The atmosphere was intense; the mood was cautious but exciting as Team Nashville got ready for their championship game against the powerful Garner Road squad at the 19th annual Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions in Sewanee Georgia.
Team Nashville had made waves throughout the circuit with their efforts in Sewanee. Three mercy rule games including a 30 point win over the Worldwide Renegades had everyone's attention especially the cavalcade of coaches seated along the baseline as the boys from Music City started their warm-ups for the title contest.
A 51-30 drubbing of the traditionally tough Birmingham Ice in the semi-final game only seemed to enhance the confidence of this group. Corn Elder (Ensworth) led Team Nashville with 14 points in the semi-finals followed closely by Asa Duvall (Brentwood) with 11 and Jamonte Graham (Father Ryan) with 10.
As the game tipped it did not take long to see who wanted it more and when Ivan Alsup (Nashville Overton) and Matt Pond (Centennial) canned back to back threes moving the advantage to 26-12 the attending crowd could sense the route was on.
A 41-27 halftime advantage only got larger as Duvall got nasty hot from the bent line draining four in a row and leaving the opponents wishing they had not met up with this particular buzz saw.
When the final bell tolled Team Nashville had their 67-45 mercy rule victory and would be crowned champions of the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions event.
Duvall took scoring honors with 15 markers while Darius Thompson (Blackman) played inspired hoops to the score of 14 points. Pond would finish with 10 on the night.
Elder, who was simply marvelous throughout the event on both ends of the floor, was crowned the MVP.
Josh Phillips (PJPII) also secured a spot on the glitter squad with his yeoman work on the boards and on the block.
The guard play for Team Nashville was simply outstanding. Elder, Graham, Duvall and Alsup were nasty defenders creating havoc in the pressing game and defending the ball like someone was attempting to take something that belonged to them.
Elder had several double digit steal efforts and took the battle to heart with his match-up against several of the highly rated guards he manhandled over the weekend.
Graham was a stud on both ends using his size to make life difficult for the opposing ball handler and knifing through the defense for strong finishes at the bucket.
Duvall got hot on several occasions from deep and Alsup was solid using the dribble to score and keep the tempo of the game in the favor of his guys.
Phillips did work on the interior, while Pond saved his best effort for the title game.
Thompson scored, assisted, rebounded and did everything to help this team snatch this title.
Trent McLaurin (Kenwood) provided valuable minutes off the bench inside and newcomer Kip Owens (ECS) battled like a warrior on the interior, diving for loose balls, tipping rebounds and playing with effort as he becomes part of this team.
Team Nashville, who also tasted championship victory last weekend in Kentucky, remains unblemished on the young summer season.