Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dayton Airmen Tournament Loaded With Talent

Dayton Swish-6th Grade Champions

 On Monday, I made a trip south to Dayton catch the final day action of the Dayton Airmen’s annual MLK Day tournament. Although the tournament has a history of attracting quality teams, this year’s field was especially competitive in the 5th and 6th grade divisions. Monday’s games were all about bracket play and championship games, and boy were there some good ones!

Late Monday I had the pleasure of watching 3 straight games that were very competitive, and were not decided until the closing minutes of the games. In a 5th grade semi-final game, the Game Faith Stars out lasted the Dayton Airmen 36-40.  Although the Airmen were bigger and more athletic, the well-coached Stars played with more precision, executed more efficiently and grinded their way to the victory. The top performers for the Stars were Malcom McKay, Will Thomas and Josh Turner, all of whom reside in Springfield. Standouts for the Airmen included Eric Smith and Tyler Dorsey (4th grade), both from Dayton.

All-Tournament Team (Mims, Anderson, O'Neal, Fulcher, Allocco & Hughley)

The Dayton Swish vs Team Teague 6th grade semi-final game was a nail biter and required overtime before a winner could be decided. Team Teague was clearly the bigger and more athletic squad, but the Swish were quicker, tougher and just seemed to want the game a little more. Dayton’s swarming and trapping defense neutralized Team Teague’s considerable front court size advantage, and in the end, the Swish would punch their ticket to the championship game with a 35-33 victory. Keshawn Hughley (5’4 WF Dayton) was the leading scorer for the Swish with 11 points, while Jason Hall (4’11 PG Indianapolis) paced Team Teague with a game-high 15 points. Although Hughley is a man-child who uses his size and strength score and rebound, Hall is a dynamic PG with loads of potential. More specifically, Hall is very skilled, can shoot from deep, has the ball on a string, has a high motor and basketball IQ and is an able and willing passer. Also, Hall is very smooth and poised and could have future D-I potential with continued growth and development. I also liked Cameron Stash (5’9 WF Indianapolis) and James Curry (5’11 WF Indianapolis), both of whom, are long and very athletic.

Jason Hall-4'11 PG Indianapolis

The 6th grade championship was a barn burner and featured a matchup between the New Birth Warriors and the Dayton Swish. Before the game,  Swish Coach Sam Anderson hinted that his team had “something for New Birth,” and his prediction was on the money, as Dayton claimed the title with a hard-fought 51-45victory. In terms of a recap, New Birth scored first to start the game on a layup by Savion O’Neal. The opening quarter was tight, and ended with a score of 12-14 in favor of Dayton. By half time, new Birth and regained the lead and went into the half up 28-27. The Warriors would draw first blood to start the second half with a free throw, but Dayton would answer right back with a Keyshawn Hughley layup to take a 31-29 lead. Back-to-back scores from the Swish put them up 33-29. Dayton would make a run to close the 3rd period with the lead. The Swish would maintain the lead until New Birth tied the game at 43 with 25 seconds left. After a Josiah Fulcher half-court heave missed the mark, the game went to overtime. Dayton controlled overtime and would go on to get the win and the title. I did not get the final score, but Keyshawn Hughely, Sam Anderson and Carter Mims were the standouts for Dayton, while Matt Allocco, Josiah Fulcher, Von Cameron Davis and Savon O’Neal paced New Birth. As a final note, Upper Arlington’s Matt Allocco continues to draw a lot of praise for his spectacular play, and his performance last weekend would have garnered him MVP honors had New Birth got the win.  

In addition to the quality teams in this event, there was a lot of individual talent as well. As evidence of the talent level at this event, many of the participating players are currently listed on the Buckeye Prep Report “Watch List” which we use to identify perspective future stars. In addition to the players featured above, keep an eye of the following players: Keon’te Hughley (5’3 P/SG Dayton), Tavon Goodwin (5’8 WF Dayton), Evan Prater (5’4 WF Cincinnati), Jamel Walker (4’9 PG), Carl Blanton (5’11 WF Dayton), Eric Smith (5th grade PG Dayton) and Daniel Cummings (5’10 C Dayton). 

For the record, Salvation Army teams won the 3rd and 5th grade division championships, while the Warriors captured the 4th grade division crown. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Charlotte Harris, Mark Landers, Coach Powell and the entire Dayton Airmen staff for the great hospitality they extended!

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