Thursday, March 27, 2014

NYBL Session #1 Recap

Barrett, Lewis, Williams, Gary, Mitchell, Harris, Days & McGriff 
By most accounts, the opening session of the National Youth Basketball League (NYBL) was a huge success! In season 2 of the widely popular league, 32 seventh grade teams and 16 sixth grade teams will compete in 4 sessions (Washington DC, Atlanta, Louisville and Columbus) for a chance to win a NYBL National Championship. Session #1 resulted in several intriguing storylines both in terms of team and individual performance, and will be remembered for major early season upsets and jaw dropping plays.

With both teams from the 2013 6th grade AAU Nationals championship game scheduled to do battle early on day #1, there was a great deal of excitement in the New 24 facility in District Heights, Maryland.  CP3, (formally Carolina Preps) had only lost 1 game last year, and that was to the eventual NYBL champions, All-Ohio Red. Moreover, CP3 has already notched a handful of titles so far this season. Anybody who follows Josh Woodson’s Texas Express Elite (formally Deron Williams) squad understands that this early season rematch was destin to be a dogfight. Early in the game CP3 found themselves in unfamiliar territory, as they were down 7-0. Of course the defending national champions would make a run and get back in the game, but in the final analysis, Texas Express was the better team that day and would hold on to win 46-40. Texas’ relentless pressure disrupted CP3’s patented offense and would not allow them to get comfortable in their sets. Before session 1 could even get started, we already had a major story. Chris Harris Jr. was smoking hot from beyond the arc, to the tune of 4 treys and a game-high 16 points. De’vion Harmon finished in double figures with 10 points. Keyshawn Langley paced CP3 with 12 points, followed by Wendell Moore’s 10 points. CP3 would rally to finish the opening session 4-1.
Top 2019 Teams (Carolina Chaos Pic Missing)
There were a number of big games early on day one, including a match-up between All-Ohio Red and Team Rio National. The contest was very competitive, but Ohio led the entire way before claiming the 58-49 victory. Later in the day, All-Ohio would collect wins over Team Takeover (65-38), Academy Prep Hawks (60-51), Team Florida (72-58) and Upstate Elite (43-28).  If there were any doubts about All-Ohio’s chances of defending their title NYBL those doubts should have been erased after their performance in Session one, as All-Ohio looked like the team to beat. Team Rio bounced back after the All-Ohio loss and would finish the weekend 4-1, with wins over the Riverside Flyers (24-78), George Hill Rising Stars (56-22), Ohio Hoopsters (76-50) and Northern Kings (74-44).  Scottie Lewis was impressive all weekend and was featured in a couple of You Tube videos throwing down spectacular dunks and making athletic plays. This kid has high major written all over him!
Sidney Curry
New to the league this year is Mike Sanders’ George Hill Rising Stars team which is loaded
with elite talent. The Indiana-based team was welcomed to the NYBL with an early match-up with the hometown Team Takeover (formally ETU Select). This game was a barn burner from the tip and was contested until the clock showed zeros. In the end, George Hill began their NYBL campaign with a 44-42 victory over Takeover. Like a lot of teams over the weekend, George Hill would not leave town with an unblemished record, as they were later clipped by Team Rio (66-58). Later, Indiana enjoyed success over M.A.D.E. Elite (56-22), DC Assault (69-53) and Upstate Elite (66-51). 6’4 Sidney Curry is a new addition to the team and is already building his reputation in the league.

Just when it appeared that Texas Express had assumed the championship torch from CP3 earlier in the day, the South Carolina Hornets said “not so fast my friend!” Riding a 30-point explosion by Juwan Gary, the Hornets made an opening round statement with a stunning 68-55 victory over Texas. While Gary was making money in the post, Charles Jackson was torching the nets from deep, finishing with 5 triples and 15 points. Texas Express received balanced scoring from their guards with Tyreese Masey (17 pts), De’vion Harmon (16 pts) and Chris Harris Jr. (15 pts) all scoring in double figures. The Hornets solidified their place atop the league with a 5-0 finish in the

Brampton Warriors
Northern Invasion-The Canadians are Coming

As an example of just how successful the inaugural season of the NYBL was, the league added an international flavor in year two with the addition of 4 Canadian teams (Brampton Warriors 6th & 7th, Northern Kings & DC United).  For the record, our friends up north can play, as evidenced by the Brampton Warriors 4-1 run in DC. Led by super prospect Rowan Barrett Jr. (6’4 WF), Brampton demonstrated that team and individual fundamentals can still win games.  They are not all about trapping and pressing teams into submission, but rather using execution, passing and patient half court sets to get the job done. This team’s talent was on full display as the battled Team Takeover in the final game of the day On Sunday. That outcome of this game was in doubt until the closing seconds, as both teams were determined to end session one with a win. Team takeover was able to make a few more plays down the stretch to pull out a 50-51 win. Terrence Williams for Takeover and Rowan Barrett for Brampton were their team’s leading scorers with 21 points each. Guard play was crucial in this one, as Tyler Brelsford (8 pts) and Andrew Nembhard (9 pts) were the second leading scores for their respective squads. Did I say Barrett was the real deal? A quick review of the scorebooks indicates that Barrett averaged more than 20 points  in 5 games. He was a virtual unknown before the NYBL, but he now has an argument as the best player in the league, and possibly the class for that matter!

SC Hornets Sit at 5-0
The South Remains Strong

Last year the South division was clearly the most competitive division with heavyweights like Carolina Preps, Southern Stampede, SC Hornets, and Carolina Chaos. Different year, same situation, as the South is again leading the pack in terms of the league standings. Currently, 5 teams in the South Division are undefeated, with 2 additional teams with at least 3 wins. The true test will come when the South faces off against the North and East Divisions, as both divisions have very competitive teams. I had heard they were real good a couple of years ago, but Georgia’s Reach Higher Kings are still relevant with the acquisition of Chris Hinton who had previously run with the Southern Stampede last year in the NYBL.  Hinton brings size, rebounding and interior scoring to the table, and makes this team a legitimate contender. In a game against the Maryland Play Makers, Hinton dropped a nasty 29 points in the win. Team United is new to the league this year, and with big BJ Mack and Nicholas Emtimov in the post, the North Carolina-based team will cause problems for a lot of team.  Although Team United did not face the best the league has to offer this past weekend, 5-0 is still an impressive way to kick off an NYBL debut. A shout out goes to Mike Dobbins and his Carolina Chaos crew. Their lone loss over the weekend came at the hands of the Maryland Player Makers (38-37) who were “keeping the seat warm” for We All Can Go who could not make the trip this weekend. Evan Johnson is still counted on to get buckets for this team, and he delivered when he went for 19 against DC United in a 50-62 win. DC Assault’s John McGriff has been described as “special.” McGriff is a talented PG who is always in control of the offense and get get buckets. Poised and confident best described this dynamic floor general. The Northern Kings’ Isaiah Moseley made some noise in Session #1 and should be one of the better players in the league

I was presently surprised with the Lexington Hustle.  They entered the league without much fan fare, but what we found out this weekend is that they can hoop, and will be a tough out for a lot of teams. The 6th Man Warriors are big, and a 4-1 start says they are good again this year. Academy Prep Hawks are league rookies, but with 4 wins on the weekend, they have to feel good with where they sit in the standings.  Team Takeover had some monster matchups in DC, but their 3-2 record is a bit deceptive. They are good, and will upset some teams by the time it’s all said and done. Butler Elite’s 3-2 record does not tell the entire story. This team can play, and could be a sleeper by the time Columbus rolls around.

Morrow, Harris, Toles, Harmon, Ross, Walker, Dawson & Al--Amin
6th Grade Recap

The 6th grade division may be small in numbers, but there are some very talented teams and some big time players representing the class of 2020.  The best of the bunch, at least in the opening weekend, was the Oakland Soldiers. Powered by a hefty frontcourt, which includes the top player in the class in Shemar Morrow, a 6’2 phenom from northeast Ohio, the Soldiers went a perfect 5-0 in the nation’s capital. How good is this team? With Morrow, it’s going to take a lot to get a win. This kid can score at all three levels, is athletically gifted, can run the offense in a oinch , and is a big time rim protector. Case in point, during a dog fight with Team Takeover that required 2 over times to crown a winner, Morrow went for an eye popping 53 points to propel the Soldiers to a 77-71 win. Did I mention that Morrow is athletic? Would you describe a 6th grade throwing down a 2-handed dunk in transition as athletic! He did, and he is! Morrow is not the only kid on the team that can play; his new partner in crime is Kyree Walker who is always a big time threat when he gets it going.

Oakland Soldiers 
Any discussion about the top team in the division should include Mike Morris’ West Coast All-Stars. Having beaten the Soldiers in Portland last month, they have a legitimate claim to the title.  For the sake of full disclosure, Oakland was not privy to the services of Walker in Portland. Now back to the NYBL. The All Stars only defeat was a 55-67 loss to Team Takeover who was filling in for the Swish City Magic. The All Stars have a dominate big of their on with Jason Harris who returns to the league from last year when he ran with the 2019 Arizona Monsoon. Harris finished with a team-high 16 points in the loss.  Harris also added another 21 points in a 53-88 win over the Carolina Kings and 27 more in a 69-48 victory over CBC Elite. Speaking of the Kings, Hobby Ross’ 31 points against the All Stars has to be one of the best individual performances of the weekend, regardless of division! West Coast has great guard play with Parris Dawson and Tyrone Washington.  Both guards are fast, candle handle the rock and can score the ball  In a game against the World Wide Wildcats, Dawson was the man after a 24-point outburst.

DC Premier had a nice run that resulted in a 5-0 opening session record. The Banneker Kings took a couple of tough losses, but any time you have a top 5 kid on your roster you have a chance to win games.  The Kings have that with Jordan Toles who can get you 20+ points on the regular. Ask the Mansfield Cavs; Toles hit them for 20 for a 52-44 win. Another key match-up over the weekend pitted Toles' Banneker Kings and Zion Harmon's Team Glory.  This one was a good. The 2 elite players did not go head-to-head very often, but seining the on the same court at the same time was very intertwining! Check out Middle School Hoop's video for some perspective

One of the biggest surprises of the weekend in the 6th grade division was the competitiveness of the Ohio-based Mansfield Cavs, who not only collected more wins than expected, but also took some very good teams right down to the wire. One of those teams included Team Glory and a 42-41 win early on Saturday. Despite a monster 23-point game by Zion Harmon, the unknown Cavs gutted out the victory. Although Mansfield is a well-balanced team, Chance Mott appears to be the catalyst of the Cavs’ success.

There were a number of other noteworthy performances of the weekend, many of which were noted by the numerous scouting services who were in the house covering the event. Also, the buzz created by the standout performances in the league’s opening weekend has swept the country, and has created a significant amount of buzz and interest in the NYBL. Not only is all of middle school basketball paying attention to what’s happening in the league, more mainstream media and basketball fans have started to tune in. If the next 3 sessions are anything like what we saw in Washington DC, we are truly in for a special treat!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ohio Teams Prepare for NYBL

In year two of the National Youth Basketball League (NYBL), 5 Ohio-based teams will represent the Buckeye State in the league’s 2 divisions. All-Ohio Red, Ohio Basketball Club, Ohio Hoopsters Elite, Riverside Flyers and the Mansfield Cavs (6th grade) will all lace em up against the most elite teams in the country.  Only 2 Ohio teams participated in the elite league last year (All-Ohio & Murphy AC), with All-Ohio taking home the championship in the league’s inaugural season.

Modeled after Nike’s very popular Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL), the NYBL is a national middle school league that brings together the best teams in the country.  In terms of the level of competition, last year at the 6th grade AAU Nationals, 7 of the 8 teams that made it to the tournament’s Elite 8 all participated in the NYBL. Although a lot of teams profess to want to play the best competition they can fine, that’s not always the case. The 5 teams representing Ohio are participating in the league in order to compete at the highest level and to help develop their players and position them to play high school and college basketball.

In addition to the elite competition, the NYBL offers big time exposure, as many of the nation’s top scouting services attend the events. Once again, the Buckeye Prep Report is proud to be a founding sponsor of the NYBL. This year, the league has expanded from 24 to 32 teams in the 2019 division; has added a 2020 division, and has added a 4th session. Session 1 tips off this weekend in Washington DC; followed by session #2 in Atlanta, GA; session #3 in Louisville, KY; and session #4 here in Columbus, OH. For recaps of each session, continue to follow the Buckeye Prep Report and the official NYBL website ( Good luck to all of the Ohio teams as they represent the great state of Ohio!

Central Ohio Teams Claim Titles at Parker Bernard Tourney

Buckeye Prep 2021-Tournament Champions

This past Sunday, at least 2 Central Ohio teams claimed titles at the annual Parker Bernard Tournament in Dayton. In the 5th grade division, Coach Aaron Brown’s Buckeye Prep team defeated Salvation Army in the 33-36 in overtime to take first place.  Buckeye Prep’s win over Salvation Army represented a pay back, as Army was the winner in an earlier pool game by 2 points. In the semi-finals, Buckeye Prep took down Centerville Gold (40-28), while Salvation Army got by the Ohio Hoopsters in the quarter finals and the C4 Wolves a game later. The standout performers for Buckeye Prep were Patrick Daniels, Jr. and Jayden Hawkins-White.

In the 7th grade division, the Ohio Hoopsters outlasted Salvation Army 41-42 to bring home the gold. In the semi-finals, the Hoopsters defeated the Ohio Stars. Congratulations to both teams for a great run!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tier 1 Middle School Showcase Recap

Caleb McConnell, Justin Phillips II & Antwan Johnson
For the second year, Quincy Simpson and his staff hosted the Tier 1 Middle School Showcase at Lima Central Catholic High School in Lima on Sunday. This year, the 1-day event attracted approximately 190 players, and like year one, the event featured a number of young talented players. One of the best players I saw all day was Caleb McConnell (6’0 WF Dayton 2018), a long, highly skilled wing who can score at all three levels. McConnell can not only shoot from deep, he has a nice little midrange game and can get to the cup and finish. Phillips is super smooth, athletic, and is a great looking prospect with loads of potential. Darius Quisenberry (5’8 PG Springfield 2018) continues to develop as one of the top floor generals in the state.  Every time I see him play he seems to have gotten better. His play at this event reflected his continued progress.

I also really liked Justin Phillips II (5’9 PG Charleston, WVA 2018). Phillips is a strong lead guard who plays with poise, does a great job of finding open teammates and can hit the jumper if left open. Phillips has a high basketball IQ, makes few mistakes and does a god job of distributing the rock. Phillips also pushes the ball in transition and he has a nice little floater he can go to for a bucket. Antwuan Johnson (6”0 WG Dayton 2018), was a horse all day, as he bullied his way to the basket consistently. Johnson continues to develop perimeter skills and is more than able at handling the rock and scoring from the wing. I also plan to keep an eye on CJ Robinson (5’10 WG Toledo 2018) who has good length, athleticism and good upside potential.  Robinson is another long-term prospect worth watching.

Isaiah Kennedy, Da'san Clair & Montorie Foster
Montorie Foster (5’3 WG Cleveland 2019) was lighting it up from beyond the arc all day.  Foster has a great stroke and showed that he can consistently knock down the 3-ball. I did not get a chance to see him play, but word has it that Toledo’s Zeb Jackson (5’2 PG Toledo 2020) was ballin, despite playing up in the 7th grade division. I did not see a lot of him, but what I did see of Da’san Clair (5’5 PG Lima 2020) I liked! Clair is another well built guard who can score the ball. Isaiah Kennedy (5’5 PG Dayton 2020) had another nice outing. With good size for his position, Kennedy over powers most guards on his way to the cup.

As was the case last year, the event featured some really talented young guys. One such player was Sean Jones (4’9 PG Columbus 2022) who continues to impress this evaluator with his advanced skill set and mature game.  Jones has the ball on a string and he has a host of dribble moves that makes it almost impossible to stay in front of him. Jones is also good at creating his own shot and creating scoring opportunities for his teammates. It’s not all about beating his man off the bounce, as Jones can also get to the cup with regularity and can shoot the trey as well. I have seen Jones play on several occasions now and I absolutely love this kid’s game!
Sean Jones, Cameron Miles and John Mobley Jr.
He may be small, but Khail Luster (4’1 PG Lima 2020) gets it done at the point. Luster is quick, can really handle the rock and is always in attack mode while probing the defense for a lane to the basket. John Mobley Jr. (4’6 PG Reynoldsburg 2024) is only a second grader, but you would not know it from watching his game. This dynamic little PG has a big game and is unafraid to battle with kids 3-4 years older than him.  Because he is so highly skilled and confident, Mobley is very effective running the point and scoring in traffic. Much like his All-Ohio teammate Jones, Mobley can create his own offense. This kid has a very bright future with continued growth and development.

Other players to watch include: Devon Baker (5’10 WG Dayton 2018) Darron Taborn (5’5 PG 2020), Kayvon Sanders (5’9 WG 2018), Elijah Kimmons (5’2 WG Springfield 2020), Shane Jacobs (5’8 WG Toledo 2018), RaShad Craig (5’0 WG 2020), Jhaiden Wilson (4’8 WG 2021), Anthony Milner (4’1 PG Columbus 2021), Jadakis Mack (5’2 WG Lima 2020) and Dominique Cole (6’0 C Toledo 2020). There were a number of other standout performers, many of who are pictured below. All-in all, the Tier 1 Middle School Showcase was a competitive and well run event.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

OBC Wins Early Bird Super Showcase

OBC Wins Championship
Congratulations to OBC's 8th grade squad for going undefeated to claim the championship of the Early Bird Super Showcase in Clevland.  On their trek to the title, OBC defeated All-Ohio, Ohio Hoopsters and SMAC U.  In the championship game, OBC defeated SMAC U for a second time in the tournament 80-60.  OBC's 7th grade squad had a big day on Saturday, but after 4 starters were ill on Sunday and could not play, the team fell short if its goal of winning it all.

March Madness-Final Day Report

CP3 All-Stars & Team Rio Team Pictures
As promised, the final day of the 2014 March Madness tournament featured some juicy early-season clashes. Early on Sunday morning, I got my first look at CP3, as the faced off against a rugged Rens squad in the first 7th grade semi final game. As you would expect in any situation where the number one ranked team in the country is playing on the road in a hostile environment, the partisan crowd was in a frenzy early as Rens got out of the gates highly motivated and playing well. The game was tight early as Rens clearly was not intimidated by the much more heralded CP3. In fact, midway through the first half, the score was knotted at 14. With only seven minutes left in the opening period CP3 was only up 2 points (16-18). With 2:45 seconds left in the half, CP3 started to flex their muscles and extended the lead to 10 points (31-21). As evidenced by their blowout victory over the Metro Flyers in the quarterfinals, Rens plays with a lot of toughness and it was on display early as they battled the top rated team in the nation.

The closer Rens kept the score the more excited and vocal the partisan crowd became. Moreover, several times early in the game, things got a little chippy as Rens was determined to avenge an earlier loss to CP3 at the AAU Nationals last year. By half time, CP3 was up by more comfortable 39-23. The story of the first half was the 14 points logged in by Michael Green who drained 4 treys to lead the team with 14 halftime points. I wish I could say that Rens came back to make this game a close, but that was not the case, as CP3 would go on to collect a relatively easy win to advance the semi finals. Michael Green continued his hot shooting in the second half, finishing with a game-high 21 points. Behind him was Chaz Gweyn who added another 16 points.

In the second 7th grade semi final game, Team Rio hooked up with a scrappy CIA Bounce. As was the case the first semi-final game, the underdog CIA Bounce started the game playing well, and at the half, the game was tied at 18. As Team Rio's superior talent started to kick in, they eventually pulled away from CIA Bounce to claim the 39-56 victory and ticket to the championship game against the CP3 All-Stars.

When the schedule was released over a week ago, most fans assumed that CP3 and Team Rio would meet in the championship game of this tournament. Team Rio had already won multiple championships over the winter, while CP3 has only played in one tournament prior to this event. With an upgraded roster this year, including the addition of nationally ranked Scottie Lewis, Northeast basketball fans felt the team Rio had a legitimate chance to not only win in Scranton, but to win both an NYBL and AAU championship.  

Team Rio drew first blood with three-ball by AJ Hoggard. One possession later, a Michael Green trey tied the game at 3. Both teams opened up in the zone defenses and were methodical as they worked the ball around looking for an open shot. The start of the game reminded me of 2 prizefighters trying to feel each other out early before attempting knockout punches. By 9:52 Mark, CP3 was only up 7-6. A 7-0 run by CP3 at about 6:43 Mark put them up 15-8. Team Rio scored with five minutes 20 seconds left in the game to cut the lead to 11-15. By halftime, CP3 had extended their lead to about 17-28. Team Rio scored first to start the second half, and right about then, both teams started trading buckets for about the next two minutes. At the 9:16 Mark, CP3 was still comfortably ahead 36-25. About midway through the second half it started to appear as though CP3 was going to coast to an easy victory until Team Rio battled back late in the second half to close the deficit to 35-40 with three minutes left in the contest. Five points is as close as Rio would get however, as CP3 stepped on the gas and grabbed the championship and the $1000 American Express prize money by a final score of 49-39. The story of this game was the play Wendell More who grabbed a boat load of rebounds and took advantage of easy put backs.

Wendell Moore, Scottie Lewis & Michael Green
In the final analysis, the same things that made CP3 hard to beat last year will make them a tough out again this year as well. The team passes the ball extremely well; they enjoy excellent guard play and great rebounding and scoring in the post. At the end of the day, Wendell Moore was simply more productive in the paint, both offensively and defensively, than the Team Rio post players. Also, I was really impressed with the guard play of Kobe Langley, as well as the three-point marksmanship for Michael Green. Although Greene was more of a catch and shoot threat last year, his game appears to have developed and he's now putting the ball on the floor and either getting to the rack or driving in dishing. Green’s deep ball threat creates driving lanes for the wings and space for the bigs.

In terms of their game plan, CP3 did an excellent job of doubling and trip teaming Scottie Lewis, rendering him virtually ineffective offensively close to the bucket. Although Team Rio has good length in the post with Lewis and Bryan Antonio (6’1 PF Matawn, NJ), they simply don't have the bulk or the size necessary to rebound and score on a consistent basis with teams that have legitimate post players. Team Rio is a 6’5 post player away from being as good as any team in the country. Even with their shortcoming, when it's all said and done, they lost to the best team in the country by only two points, and Scottie Lewis did not have his best game offensively. With that said, Lewis was the ultimate rim protector as he blocked or altered numerous CP3 shots.

Qaadir Maneri, Andrew King & DJ Bailey
Sunday morning also featured a couple of very competitive six grade games. First up, Team Nation matched up with Team Izod. Although Team Nation jumped out to a 5-2 lead, Team Izod battled back to go ahead 10-8 with 1:40 a minute left in the first half. The score remained close throughout the first period as both teams were successfully knocking down shots. At the half, Team Nation was ahead 20-22. In the second half, Team Izod seized control of the game, a 31-23 lead with 7:43 left in the game. This game would eventually come down to the last possession. In fact, with only 22 seconds left, the game was tied at 38. A pair of Team Nation free throws with one second left on the clock put them ahead for good at 40-38. Qaadir Maneri (5’10 P/SG Bronx, NY) came up big for Team Nation to the tune of a game-high 15 points. Zion Bethia led Team Izod with 10 points.

Later that day in the 6th grade division, Ripp City and the New York Gauchos went at it. This game would be another close one. At the break, Ripp City was ahead 23-29.  The Gauchos would make a late run to cut the lead to 44-45 with 3:29 left in the game.  However, in the end, Ripp City was able to hold off the Gauchos by a final score of 48-49. The standout performers in the game for Ripp City were Andrew King, (6’4 C Coatesville, PA) and Deuce Turner (5’9 SG Coatesville, PA).  DJ Bailey (4’11 PG Bronx, NY) had another solid game for the Gauchos.

All-Ohio Red-5th Grade Champions
In the 5th grade division, All-Ohio Red advanced to the championship game with a lopsided victory over Philly United. The game was as close as 5-6 early in the first half, but eventually, All-Ohio would extend a 31-10 halftime lead to a 40-12 blowout win. With the win, All-Ohio, a 10th place finisher at the 2013 AAU Nationals, would faceoff against the 4th place New York Gauchos. I did not get a chance to watch the entire 5th grade championship, but I did note the fact that All-Ohio took a 21-42 lead into the half, and would go on to claim the title with a 62-50 win.  The difference in the game was the size of All-Ohio, both on the perimeter and in the post. Even before the game I questioned how the smaller Gauchos guards would defend the much bigger and stronger Seth Wilson, let alone who was going to try and contain Noah Peeples who had dominated in the paint the entire tournament. Bottom line, All-Ohio was simply to big for the Gauchos. Jaden Hameed had a breakout performance with a game-high 19 points. Noah Peeples had 14; Noah Rittinger added 11 and Seth Wilson finished with 10 points.

All-Ohio Red-4th Grade Champions
All-Ohio’s 4th grade team made the trip to Scranton and also enjoyed a lot of success over the weekend. The 4th grade championship game pitted the same two programs as the 5th grade championship game, and the younger Gauchos were determined to get payback for their 5th grade brothers. Early on, it looked like All-Ohio would run away with another easy victory, as they raced out to a 5-0 lead. However, the Gauchos would mount a 7-0 run to take 9-5 advantage.  Unlike the 5th graders, the Gauchos enjoyed a significant size advantage in the paint and they took full advantage of their size early. By the 5:40 mark, New York was rolling with a hefty 17-6 lead. All-Ohio responded with a run that would trim the lead to a more manageable 19-13. At the break, the Gauchos were only ahead by 5 points (23-18). Ohio got on the board first to start the second period (20-23). Later, a Derrick James trey pulled Ohio to within 1 point at 23-24, and All-Ohio regained the lead on a Shawn Jones’ trifecta. The lead would change hands several times before a 7-0 Ohio run would break New York’s back and give them a 40-34 lead. Final score: All-Ohio Red 45, the Gauchos 38. The come back was sparked by the outstanding play of Shawn Jones and Derrick James both of whom hit big shots at crucial times in the game. James finished with over 20 points, while Jones added another 7 points. Anthony Sellers was one of the leading scorers for the Gauchos.

New York Gauchos-6th Grade Champions
After a very competitive super pool, where the tp four teams in the 6th grade division took turns beating each other up, the last 2 teams standing for the championship game were Ripp City and the New York Gauchos. This appeared like it was going to be a blowout for the Gauchos as they raced out to an early 15-0 lead. Ripp City would eventually get their act together, but it was still 20-7 with only 5:25 left in the first half. The score still seemed out of hand at the break with New York up a comfortable 22-10. With such a big lead, the Gauchos got a little to casual, tried to run some time off the clock, and were already picking out sizes for the championship hoodies. Ripp City refused to pack it in, and after a furious comeback, forced overtime with the game tied at 39. The Gauchos would refocus in the extra period and claim a 45-49 win.

I have to send a shout out to ESPM for winning the 7th grade Silver division championship in dramatic form. With only about 7 seconds left in the game, ESPM got a steal and a layup as the clock expired. The final score was 32-34. Mike Renwrick (6’3 C Philly) scored a team-high 10 points to lead his team.  All-in all, there was some great talent at the top of each division, and this event gave a lot of teams some good early-season work.