It always brings a smile to my face when I hear the name of my old friend Wallace Prather. The patriarch of the Atlanta Celtics Basketball Program, Coach Prather exemplified what youth sports was all about!
The 2011 Wallace Prather Memorial Classic is an ongoing tribute to the man and what he stood for.
Team Nashville once again proved they belong with the big boys going 3-0 in pool play before falling to those same Celtics in the round of 8.
Team Nashville carmeloed the Columbus Knicks 79-66 behind 26 points from Corn "The Closer" Elder (Ensworth). Elder made this tournament his own private playground averaging around 25 per game and showing he can play with any guard regardless the amount of stars next to his name. Fred Yarbrough (Dyer County) pitched in with 16 and newcomer John Ross Glover (USJ) added 15.
Elder was at it again busting 27 markers as Team Nashville dunked the Dwight Howard Warriors 97-89. Devin Robinson (Ravenwood) chipped in with 19 points, while Glover added 16, as did rising junior Josh Phillips (PJPII).
Team Nashville completed pool-play unblemished besting the Smyrna Stars 68-48 with Elder scoring 17, Robinson adding 15 and Glover chipping in with 13.
Florida Assault was harpooned in the bracket play opener 105-63 behind 29 markers from sharp-shooting John Hudson (Dyer County). Elder added 27, Robinson had 14 and Glover added 13.
Elder and Robinson scored 22 and 18 respectively as Team Nashville moved into the Elite 8 and fell to the mighty Atlanta Celtics 74-65. Despite the outcome, Elder was the best guard on the floor bar none.
In the 16 and under division, the Nashville Celtics had quite a big time at the Wallace Prather finishing 5-1 and advancing to the Final 8. Josh Williams (Mississippi) was outstanding and drew a great deal of attention for his play. A.J. Merriweather (Southside) was lauded for his efforts on both ends of the floor and Vonn Bell (Chattanooga Central) did a nice job of keeping his team in their offense and playing hard on both ends of the court.
The Tennessee Chosen Few continue to improve as they play better each tournament against better competition. TCF finished in a tie in their pool but took the second seed on point differential and proceeded to win their first game out before losing to a very solid Arkansas Hawks squad.
Rashawn Avery (Notre Dame) had an outstanding tournament averaging around 14 per game including 16 markers against a tough Atlanta Express squad. Avery hit 11 three's on the weekend. Will Adams (Science Hill) and Dejon McGill (Austin East) do an outstanding job in the backcourt, controlling tempo and making things tough for their opposition. Newcomer Robert Moon (Bearden) was lauded for his defensive effort during the event.
Over in the 15 and under division the Memphis Thunder Elite got off to a rousing start winning their first two games easily including a 20 point victory over the Birmingham Ice. A couple of tough losses ended their weekend despite some solid performances from Marcanius Hines (Whitehaven), Tim Shaw (Memphis Central), Fatodd Lewis (Raleigh-Egypt) and Brandon Taylor (Raleigh-Egypt).
The Nashville Celtics finished their Wallace Prather experience with a spot in the Sweet 16 after finishing pool play 2-1. Marcus Graves (Ravenwood) continues to be a bright spot with his lead guard play and ability to make things happen for his teammates. Jalen Barford (Southside) proved to be a tough guard for his opposition, while Daniel Norl (Kenwood) was hitting from deep and Dyonta Brown (McGavock) was sighted for his solid efforts throughout the weekend.
The Tennessee Chosen Few had the unenviable position of finishing in a three-way tie in their pool play action only to end up with the 3rd seed due to point differential. That was maddening for the sheer fact the TCF ousted the heavy favorite Atlanta Celtics for one of their pool wins.
Imani Miller (Austin East) continues to prove he is a player to be reckoned with in the coming years, not backing down and playing his best in the Celtics victory. Zak Carter (Hardin Valley) and Justin Simmons (Stone Memorial) continue to bring a steady confidence each and every time they put on the uniform. Luke Matthews (Stone Memorial) was sighted for his shooting ability in the tough environment and the even tougher competition.