Teamwork, balance and unselfishness are virtues coveted by teams in every facet of sport. The Tennessee Travelers 15 and under squad commanded such a performance as they ascended to the title game of the Midwest Slam Jam in St. Louis over the weekend.
A put-back at the buzzer by the tourney host the St. Louis Eagles kept the Travs from the crown but their effort left no one unsure that this was a complete team effort. The Eagles soared away with the 51-50 effort.
The Travelers finished 2-0 in pool play behind some outstanding guard play from the likes of Will Adams (Science Hill) and Steadmon Ford (Notre Dame), both were especially tough on defense and able to control the tempo of the game. Brock Rowan (Stone Memorial) continued his best impersonation of a young Steve Kerr busting threes at a high rate of return. Asa Duvall (Brentwood Academy) brought his A game with the stakes at their highest, playing remarkably well in the semi-final and final game. D.J. Bowles (Notre Dame) was outstanding finishing at the rim and knocking down big jumpers at crucial options of the game.
Pool play success moved the Travs into the quarter-final round where they were again victorious. Kenny Dean (Alcoa) set the tempo with his defensive efforts and his critical work on the glass. Burton Sampson (Knoxville Webb) returned to line-up providing energy and David Morgan (Georgia) and Taylor Rhodes (Cleveland) gave quality minutes throughout the weekend.
Shannon Hale (Science Hill) was the team's go to scorer for the tourney and never failed to produce, including a 29 point effort in the semi-final victory. Hale was more than a scoring option showing improved effort on the glass and on the defensive end of the floor. Alex Fountain (Wartburg Central) was big on the defensive end of the floor blocking several shots and snatching important boards. Chance Bouldin (FRA) gave massive effort each and every time he entered the game for the Travelers.
In the 16 and under division the Tennessee Travelers finished 3-1 losing 63-59 to the Illinois Storm in the semi-final round of the Midwest Slam Jam.
The Travelers were unblemished in pool play relieving the St. Louis Pressure 78-62 then busting the St. Louis And/One 89-44 before capturing the St. Louis Raptors 69-45 to finish at 3-0.
Guard play was big for the Travs with Jaylen Allen (Science Hill) and Montrae Williams (Spring Hill) proving they are a formidable tandem with their inside and outside combination. Jack Montague (Brentwood) was lauded for his exceptional running of the team and Donya Burnette (Riverdale) also received praise for his efforts.
Inside the Travs were led by the outstanding play of Cory Nelson (Grace Baptist) and Malcolm St. Louis (Wilson Central), who proved to be exceptional on the boards in the event.