Over in one of the hotbeds for high school hoops the Tennessee Tigers 17 and under squad were poised to make history.
The 2016 version of the Tigers came in to the nations longest running summer event The Eddie Ford Kentucky Hoop Fest having never tasted defeat.
The Tigers roared through pool play at 3-0 and survived a double overtime thriller with Garner Road in opening round bracket action. Garner Road is coached by current NBA player David West and based in North Carolina.
The Tigers came up a bit short in the title game but a three year run with a gaudy mark of 16-1, two Gold Division titles and three Gold Division championship game appearances is a feat that has never been matched at this event.
Leading the way for the Tigers the dynamic duo of Kenny Bunton (Walker Valley) and Ross Cummings (Creek Wood).
The duo led the Tigers in scoring all weekend and continued to impress in their final summer circuit run. Jarrell Reeves (Blackman) seemed to have his legs back under him as the high flyer made several crowd pleasing maneuvers and played solid defense all weekend for the Tigers.
Coaches lauded the efforts of DeQuan Summers (Hillwood) who played his best basketball of the entire open run. He was a tough defender and found open guys with his penetration and also found some time to hit some key buckets including a big three to send the semi-final win into the first overtime.
Cannon Campbell (Rossview) and Gabe Cummings (Creek Wood) played with their usual effort while newcomer Brad McCurdy (Bradley Central) appeared to be a nice fit for the Tigers with his ability to shoot the ball and play either guard spot.
Injuries limited some of the frontcourt success but not their effort. Matthew Norl (Kenwood) played solid minutes scoring key buckets and playing tough defense while Brad Allen (Greenbrier) also played hurt most of the weekend but had his most consistent effort of the summer playing while injured.
Over in the 16 and under division the Tennessee Tigers made a nice little statement cruising through pool play unblemished before losing in the Gold Bracket quarter-finals.
The 16U Tigers were led by the scoring of Nate Boyd (Tn. Christian Prep) who got the ball rolling with a 21 point effort in the opening pool play victory.
The Tigers are rich at the guard spots led by the scoring antics of Garrett Sanderson (Lipscomb Academy) and Gray Michael (Franklin Classical). Young Sanderson was solid on both ends of the floor while Michael, a Class of 2018 player, showed why he is among the top shooters in the state at any age group.
Contributions were numerous from the likes of Carter Campbell (Rossview), J'zayaih Lewis (Cane Ridge), Brennan Bailey (Ensworth), Gabe Reasor (BGA), C.J. Herbert (Home School) and Bryce Watts (Franklin Classical).
The young Tigers continue to be vertically challenged when facing some of these monster foes but the inside duo of newcomer Rasean Taylor (Clarksville) and Stacy Tindall (West Creek) brought hope and inspiration as they battled and continue to improve their overall effort.
Down in the 15 and under classification the Music City Heat started with a small pop going 2-1 in pool play.
In the lone pool play loss the Heat were beset by the injury bug when their best on ball defender Quinton Cross (Northeast) bumped heads with another player and was forced to sit out. Jaden Lewis (Summit) led the scoring against Team Teague with 20 in the narrow loss. The Heat also lost Mack James (Brentwood Academy) with an injury in the game. James was averaging around 13 per contest before his injury.
Justin Oden (Spring Hill) led the scoring in the opening bracket play contest against the Quinn Anvils with 19 followed closely by Kirkland Suratt (Loretto) with 16 markers.
The game of the weekend according to onlookers was the semi-final contest against the D1 Commits. Oden led the charge with 22 while Lewis pitched in with 21 as the Heat took the late lead before a pair of costly turnovers snatched the loss from the jaws of victory.
Jacayah Webster (Columbia Central) was sighted for his all around fabulous weekend. The rising sophomore averaged 12 points in bracket play and was a steady force all tournament long.
Staying in the Blue Grass state but moving over to the place called Lexington, the Tennessee Panthers 15 and under crew advanced to the title game of their age bracket at the Kentucky Basketball Academy Summit Event.
The Panthers fought hard through pool play falling 83-71 to the Illinois Future despite 13 markers from Malik Morgan (White House) and 12 from Damien Baugh (Cane Ridge).
Morgan had the hot hand with 28 while Baugh added 25 put it would prove to not be enough as the Panthers fell to the Kentucky Elite 78-74 in a tight one. Alec Kirby (Hendersonville) pitched in with 17 and Chase Danko (Lebanon) added 12 on four deep ones.
The Panthers were the fortune recipient of a forfeit to start bracket play thrusting them into a clash with the tournaments top seed Next Level from Louisville. The Panthers played their best basketball of the weekend dosing Next Level 89-54 behind 23 from Kirby, 16 from Morgan and 15 from Matt Mathiowdis (Station Camp). Max Younkin (Hillsboro) pitched in with 11 while Danko added 10 in the huge victory.
The win propelled the Panthers into the title game where they fell to the Lexington Future 85-68. Morgan led the scoring brigade with 19, Kirby added 14, Mathiowdis finished with11 and Baugh added 10.