West Coast All-Stars-6th Grade champions
It took 3 days, but we finally got some very competitive games on the final day of the Gym Rats President’s Day Tournament in Portland. First up on Monday morning, the much anticipated showdown between the Oakland Soldiers and the San Diego Rebels; 2 of the best teams on the west coast. Both teams arrived in Portland with quality guard play and elite frontcourts. From the tip, the Soldiers drew first blood on a Fred Burton layup, but the Rebels responded with an old fashioned three point play by Jack Pugh to take a 3-2 lead. A 4-2 mini run put the Rebels up 7-4 at the 8:43 mark. Midway through the first half the game was tight, as both teams traded buckets. By the 6:15 mark, the Rebels had built a 15-10 lead. The Soldiers responded with a 4-0 run to trim the lead to 1 point (15-14) with 3:40 left in the half. Poor rebounding by the Soldiers allowed second chance opportunities for the Rebels, which they used to take a 22-18 lead into the half. Pugh led the Rebels with 7 halftime points while Shemar Morrow paced Oakland with 6 points.
Jack Pugh & Shemar Morrow
San Diego opened the second half with a trey to push their lead to 25-18. Later, a Morrow layup would draw Oakland to within 1 point (25-24) at the 9:45 mark. A 5-0 run by the Soldiers gave them their first lead (30-29) with 7:52 remaining in the game. The Rebels later retook a 31-30 lead with 7 minutes left, and from there, the lead would trade hands a couple of times before Oakland began to pull away as Shemar Morrow began to impact the game both offensively and defensively. When the Rebels were able to get off a highly contested shot without it getting rejected by Morrow, they were limited to just one shot as Morrow dominated the boards. The closet the score would get was 38-36 with 5:40 left. A key adjustment in game involved a double team of Alex Wade which effectively kept the ball out of his hands. The adjustment was crucial as Wade was having a lot of success penetrating and dishing. Denying him the ball spelled the beginning of the end for the Rebels, as Oakland would push the lead to 51-39 with only 3:31 remaining in the game, and later go on to claim a 64-50 victory. As expected, this game was very intense and was played at a high level. As their reward for the win, the Soldiers punched their ticket to the championship game, where they would face the West Coast All-Stars. Shemar Morrow was a monster defensively, while also finishing with a game-high 16 points. Jay Taylor stepped up big as well and added 12 points, while Fred Burton finished with 9 points for the Soldiers. The Rebels were led in scoring by Jack Pugh who finished with a team-high 14 points, while Obinna Agbo added 11 points. Although Wade did not lead the team in scoring, his quickness and understanding of the game was affecting the game early. In conclusion, it was a great game that featured a lot of individual talent.
Willis McClendon & Paris Dawson Paced the All-Stars
You just know a game is very important and is about to be a grudge match when the head coaches can’t even agree on which basketball to use before the game. Such was the case in the 6th grade championship game between the Oakland Soldiers and the West Coast All-stars. Both teams were locked and loaded with elite talent; the Soldiers with #1 ranked Shemar Morrow and West Coast with nationally ranked Jason Harris. Like most in attendance, I was looking forward to the matchup between Morrow and Harris, 2 of the top players in the country. West Coast got on the boards first with a Parris Dawson layup (2-0), but Oakland came right back with a score. The game was nip and tuck early, and Oakland went up 12-10 after a Devin Hightower jumper at the 4:46 mark. The game was still close with 1:30 left in the game, but the All-stars held a 2 point lead (18-16). By halftime, West Coast was up 22-17. Will McClendon was dialed in from beyond the ark, having drained 3 treys for 9 points. Devin Hightower was hot as well and finished the half with 7 points.
Parris Dawson drove to the basket again to start the second half and to extend the lead to 24-17. The Soldiers mounted a run that would cut the deficit to 3 points (23-26) at the 7:58 mark. With Dawson in attack mode, and McClendon still hot from the perimeter, West Coast found themselves comfortably ahead 34-26 with 5:48 remaining in the game. However, multiple turnovers and empty possessions by West Coast led to a 7-0 Oakland run that got them back in the game and trimmed the lead to only 2 points (34-32) with only 2:10 left in the contest. Despite their offensive woes late, West Coast was able to hold on and claim the championship by a score of 35-32. Will McClendon was the man for the all-Stars, finishing with a team-high 12 points, followed by Paris Dawson who added 9 points. Harris was sluggish early and finished with only 6 points. Shemar Morrow led Oakland with 12 points, followed by Hightower with 10 points. In terms of the matchup, the battle clearly goes to Morrow who was more productive offensively and successfully blocked many of Harris’ shot attempts. Harris was more of a defensive factor late, but Morrow owned the boards and protected the rim.
Celtic Family In Championship Game
In the semi-finals of the 7th grade bracket, the I10 Celtics Green cruised by the Yellow Jackets 62-43 to advance to the championship game against Hoop Salem. What was most impressive about that win was the fact that Keion Brooks and Dexter Shouse did not arrive to the game until the second half. By that time, the Celtics were up by 10 points (24-14). Makani Whiteside (5’11 SG/WF LA CA) had it going in the first half for the Celtics to the tune of 12 points. In the 7th grade championship game, The Celtics had little trouble getting by a much smaller and less athletic Hoop Salem team 67-57. Although the final margin of victory was only 10 points, the score was not indicative of the game. Dexter Shouse paced the Celtics with 11 points, followed by Whiteside who added 7 points. The top guys for Hoop Salem were Johan Downey (5’10 SG Silverton) and RJ Vadeliz (5’111 WF Woodburn). Look for the Celtics to take their show on the run this summer in the NYBL.
For the record, in the 8th grade championship game, the I10 Celtics Black defeated the Celtics Green team 62-50. Kiiwon Bradford (6’4 SG Sacramento) led the Black squad with 13 points. Big Adam Campus (6'3 C Hercules, OR) was the leading scorer for the Green team, finishing with a game-high 17 points.
5th Grade I10 Celtics Take Gold
The 5th grade championship game was a real barn burner, as the I10 Celtics faced off against Seattle Future Black. Although the Celtics got out of the gate quickly with a 10-0 lead, Seattle found their bearings and came racing back to tie the game at 10 by the 8:19 point. The rest of the game these 2 scrappy competitors traded buckets and leads before the Celtics eventually outlasted Seattle 56-46 to claim the crown. I was really impressed in the talent level in this came. Those little guys could ball! Also, a shout out to ARC for winning the 4th grade championship game with a win over the Seattle Stars.
ARC 4th Grade Champions
It was a long weekend that started slow in terms of competition, but by the time the horn sounded on Monday afternoon I had seen some of the top 6th and 7th grade teams on the west coast as well as some nationally ranked individual talent. It’s also always nice to see players from other parts of the country. Finally, To my Midwest and east coast followers, the “Left Coast” has some talent as well!