-0 overall record. In the game I watched, All-Ohio destroyed a Lakota-based team 52-3.

Of course blowouts are common these days, but this team was surgical in how it picked Lakota apart with stifling defensive pressure, which often led to easy offense. Also, let me be the first to introduce Joey Edmonds, a 4’10 PG from Wyoming. The son of an assistant high school coach at Moeller, Edmonds posses a skill set and determination beyond his years! Of course many of you will say I’m just hyping up another 4th grader, but for real, this kid has a chance to be really good. Not only is the kid very skilled, his attitude is tough and rugged, he has great basketball instincts already, and he plays the game with intensity. As an example, during a timeout, I saw the kid on the sidelines doing pushups as a self-imposed punishment for missing a shot. Edmonds is already making moves that some middle and high school kids can make yet.

Let me be clear, there are several talented players on this team, including Mike Hill (Finney Town), Kevin Singleton (Westwood), Greg Tribble (Forrest Park), Demarko Bradley (Price Hill), Jalen Rose (Bon Hill) and Donte Mosley (Westwood). I know it’s way too early for a lot of my colleagues, but I’m going to keep an eye on this group of kids! A couple of other talented 4th graders I saw included: Chris’seon Brown (Hamilton), Corey Davis (Hamilton), Terry Evans (Forrest Park) and Zuri Edmondson (Hurtwell).

I did get a chance to watch some 6th grade ball, as the Central Ohio Knights took on the Cincy Buckeyes. The Knights made the trek down to Cincinnati in search of competition, as they have dominated the teams in the Columbus area. Needles to say, they got what they asked for, as the Buckeyes erased and early first half lead, and had a chance to win the game at the free throw line with under 2 minutes left. The knights held on to win by a score of 42-35. The Knights went on to claim the title with a win over the Friars Hawks in the championship game. Some of the top players I saw included: Trey Pugh (Hilliard), Braden Budd (Hilliard), Nick Irwin (Grove City), Brendon White (Olentangy) and Preston Easnaugle (Grove City). For the Cincy Buckeyes, Raymere Jeters (Madisonville), Mykel Anderson (College Hill), Trey Releford (Evanston) and Carlos Weathers played well.

As most of you know, Ohio kids cannot play in AAU-type tournaments during the middle school season; however, that rule does not apply to Kentucky kids who benefit from relaxed rules. Because of those opportunities to get in more basketball against greater competition, the Northern Kentucky Legends’ 7th grade squad traveled a few minutes north looking to build on their 14-1 record. By the time I left the gym, the Legends were well on their way to running their record to 15-0. However, the Legends were downed by the Sherwin Stars in the Jr. high championship game. Some of the top kids for the Legends included: Brennon Englemon (Florence), Jacob Smith (Covington), Brandon Moore (Covington), Andrew Arnold (Covington) and Cameron Snapp (Brackon County).

Finally, although Buckeye Prep has rarely covers girls hoops, I have to say a few words about a very talented All-Ohio group from Columbus. Coach Jon Bethea, better known as “JB” in girls’ hoops circles, has once again assembled a juggernaut with his 6th grade girls team. Over the weekend, with their superior size, athleticism and talent, All-Ohio breezed through the tournament to until they were upended by the Friars Blue Wave in the championship game. To see the pictures I took at the event, visit the Buckeye Prep Facebook Fanpage.

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