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July 26, 2008
Las Vegas: Day Five
LAS VEGAS -- The race around Sin City is over. After five days of exciting action at three tournaments, the non-stop action of grassroots basketball is in the books. Grassroots Canada had to go to two overtimes to win the adidas Super 64.
There might not be a better way to end the week's event than a double overtime thriller to decide the championship at the adidas Super 64 tournament.
Grassroots Canada had to fight tooth and nail to claim an 88-79 victory and championship title against Compton Magic on Saturday night. Tristan Thompson and Jason Calliste combined for 15 of their team's 20 overtime points to earn the coveted trophy.
If there was one thing the gym learned it is that Thompson is a cool customer at the foul line. He sunk 15 of 22 freebies, eight in the in extra periods.
Calliste may have been the biggest stock booster guard in the entire adidas Super 64 field this week. He proved himself as a valuable scorer and tough customer in the backcourt.
"Coach just always told us to never give up," Thompson said. "We had to stay strong in every game."
That had been the motto all tournament long for the Grassroots squad. No game was an easy game and several matches went into an overtime period.
Calliste used a cross-over dribble to a step back three several times was a deadly weapon. His ball-handling frustrated Roberto Nelson all game and Calliste got the better of the Rivals150 guard. Calliste finished with 29 points. Junior Cadougan capped off his week with a 22 point performance in the championship game.
Compton stayed strong throughout, thanks in large part to the scoring punch of Roberto Nelson, who hit a key three-pointer with eight seconds left to play to send the game into overtime.
Nelson had no reason to hang his head at the game's end. He scored a team high 26 points in the defeat and made big shots to keep the game close.
Forward Joe Burton added 23 points and was a beast on the glass and as a passer. He made several hustle plays, including diving for a ball and making a halfcourt pass while lying on the floor on his back.
On the first day of the Reebok Summer Championships, the eight top seeds opened the event with the Create and Finish Cup. The mini tournament paired up some of the top players and top teams against each other.
The result? Kenny Boynton put on a show against Avery Bradley. John Wall lived up to the hype against Mfon Udofia. On Saturday in the quarterfinals, the four teams and top players were paired up for the sequel.
If there was one thing we learned about John Wall this week in Las Vegas it is this. He's the number one player in the country in the class of 2009.
And it is not even close.
Wall is putting all of the tricks of the trade is his bag of weapons. He knows how to draw the foul and score because of his yoga instructor like body control. He can take his pick on how he can kill off an opponent. He could score 40 if he wanted to. Or he could hand out 15 assists. Or sometimes, like on Saturday morning, he can go for 26 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
Either way, Wall's versatility is impossible to guard. He is an assassin. His play has been fantastic all week.
Worldwide wasn't going to make it an easy win for D-One. The Atlanta area team took the game to an extra period. Thanks to the big three of Richard Howell, Ari Stewart and Mfon Udofia,
Howell owned the paint against D-One Sports and five-star Ryan Kelly. The Georgian scored 16 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. Stewart had a great showing, pumping in 21 points and five rebounds. Both guys enjoyed a stellar week of play at the Reebok event.
There has never been any question marks about the level of competitiveness that Worldwide Renegades guard Mfon Udofia performs at. Under four minutes to play, his energy level helped spark his teammates in an important run that cut the lead to one with three minutes to play and then to a lead with a minute and a half.
He was a monster on the boards (eight total in the game) and he was credited for three assists in the victory.
It was Brandon Knight's turn to get a piece of the pie. After watching Boynton put his stamp on the Reebok tournament in the first match-up against the Panthers, Knight tapped into his afterburners and blazed his way up and down the court in the rematch during the quarterfinals.
The class of 2010 stud scored 25 points and sparked the blowout win over the Panthers. Knight had his way against one of the best defensive backcourts in the tournament.
Like Boynton did in the first match-up, Knight did whatever he wanted to on the offensive end of the floor. The five-star guard scored with both hands going hard to the basket. His shot was dropping and his confidence was soaring.
Boynton, who scored 33 in the first go round, was rather quiet. He finished with 12 points.
Bradley struggled against the kids from south Florida. He finished with 12 points but did have an amazing and incredibly athletic block on a Boynton dunk attempt in the open floor.
Abdul Gaddy scored 16 points in the defeat.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
When it comes to playing deep into tournaments, few teams have been better at it than the D.C. Assault 16 and under program. Once again, the Assault found a way to move on and play for a championship.
It took a big comeback and patience but the Assault kids overcame a 15-point deficit to claim a 78-74 win over the Playaz.
The secret to the Assault's success is balance and teamwork. That was the recipe for success once again. Paced by the production of guards Erik Atkins,
Cedrick Lindsay and Tyler Thornton, the Assault made a brave comeback and owned the overtime period.
Atkins scored 18 points and had about six assists in the win. Lindsay scored 18 points. Thornton scored 13 points and eight rebounds. He was a difference maker when it mattered, drilling free throws and grabbing rebounds in the extra three minutes of play.
Big man Josh Hairston scored 18 points in the win, too, and had some big time turn around hook and face up jumpers for scores.
D.C. Assault went on to win the 16 and under division of the adidas Super 64, beating New Heights out of New York for the title.
Truth be told, the best point guard in this game was Isaiah Epps of the Playaz. The New Jersey native scored 23 points, handed out several assists and played like a warrior until the final buzzer.
The Rivals100 guard plays with a great understanding and with a "I've been here before, this is no big deal" kind of approach. Epps is a no-brainer high-major point guard in point guard heavy 2010 class.
Teammate Cameron Ayers pumped in 18 points in the victory.
Class of 2011 Quddus Bello put on a show with his top-flight athleticism. It could be easy to confuse him with Wall, too. That's the kind of bounce that Wall works with. Bello's athleticism led to 14 rebounds and three highlight reel dunks.
Houston Elite advanced to the final four at Reebok thanks in large part to the hot shooting of rising junior Kevin Williams from Pearland (Texas) High School.
Williams, a 6-foot-2 combo, got hot from deep, hitting four three-pointers and led Houston Elite with 20 points in a quarterfinal win over Upstate Basketball.
William's recruitment is at it's infancy right now. He said he's heard from Arizona State, Stephen F. Austin, Texas-Arlington and Texas.
NOTES FROM THE NOTEPAD
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