The Paul Champions continued their TBT winning streak with an opening round win in the bracket of 64 with a 78-74 victory over the Talladega Knights. After trailing 45-39 at halftime, the Champions made some minor adjustments according to head coach John Wallace who told his team that they needed to start looking to create their shots earlier in the shot clock and eliminate their turnovers.
The Champions were led by 13 year NBA veteran, Earl Boykins who scored 25 points and shot 8 of 9 from the free throw line continuing his dominance.
“He’s priceless. You can’t put a value on what a consummate pro, a seasoned vet brings to your team a sense of poise,” said Wallace on Boykins presence on their team. “He played the whole second half, he’s in great shape. And for a guy that small, he walks around like he’s seven feet tall and he has a presence like he’s seven feet tall and he’s playing like he’s seven feet tall too.”
Wallace would go onto add that they would need to make some adjustments for their matchup with the Untouchables saying, “We’ve just gotta rebound better. I don’t think we rebounded the ball well today. We gave up way too many offensive rebounds,” said Wallace. “Make a conscious effort to box out and get more defensive rebounds.”
The Untouchables appeared to be pushing the panic button early as they trailed 11-4 to start. However, head coach Tony Durant, older brother of Kevin Durant, made some minor adjustments and settled his team down. And just as it seemed that they were going to pull away with the lead, OPI didn’t let up as they made the first half a battle of back and fourth runs by both teams making this 16-1 matchup a very intriguing one.
Durant’s Untouchables opened up the floodgates in the second half as they pulled apart quickly going on a 20-7 run in the second half to lead 62-43. OPI tried to cut the lead several times but the Untouchables second half dominance was just too much.
The Untouchables had a well balanced attack from the scoring front as Kyle Hines had 14 points and 15 rebounds, Dewayne Jackson led all scorers with 20 points and Marcus Hatten and Ricky Harris both posted double-digit numbers as well.
The Morris twins had their work cut out for them early as the 13 seed from D.C. were giving them everything they got early as they controlled the lead for the majority of the first half.
Led by five threes and 48 percent shooting from the field, DC On Point controlled the lead at halftime, 38-35.
The story looked like it was going to be the same in the second half as DC came out on a 10-2 run as things were shaping out to be the first upset of the Northeast region. However, FOE wasn’t going to go down easy as they responded with an 18-4 run of their own and took the lead for the first time since the 7:18 mark in the first half. Maintaining their composure FOE was able to avoid the upset and win 80-75 behind the hot hand of Tyshawn Taylor.
Sideline Cancer opened up to an early 21-11 lead over the Zoo Crew with 62 percent shooting from the field. Though, the Zoo Crew recovered and remained in striking distance for most of the first half behind the hot shooting from Levance Fields. Field’s 20 first half points was enough to keep the Zoo Crew afloat but teammate Jesse Morgan’s 15 points was enough to help the Crew retain the lead at the end of the first half, 52-48.
The second half was the same story, another half of runs and little to no defense. However, the help just wasn’t their for Fields and despite his 35 point performance, the Zoo Crew couldn’t get the job done as Sideline Cancer led by Aaron Brown (25 points) and Duane Johnson (25 points) went onto win 100-87 and become the first upset of the Tournament.
“It feels good,” said Johnson about the upset win. “We didn’t feel like we were the underdogs. We felt like we’re very confident in the bunch we have. We felt good about the way we practiced a couple days ago, so we just gotta keep it going.”
The City of Gods elite 8 run last year isn’t going to be an easy job to mimic. The losses of DerMarr Johnson, James White, Pops Mensah Bonsu, Mike Sweetney, Xavier Silas and head coach Joe Connlley III are going to be hard shoes to fill for the Gods which is why they drew the sixth seed.
The losses of former players showed early for the Gods as chemistry problems and talent loss was showing and the Gaels took advantage jumping out to an early 19-7 lead. The Gods would recover cutting the lead to 5 at the half.
In the second half the Gods continued to play catch up. That was until the 8:30 mark where they took a 70-69 lead and the Gods didn’t stop there as they extended it to a 77-69 lead just two minutes later.
However, the Gaels just wouldn’t go away as both teams were trading baskets down to the wire, setting up another instant classic for the Tournament. Tied at 86 all under 10 seconds to go the Gaels sent Mardy Collins to the line and that appeared to be game. However, Collins missed both free throws giving the ball back to the Gaels Steven Britt who went coast to coast for the game winning layup.
As always Syracuse fans travel and they made Philadelphia University feel like the Carrier Dome and the electricity carried onto the court as the Orange jumped out to a quick 14-0 start. As emotions settled down the Orange continued to control the game and the tempo as they held onto a commanding 46-26 lead at halftime.
The second half started in a similar fashion as the Orange jumped out to an early 17-4 run extending their lead to 33 points, the highest scoring margin in the Tournament so far. DuBois tried to recover but the poor shooting and lack of transition defense wouldn’t be enough to stop the red hot Orange. Led by rookie TBTer, John Gillon with 26 points, the Orange would go onto win 99-66.
However, Gillon wasn’t impressed by the big win as he said that they have some things that they definitely need to work on.
“I did okay. I could’ve did a lot of things better,” said Gillon. “In games like this one, staying engaged is the most important thing. I missed a free throw. There’s just a lot of things that I could do better.”
“We gotta play harder and more serious. We gotta get on the boards. Against a team like that we should’ve pounded them on the boards. We did kind of but not to the extent where we should feel satisfied,” said Gillon.
After starting the game off hot, Supernova who was controlling the first half had a minor hiccup as the South Jamaica Kings found life towards the end of the first half as the two battled it out to a 40-32 Supernova halftime lead.
But a 12-2 run in the second half opened the lead back up for Supernova and they didn’t look back as they cruised to a 97-72 victory led by Maurice Sutton’s 16 points and Scott Reynolds’ 15 points.
With the longest tenured Sacramento King on their team, you would’ve thought that the Rider Alumni would’ve had the edge in this game. However, Fancy wasn’t worried or concerned about NBA experience as they were just worried about playing basketball.
And that’s what they did. Despite Thompson’s impressive double-double performance of 14 points and 18 rebounds, Delroy James and Shane Gibson led Fancy to a 74-64 victory as they both put up double digit numbers.