Well, MML had another tournament wrap this weekend in Grand Rapids. While both teams had some exciting play, it was the 16u squad that stole the show making it all the way to the silver division finals before bowing out in a controversial double OT loss at the buzzer! It was a great way to cap off their summer and boost them toward high school success in the fall/winter. Summaries below of both teams’ tourneys:
The tournament started out pretty roughly on Friday afternoon with a mercy rule loss at the hands of a Parallel 45 team. Unlike their usual great effort, the energy seemed to have been lacking in the game and the coach let them know about it afterward. That would not be a problem the rest of the way. They gave everything they had in a game 2 loss to a much better-than-advertised Googs Gamers team, a high school team from Holland (that later turned in the biggest upset of the tournament). They hung in the game and battled the much larger team to the bitter end before losing 46-58. Kennedy Martin led the way with 13, followed closely by Dominic Reggio with 12. 8th grader Noah Baylis chipped in 5 as did Andrew Spak in the game.
The final pool game pitted us against MBA Local Saunders and again a huge height disparity. It just didn’t matter as our guys came out hitting on all cylinders and jumped out to a 19-2 lead. The game continued in much that same way throughout as we returned the favor that P45 did us to MBA by ending the game in mercy rule fashion, 55-22. Martin again led the way with 11, while Reggio, Demetrius Miller, freshman Azonte Burks, and Marlando Wade all tossed in 8 points a piece.
Bracket play began Saturday evening (after placing 3rd in the pool) with a game against Championship Sports Gold. Once again the scrappy bunch clawed their way to a 62-47 victory solidifying in their own minds that they did belong in the tournament with everyone else. While there were no individual stats kept in the game, the scoring load remained pretty balanced across several players. The semifinal game Sunday morning was against the Tri City Heat. In a defense struggle, we found enough points to win an ugly game 43-32, but winning ugly is what good teams do! Reggio led with 12 points, followed by Martin with 11, Spak 8, and Dominick Williams with 5.
In the finals against MBA Local Massey, the game was a back-and-forth seesaw battle. Regulation could not determine a winner. Overtime could not determine a winner. Finally, on a controversial basket at the buzzer (that was clearly after the buzzer), we fell 57-59, finishing 2nd place. I am not a huge proponent of moral victories, but this was a perfect example of a team coming together for a common goal and achieving more than many thought they could.
The older boys just couldn’t seem to get over the hump this weekend, though they played their guts out even in defeat.
Game 1 of the pool began on Thursday afternoon and pitted us against a very good West Michigan Flight team. Leading by two at the half, we let our guards down (literally) and allowed too many open shots in the second half. Combined with 20+ turnovers, it added up to a 57-72 loss. Austin Harless hit two treys en route to 14 points, Paris Partee had 11, Tyler Rose and Thomas Cook put in 8 points, while Savionn Boone and Devon Williams added 7 a piece. The second game was better versus Impact Elite, but the amount of turnovers remained the same and it cost us again in a 53-58 loss despite another two treys and 19 points from Harless. Ricky Holmes III and Partee both chipped in 10 points in defeat.
Before game 3 on Friday, Partee came up to me a promised a win. I should make him do that more often as that is exactly what happened on the floor versus Team Focus. Harless again had the deep range with 4 treys and 21 points. Partee knocked in 12 and had 15 rebounds. Rose sank all of his 9 points from deep as well. Holmes III added 7 (2 from a tomahawk jam), Boone 5, and Cook 4 in the victory, leading to a 2nd place pool finish and spot in the silver tournament bracket.
The bracket game on Saturday afternoon saw us face a much bigger Elite Nation Basketball team. Despite the size difference, the boys played as hard as I have seen them play maybe all spring/summer. They fought every screen and post up, while boxing out and chasing every rebound. On most occasions, that would’ve been enough to get the win…but not this day. In a second half drought where the ball just would not go in the basket, we surrendered the lead for good and lost 61-67. Once again, Harless led with 24 points (including 6 treys), Cook dropped in three trey balls of his own on his way to 12 points, Partee dropped in 6, and Holmes III 5.
It was a tough weekend, but also a learning one. We were blessed to have college coaches attend all of our games, which has not happened since 2012, so the guys were able to showcase their abilities in front of them in an effort to earn scholarships. This week marks the end of many of the guys’ AAU careers, so it is time to move on and make the most of it! See you in Fort Wayne!