2016 John Lucas All-Star Weekend - Day 2

March 6, 2016

Written by: Nick Milosevich (Top 100 Talent)

After an exciting Saturday to open John Lucas All-Star Weekend, Sunday would bring the tournament to a close with the knockout rounds. In the 14u division, the quarterfinals were perhaps the highlight of the event, with the four games being played simultaneously in front of huge crowds lining the courts. Texas Titans, after struggling for much of Saturday, finally found their rhythm thanks to the point guard play of Mike Miles. Miles scored at will and also found teammate Karson Stastny for a couple of long jumpers as they easily defeated Team KC by a final of 64-44.

Team Thad appeared to be in line for an upset victory over Select One, leading by as many as 12 points in the second half behind the superior inside play of Chris Moore. Team Thad was the only team in the tournament who could match Select One’s size in the frontcourt, and Moore outplayed the opposition, making many key plays on the offensive glass. However, point guard Zion Harmon would catch fire late in the second half for Select One, scoring over 20 points in the frame as they got past Team Thad for a 61-57 comeback win.

In a battle of Dallas-based programs, Supreme Court MWA took on D1 Premier in what appeared to be a close contest on paper. Supreme Court dominated the first half, getting great effort inside from big man GG Ezedinma and guard RJ Hampton. Ezedinma is a raw talent whose motor never stops, but went he went down with an injury in the second half, D1 closed the margin. Hampton would make enough plays late as Supreme Court held on for a 61-60 win.

In the biggest upset of the tournament, New England Playaz started off hot against God First and persevered for a hard-fought 64-61 win despite losing the lead on multiple occasions. Chris Edgehill was the talk of the MI3 Center as his fearless playmaking staked Playaz to an early 8-point lead. Kyree Walker did his best work around the rim as God First took control midway through the second half, but a concerted team effort gave Playaz the victory as they made more key plays down the stretch.

Select One used a run to start the second half to defeat Texas Titans in the semis, while New England Playaz got a bye after Supreme Court chose not to play due to minor injuries to several key players. In the 14u final, Select One jumped on the Playaz early behind the dominant post play of Cameron Byers, whose large frame overpowered the Playaz’ smaller front line. Zion Harmon had another solid performance, nailing outside jumpers and delivering several memorable assists. After Select One led by double digits at the half, the Playaz made a run to cut the lead to 7 points before Select One reasserted themselves and won by 19 to take home the 14u title. Select One looked like the favorites from the time they first stepped on the court Saturday evening, and withstood several tough challenges along the way to prove the best team in a loaded 2020 class at John Lucas All-Star Weekend.

The 13u final was a rematch of a pool play game on Saturday morning that pitted Carloina Wolves against West Coast Stars. The Wolves had dominated on Sunday, including a big semifinal win over SA Hardwork in which Jai Smith had an excellent performance on both ends of the floor around the basket. The Stars had come off a fantastic semifinal win over Team Teague in which Tyrone Washington and Ricardo Sarmiento were hot from three-point range. The Wolves won a close game in the first meeting, and the Stars came out hot looking for revenge, building an 8-point lead midway thru the second half. However, the Wolves would storm back and force overtime, and after no scoring in the first overtime period, things got wild at the end of the second. The Stars stole a pass at half court with 5 seconds remaining, and laid the ball in with two seconds on the clock. After a timeout, the Wolves threw the ball the length of the court, and the pass was tipped right to one of their players at the basket for an easy layin at the buzzer. The momentum of that play carried into the third OT period where the Wolves would capture the 13u crown.

The 12u final featured Gulf Coast Blue Chips against a 60 Elite squad who had exceeded expectations all weekend and has several 11 year-olds playing key minutes. GCBC had cruised to easy wins throughout the knockout round, while 60 Elite won in the final seconds over Flight Elite in the quarterfinals before getting a bye to the final after their semifinal opponent had to leave due to travel plans. GCBC would blow open a close game with a 16-0 run to end the first half behind the strong interior play of Kevin Garcia, who would score 29 points in the contest. 60 Elite showed tremendous heart in the second half as Dariq Whitehead led them to a stunning comeback to force overtime. GCBC, who received fantastic guard play from Derrian Ford and Cam Amboree throughout the tournament, would ultimately prevail in OT to take home the 12u title. The atmosphere at the MI3 Center was fantastic all weekend, and John Lucas All-Star Weekend brought out the best in some of the nation’s finest young basketball talent.

- @NickMilosevich