From one coast to the other, Tennessee hoops took center stage in the final week of the live period. Over on the left coast the Memphis Hoopers were taking care of business at the Las Vegas Classic and on the right coast Team Thad closed the summer on a high note getting to the title game of the AAU Nationals in Orlando.
In the scorching sun of the desert the Memphis Hoopers, a group comprised of some unsigned seniors and a handful of underclassmen, took the heat by storm winning the silver bracket championship while finishing the weekend 7-1 with their only loss coming on a forfeit.
The Hoopers opened play with a solid 72-40 drubbing of the Danny Granger squad from New Mexico. Aston Morton (Whitehaven) led the scoring with 21 markers followed closely by Jaylon Smith (Sheffield) with 13, Desean Dockery (Ridgeway) with 12 and Kelvin Pruitt (MAHS) with 10.
The Hoopers were forced to forfeit their second pool game due to traffic issues and anyone who has ever played in Vegas knows of this problem.
Getting back on the winning track the Hoopers made short work of the Texas Tigers (78-72) behind 26 from Dockery. Smith added 15 in the win while rising sophomore Justin Benton (Houston) added 12 and rising senior Jamario Jones (Melrose) finished with his first double/double to the tune of 10 points and 17 boards.
Fastbreak Sports White from California was the next victim on the table for the Hoopers as they broke them down 76-61 behind 20 from Smith and 16 from Dockery. Morton added 10 and Jones concluded his second double/double with 10 markers and 10 caroms.
The Hoopers moved into the Elite Eight and made short work of the Greenline Basketball squad 65-59. Dockery led the scoring with 25 followed by Pruitt with 12. Jones added 10 in the win.
Final Four action saw the Hoopers blast the Southern California Takeover 70-51 behind a triple/double for Jones. The Melrose senior scored 18 points, snared 17 boards and dropped 10 dimes on the boys from Cali. Smith added 13 and Dockery 10 in the win.
In the title game, Morton came back strong scoring 18 points as the Hoopers took the 'ship 59-47 over Athletes Elite. Dockery and Smith scored 13 and 12 respectively.
On the opposite coast Team Thad put the finishing touches on a solid summer mowing through the competition before falling in the championship game of AAU Nationals to Team NLP.
Team Thad got on a fierce roll with wins over the Louisiana Ballers (61-45), Georgia Wizards (70-51), Ohio Hidden Gems (76-74), Boo Williams (68-28) and Team Work (59-57) before their title game loss.
Leron Black (White Station) as always was the talk of the tourney, the top ranked player in the state was a virtual double/double machine from start to finish. Chris Chiozza (White Station) found the climate in the Sunshine state to his liking, which is good considering he has committed to play for Florida. The quintessential lead guard was simply marvelous. Riley Norris (Alabama) continued to see his burgeoning stock rise with several big games in front of the right people. Coaches were quick to applaud the efforts of Ladarius Coleman (Craigmont) as his steady work helped lift Team Thad to the date in the title clash.