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July 8, 2008

Adidas It Takes 5ive: Day three

CINCINNATI- Familiar surroundings proved to be important on the final day of the Adidas It Takes 5ive Tournament. The Ohio Basketball Club and All-Ohio dominated the action providing a clean sweep for Ohio teams in all three age groups. Highlighting the day was the much anticipated rematch at the 16 and under level between All-Ohio Red and D.C. Assault.

A Force to be reckoned with

When the brackets were revealed for the tournament not many people expected the All-Ohio Force to get out of pool play let alone win the entire tournament. After stunning the Atlanta Celtics on day one, the Force did not slow down. They showed that team play, good coaching, and structure can win on the circuit.

The story of the tournament for the Force was balanced scoring, and that is what did it for them in a 78-73 win over D.C. Assault. Leading the way for the Force was Ryan Siggins. The 6-foot-6 sharpshooter poured in 17 points, but he was far from the only member of the team in double figures.

University of Dayton commitment Matt Kavanaugh completed far and away the best tournament he has played this summer with a 14 point performance, and teammate Bill Edwards added 15 of his own. For Edwards it was the second consecutive game in the tournament that he played very well. In a semi final win over Full Package, Edwards was a man possessed scoring 24 points.

For Assault they were led by diminutive point guard Daryl Traynham. Traynham's quickness was a problem for the guards of the Force, and that allowed Traynham to really control the game at times. Also in double figures for D.C. Assault was Kansas State pledge Rodney McGruder.

Round two goes to All-Ohio

All-Ohio Red is not familiar with losing. The current group at the 16 and under level has lost only two games in their age group over the past two summers. One loss was to Ohio Basketball Club at the 2007 King James Shooting Stars Classic, a loss they avenged a week later, and the second was at the finals of this year's Pittsburgh Jam Fest. Finally on Tuesday afternoon they got another crack at D.C. Assault, and this time All-Ohio came out on top.

The game started out in a familiar way, All-Ohio feeding Jared Sullinger. Sullinger was able to oust muscle Joshua Hairston, and finished with relative ease down on the block.

With Sullinger having a mismatch offensively, Hairston had that same advantage when Assault had the ball. Hairston did a great job in the first half of facing up Sullinger and using his quickness off the dribble or when given room, he was able to nail the mid-range jumper in Sullinger's face.

The difference early on was the guard play. Tyler Thornton was really struggling to finish for Assault, and even though Eric Atkins was solid, it was the All-Ohio trio of Juwan Staten, Jordan Sibert, and Aaron Craft that were able to control the game.

Staten used his quickness to create of the bounce get to into the lane. From there he did a decent job of deciding when to pass, who to pass to, and when to shoot. When he did kick it out, Craft and Sibert were knocking down jumpers. Also for his part Sibert was finishing above the rim and did a little bit of his own work off the dribble.

With All-Ohio controlling on the perimeter they built up a double-digit lead midway through the second half. That is when D.C. Assault put on the full court press, and climbed back into the game.

Thornton got going a little bit, Atkins continued his strong play, and contributions from Ben Hazel, Cedrick Lindsay, and Maxie Esho were all instrumental in the comeback. At one point D.C. Assault was able to cut the big All-Ohio lead down to three with under two minutes to go.

Even with a huge run taking place against them, All-Ohio stayed tough and kept feeding Sullinger. Combining Sullinger's ability to finish at crunch time down low with contributions from Staten, J.D. Weatherspoon, and Adreian Payne, All-Ohio managed to hold on and win by the final of 79-74.

For the game Sullinger led All-Ohio with 18 points and nine boards. He was joined in double figures by Sibert and Staten with 15 a piece, and Weatherspoon with 13. D.C. Assault was led by Atkins who poured in 18 points, and Hairston added in 14 before fouling out late in the game.

In terms of sheer entertainment this was one of the best games of the summer so far. The players on both teams played hard and with a healthy rivalry between the two squads it was nice to a game in which both teams had pride and absolutely dreaded the thought of losing.

Behanan slams home a title

At the 15 and under level, the Ohio Basketball Club has now won the last two tournaments that they have entered. First at the end of May it was a win at the Tournament of Champions, and they followed it up with this title in Cincinnati.

The biggest reason for the championship was the play of 6-foot-6 and 230 pound man child Chane Behanan. In the semi finals against All-Ohio Red, Behanan scored 30 points. 24 of those points came in the second half when OBC rallied from a deficit to cruise home with a double digit win. Of those 24 points, no less than 18 of them came on dunks.

Behanan continued his dunking display in the finals when paired with the Michigan Mustangs. With an unmatched combination of strength and athleticism in the age group, Behanan was too much for the Mustangs talented frontline that includes LaDontae Henton and Percy Gibson.

Behanan was too big for Henton and too quick for Gibson. That allowed him to explode around the rim and hold his own personal dunk contest. Like he did in the semi finals, Behanan finished with 30 points in the finals.

Also playing well for OBC was Stevie Taylor. The point guard from Columbus controlled the flow of the game and made smart decisions to get the ball to Behanan in the right spots.

From the notepad

While Derrick Favors gets most of the attention, and deservedly so, for the Atlanta Celtics, two of his teammates have really stepped up their games recently. Auburn commitments Robert Chubb and Andre Malone were excellent all tournament long. Malone has good size for a wing, can shoot the three, and is very athletic. Also he showed the ability to play some lock down defense. Chubb has been shooting the ball well for a big guy, rebounding, and just doing all of the little things to help the Celtics win.

Playing with Texas Select, big man B.J. West really had a solid performance in an afternoon game against Hoop Planet. West, who is a legit 6-foot-8, showed an ability to hit the 18 foot jumper. Also he put his size and athleticism to good use on the boards, and in more spectacular fashion by posterizing a Hoop Planet defender.

Though the Michigan Mustangs 15 and under team came up short in the finals, their wing duo has a lot of potential. Brandan Kearney is 6-foot-4 already with good athleticism and an uncanny ability to pass the ball. With Kearney's developing point guard skills and a nice looking outside shot, he really impressed all tournament long.

Joining Kearney was teammate Matt Poches. In the Mustangs semi final win over the Atlanta Celtics, Poches was a scoring machine.

Offers are beginning to flow for Sibert. The breakout performer from All-Ohio has picked up offers from Tennessee and Cincinnati since the start of the weekend, and more will be on the way in the coming days.

School Lists

Atkins mentioned that he is hearing from Virginia Tech, Texas, Georgetown, Maryland, and Wake Forest.

Christian Watford participated with the Atlanta Celtics in Cincinnati and noted that he is hearing from Louisville, Memphis, Kentucky, Alabama, and Indiana.

Florida Rams guard Freddie Riley rattled off a long school list consisting of Virginia Tech, Massachusetts, Clemson, Alabama, South Florida, Virginia Commonwealth, Central Florida, Florida State, Florida, Cincinnati, Memphis, Xavier, Kansas State, and Baylor.

West, who will be headed to prep school, said that he is hearing from Georgia, Ole Miss, USC, UTEP, Tulane, LSU, and Marquette.


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