Another weekend down and another tournament completed. The MML teams travelled to Lansing to take on the competition this past weekend (which also happened to be my birthday weekend). Despite some challenges, both teams learned some valuable lessons through the experience:
The blue squad welcomed back their brother and prodigal son, Paris Partee, and were not disappointed with his return. Right from the start, he was all over the boards vacuuming in every rebound close to him. In an effort to possibly do too much though, some easy shot eluded him versus Hoop Grind in game one. Hoop Grind also knocked down 7 three pointers in the first half, jumping out to a 11 point lead in the first half. A recommitment to defense got the lead down to 4 at half. From there, Partee, Ricky Holmes III, and Tyler Rose led the second half charge to the 51-45 victory. Rose had 11, BJ Sims 10, Holmes 8, and Partee 6. Game 2 got off to a much better offensive start, but we were still in a jam until the defense turned up near the end of the first half. Rose scored 17, Trevor Bland 14 Partee 10, Austin Harless 7, and Thomas Cook 6 in the 68-50 blowout. It was a physical game where we showed great composure and resolve. Another step in growth to finish 1st in our pool for the first time this spring. Gold division play began Sunday morning with a game against Team Overlooked. Again, for the first time this spring, we came out with a focus to play well from the start. We jumped out to a 44-29 lead at the half. The second half saw us allow them to get back into the game a bit before re-establishing our dominance in a 65-44 win to advance to the semifinals. Partee dominated with 16, Cook 15, Bland and Harless 10, and Matt Buschman 6 in the victory. There is an old expression that says “all good things must come to an end” and we found that out the hard way in the final four game versus Triple Threat. Led by a couple future division 1 players, they jumped out to a 26-4 lead on 8 three point baskets. After that point, we played them relatively evenly, but that hole was too deep to dig out of with a running clock. Buschman led with 9 in his best game of the spring in the loss, while Partee and Holmes III added 7 in the 67-35 loss.
-Partee made a strong return to the family by grabbing every rebound in sight. That toughness was sorely missed.
-In the game versus Team Overlooked, Holmes III capped off the game with a right-handed tomahawk dunk near the end. It was our first dunk of the spring and can be found on youtube and our MML facebook page.
-Rose again had a strong tournament offensively and defensively.
-We have increased our win percentage in each tournament so far: 33%, 40%, 50%, then 75% in this one.
Unfortunately, for the White squad, they were pitted against two of the most athletic teams on the entire circuit in this one tournament. The first game against Team Overlooked was a back-and-forth battle of wills. Turnovers and execution flaws on the offensive end plagued the white squad in a tough 49-38 defeat. The second game versus Stackhouse Elite was a true example of playing against the trees. Few of the guys came out with the fire necessary to beat a team of that magnitude. From the sidelines, I watched the collective effort of the group and the attitude as well and noticed a lot of hanging heads early on in the loss. This leads me to believe that there is a lack of confidence among the group and I questioned if they were really a group at all? You have to go into each game believing that a) you can lose every game and b) that you can win every game. That attitude allows you to play with the healthy fear that you must play well not to lose, but also with the healthy confidence that if you play well you can beat anyone. This attitude HAS to be adapted by this team. There was a similar prevailing thought as I watched the third game versus Elite Nation. Clearly, they were better athletes than us, but they have no bigger hearts and we should not fear playing with our own. Honestly, while I was there I saw two of our guys, Devon Williams and Bobby Harrison, play with fire necessary in that game. That needs to spread throughout and it is all of our jobs to ensure that happens.
-The white team learned a valuable lesson in respect and decorum in practice this week because of an incident of insubordination at this tournament. One thing it is certain…it better not happen again, period.
-Despite playing with patellar tendinitis, Caleb Barkman showed some flashes of how he will significantly help this team. I am anxious to see how he does when he gets comfortable.
-Time to regroup…off to Kalamazoo!