At the Crossroads
Saturday and Sunday action in Bloomington full of surprises and star performances.
Bracket play at the Adidas May Classic started to heat up on Saturday night and was sizzling by the time Sunday morning rolled around. Here are a few updates from the first two rounds of the playoffs in B-Town.
- Hometown Indiana Elite got bounced for the fifth straight tournament. Although they were missing three starters - 6-11 Andrew Drone, 6-9 Max Wagoner, and 6-4 Paul McRoberts - Baylor Basketball (St. Louis, MO) was able to get the job done in rather dominant fashion against the talented Elite squad. "Basically we knew if we stopped the big guys from getting to the basket we could control the game," explained head coach AJ Jones. "Our forward Darrell Johnson is physical, so he could control the inside game. Our guard play is at the top in the country and is underrated. Demetrius Floyd went off for 43 points and Trayvon Williams had 24. It was a lot of energy and teamwork that got us through the game."
- Keep an eye on Southwest Illinois Jets' 16U Malcolm Hill, a 6-4 offguard who posseses a quick first-step, smooth jumper, ability to handle and finish in traffic, and poised decision-making skills. Hill attends Belleville High School in Illinois and is 15 years old with a late birthday. If he turns up his competitive fire a bit on defense and when hitting the boards, watch out.
- Peoria Irish outlasted MBA Select, 79-73, in a double-overtime nail-biter. Alec Peters (Washington high school, IL) paced Peoria with 29 points while 2013 standout Demtris Jackson carried MBA with 24 points and a terrific defensive effort despite the loss.
- In a game that came down to the wire, both 16U No. 23 Indiana Elite South and the Michigan Mustangs had their flashes of brilliance. For the Mustangs, 5-11 lead guard D'Andre Johnson did everything he could at the offensive end to keep his squad in the contest; his feel for the game was uncanny, as he constantly put his teammates in position to score. Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Johnson's heady play was sharpshooter Steven Haney Jr., who knocked home threes with a quick release. Indiana Elite's trio of Mark Donnal, Franko Hollis, and Blake Simmons played well, but Johnson's savvy and uncanny passing saved the day, as he penetrated into the lane and hit a cutting teammate with five seconds on the clock for a wide open lay-in.
- Early in a match-up that pitted a supremely talented SYF team against Force, it looked as if SYF would run away with the contest. At around the 10-minute mark, however, the Forces' ultra-talented guard Junior Lomomba began to wake up and smell the coffee. The 6-5 combo guard's effort and determination to keep his team in the game were admirable, as he successfully read pick-and-roll situations, hit floaters, knocked down pull-ups from mid-range, got to the line, and passed unselfishly to teammates all over the floor. The Force took a brief lead in the second half, but at the nine-minute mark things began to go south fast. Lomomba tired out and SYF's balance, depth, and height were simply too much for them, as they ran away with the game and advanced to the third round.