What a great weekend for the teams residing in the 16 and under pool that call Tennessee home.
The Tennessee Tigers head the list after playing inspired basketball and advancing to the championship game before falling by 2 to the powerful Wisconsin Playground Warriors.
Six of the seven participants advanced to the championship round finishing first or second in their respective pools.
The Tigers were in rare form over the weekend consistently making believers of their opponents with crisp execution and a dedication to teamwork that carried them into the title contest.
A big win over MemphisT23 started the proverbial bracket ball rolling and the Tigers followed this win up with victories over the Atlanta Knicks, the Atlanta Celtics, and the Gulf Coast Blue Chips before the Warriors defeat.
JaQuan Lewis (Dickson County) was truly unstoppable running the show and scoring when the need arose. His quickness and ability to penetrate any defense made it a fun tournament for the inside exploits of Kessler Bell (FRA), C.J. McEwen (Mt. Juliet) and Mason Ramsey (Livingston Academy).
Ramsey showed his versatility not only scoring on the physically overmatched inside kids but using his outside stroke to gather more buckets.
Lewis kept everyone involved and received excellent support from his backcourt mates Kevin Peterson (Marshall County), Bryce Copeland (Bradley Central), Gunnar Miller (Davidson Academy) and Austin Howard (Giles County).
The Memphis YOMCA also put on quite a showing finishing in the final eight before falling to the Tennessee nemesis the Wisconsin Playground Warriors.
Austin Nichols (Braircrest Christian) was outstanding putting up numbers, blocking shots, snatching rebounds and using his length to disrupt. Demetrius Dyson (Brighton), Laron Black (White Station), Markell Crawford (Melrose) and John Wilfong (MUS) made major contributions throughout the whole weekend.
Nourse Fox (MUS) made significant strides from the lead guard spot, growing his game as his confidence level rose. He found ways to score as he became more comfortable with his teammates and continued to be the playmaker for a very talented group of players.
The Nashville Celtics advanced to the championship round only to fall to; yes you guessed it, the dreaded Warriors from the Wisconsin Playground. The Celtics played determined and well behind the exploits of Josh Williams (Mississippi). His stock nationally is currently on a sharp incline as he dominated his opponents all weekend. Joey Barnes (Ravenwood) was mentioned for his outstanding work in the post and on the defensive side of the ball. In the backcourt Philip Roper (Cookeville) and Jamaal Calvin (McCallie) played very well for the Celtics.
The Memphis Select joined the fun and brought their bunch to a second place pool finish and a date in the championship bracket. Greg Pryor (Ridgeway) was the main man averaging a consistent 13 points for the event. Nathan Turner (Memphis Catholic) and Jalen Thompson (White Station) also made significant contributions for the Select.
Team Nashville added to the party also finishing 2-1 in pool play and moving into the championship bracket before falling to the Louisiana Bayou Flames. Darius Thompson (Blackman) and Matt Pond (Centennial) were consistent and provided majority of the scoring for the squad. Connor Hayes (Homeschool) was sighted for his contributions and Class of 2014 riser Jericho Williams (McGavock) played inspired ball the entire weekend.
A newcomer to the fray, the Memphis T23 squad backed by former Craigmont and current Piston star Terrico White, had quite an inaugural showing finishing 2-1 in pool action and moving into the championship bracket.
They ran into the Tigers buzzsaw but not before some outstanding performances from Kennedy McKinney (Germantown), who busted for 30 in one of the pool games, Jessie Pierce (MHEA), who was scoring at a high rate before an injury stopped his progress, Peyton Husley (Germantown), Donovan Sprawls (Braircrest Christian) and Kedron Moore (Southwind).
Will Adams (Science Hill) caught my eye with his play in a big pool play victory. The Tennessee Chosen Few were relegated to the consolation bracket but showed steady improvement as the new pieces of their team are merging together.
Menes Bailey (Austin East) caught fire from the outside on several occasions and Daijon McGill (Austin East) impressed with his ball-handling and ability to take people off the bounce. In the aforementioned contest McGill led the scoring with 2o markers and Bailey added 14 but it was the play of Adams that squashed a big comeback and his ability to control the tempo ended any hope the opponent had to pull this game out.