|Elijah Everett, Seth Wilson, RJ Davis Noah Peoples & Daniel Rodriquez|
As is the case with most AAU type-tournaments, day one is all about pool play blowouts as number 1 seeds dominated 4th seeded teams. However, Brian Klasky’s first year March Madness tournament in Scranton, PA featured a super pool in the 6th grade division that kicked off the tournament with some very competitive games.
Case in point, late on Saturday, Team Izod faced off with the New York Gauchos in what turned out to be an east coast grudge match. By the time I arrived at the court, the game was tight with the Gauchos up 29-27 in the first half. By the beginning of the second half, Izod had knotted the game at 29. From there, the Gauchos controlled most of the second period and was leading 48-41 when they decided to run some clock with a 7 point lead at about the 4:50 mark. Despite a Team Izod run late, the Gouaches would hang on to capture a 50-48 win. RJ Davis (5’1 P/SG White Plains, NY) was the high man for the Gauchos finishing with a game-high 19 points. Elijah Everett (6’4 C Orange, NJ) paced Team Izod with 11 points, while Zion Bethea (5’7 WF South Orange, NJ) added 10 points. Everett is a great looking post prospect with good length and the ability to defend and rebound. He’s lean, but with time, growth and continued development, Everett could develop into a legitimate DI post player.
It’s important to note that earlier in the day, Team Nation seized control of the 6th grade super pool with wins over the Gauchos and Team Izod to finish 2-0 on the day. Look for two of these 3 teams to make the finals late on Sunday. Also, the 7th grade Metro Flyers got a big opening day win. Daniel Rodriquez started strong as he paced the Flyers with 12 points. Of course all of the number 1 seeds (CP3, Team Rio, CIA Bounce, Rens) cruised to easy victories on Saturday.
Later in the day, I caught a good 5th grade game between All-Ohio Red and Chester Select. Although All-Ohio was much more talented at every position, the smaller but scrappy Chester squad gave them all they could handle for most of the game. In fact, Chester was leading most of the first half until All-Ohio mounted a 10-0 run to take 26-22 lead to close the first half. Early in the second period both teams traded buckets. However, about midway through the half All-Ohio started to extend the lead and never looked back. They would go on to win it 41-59. All-Ohio was lead in scoring by Noah Peeples (5’6 C Akron) who finished with a game-high 22 points, followed by Seth Wilson (5’4 PG Cleveland) who added 16 points and Trey Woodard who finished with 10 points.
All-Ohio is a well-constructed team with great guard play from Seth Wilson and Noah Rittinger (5’2 PG Charleston, WV) and solid post play from Peoples and Jaden Hameed (5’5 SG Northfield, OH). The team is blessed with skilled guys, size and athleticism. Wilson is the workhorse who is too big and strong for most guards, while Peoples is a wide body who already understands and embraces post play. Hameed is playing out of position in the post, but he gets it done because of his strength and aggressiveness.
Sunday’s bracket play action should include big time match-ups in the 7th grade division between heavyweights like CP3, Team Rio National, Rens and CIA Bounce. I’m very interested in seeing the additions to CP3 as well as the newly constructed Team Rio squad. If they meet in the finals, two of the best NYBL teams will represent the league.