Always one of my favorite events of the summer campaign, the 14 and under state tournament brings the next crop of high school players to one gym and gives us a nice peek at what is in store for us for the next four years of hoops in our state.
We spoke to the coaches and even the players to determine what high schools some of the kids will be attending in the fall, most already knew but some players did not and for those we will put (???) to distinguish this till we actually find out. Also keep in mind the schools can and will most likely change so know that going in.
Braxton Blackwell (???) dropped 29 points and Parker Howell (CPA) added 21 as the Select dodged a big 38 point outburst from Keelon Lawson (???) and held on for a 89-85 win over the mighty Memphis YOMCA and the right to be called champions of the 14 and under state tournament held in Alcoa this past weekend.
Blackwell was outstanding from the jump, scoring mostly in transition and finishing with either hand at the rim. He has outstanding size and will be one of the top players in the Class of 2015.
Nick Smith (White Station) had the YOMCA off to the races out of the gate scoring their first 10 points and keeping the score close until some tough scoring chances from Justin Jenkins (Knoxville Webb) and James McPherson (Brentwood) moved the Select in front before the half.
The Select held a 50-43 lead at the half and increased that total to 11 after the end of the third quarter before Lawson put on a scoring display that brought the Y to within four late in the game.
Howell and Wade Eldridge (Livingston Academy) scored big buckets late to keep the Select in front for the final margin of victory.
McPherson finished with 15 for the Select. Terrence Birdsong (???) added 18 for the YOMCA and Smith finished with 14 in the loss.
In the 3rd and 4th place game, the Nashville Celtics got past the War Eagles 62-61 to capture 3rd in the state. Marable led the Celtics with 14 points. DeShaun Douthard (Cane Ridge) finished with 11 and Upton landed on 10. Jerry Hurt led all scorers with 18 in the loss. Mitchell added 11 and Naba Echols (???) ended with 10.
Jorden Bowden (Carter) scored 18 points leading the TCF past the East Tennessee Copperheads for 5th place in the state. Malik McGee (Science Hill) led all scorers with 22 points in the loss.
Windell Graham (Brainerd) scored 18 points as the Chatt-Town Elite finished with a 7th place spot with a win over the Tennessee Thunder. Brenden Teeter (Alcoa) led all scorers with 22 points for the Thunder.
The path to the finals was a tough ride for the Select starting with a big 72-70 victory over the Memphis War Eagles in the opening pool play game. Taylor Vanderbilt (Smyrna) nailed a huge three late in the game to push the Select to the win. Vanderbilt lead the scoring with 18 points followed by Kyle Phillips (Hillsboro) with 14, Howell with 13 and Blackwell with 12. Skal Lobiessiere (ECS) led the War Eagles with 24 points and Jerry Hurt (Memphis Overton) added 20 in the loss.
The going got easier with a 71-35 win over the Tennessee Thunder. Phillips led a balanced attack with 12 markers. Jenkins and Blackwell added 11, while McPherson and Vanderbilt finished with 10 apiece. Joel Graham (William Blount) led the Thunder with 7 points.
92-63 was the margin as the Select bested the Tennessee Chosen Few to wrap up a 3-0 mark in pool play. Howell was tops with 17 points, while Vanderbilt and Blackwell finished with 15 each. Eldridge added 13 and McPherson finished with 11 for the Select.
Kelvin Jackson (Gibbs) led TCF with 16 markers followed by Durell Middleton (Austin East) with 13 and Jacques Bruce (Fulton) with 10.
In the semi-finals, the Select played some of their best basketball of the weekend scoring a resounding 73-39 win over the Nashville Celtics. Blackwell and Jenkins led the scoring with 13 points, while McPherson added 12 and Howell finished with 10 markers. T.J. Steward (Siegel) led the Celtics with 10 points.
For the YOMCA pool play was an easier time starting with a 75-49 victory over the East Tennessee Copperheads. Alandius Delk (Haywood County) and Kyler Douglas (Haywood County) scored 18 and 14 respectively to lead the YOMCA. Rashad Harrington (Science Hill) led the Copperheads with 22 points followed closely by Jaron Parks (Science Hill) with 12.
An 80-61 win over the Chatt-Town Elite brought them to 2-0 behind 12 points from Delk and Lawson. Birdsong and Donte Fitzpatrick (???) finished with 10 points apiece. Marquis Tipton (Brainerd) led Chatt-Town with 15. Calvin Davenport (Ooltewah) added 10 in the loss.
The showcase game of the pool play Saturday turned out to be the YOMCA 83-74 win over the Nashville Celtics. Both teams came into the final pool game unbeaten and looking for a spot in the title game.
Nick Smith was huge for the YOMCA dropping 23 points and Keelon Lawson added 21 in the win. Julian Crutchfield (Lebanon) led the Celtics with 16 points. Also scoring double digits for the Celtics were J.T. Marable (Pearl Cohn) with 14, Ricky Dunnaway (Oakland) and Chase Hawkins (Brentwood) both with 11 and Isiah Upton (East Literature) with 10.
Tomorrow we will select the 25 most impressive youngsters from the 14 and under state tournament with a small write-up for each players.