HAMPTON, Va. - The 17 and under division of the Boo Williams Invitational went right down to the wire and the tournament's best performer jumped at the chance to be the hero in the final seconds of a classic.
Boo claims the 17U championship
It was one of those weekends where everything went right for Ed Davis. And when it mattered, the tournament's most outstanding player was called upon and absolutely delivered.
With 2.6 seconds left to play and down 48-47 to Chicago's Mean Streets club, Boo Williams had the ball under the basket on the right side. Coming out of a timeout, freshman point guard Kendal Marshall found Davis.
From there, and in a quick instant, he went to the opposite side of the floor, his favorite left side of the basket, and scored a difficult shot with defenders hanging on him. Marshall was able to draw the foul and put Boo Williams up 49-48.
He missed the free throw, but the second left on the clock didn't matter. Davis's big bucket kept the championship at home for the eighth straight year.
Despite his 12 points (4-7 FG), eight rebounds, five blocked shots, three assists and outstanding play all weekend, Davis was quick to credit his teammates after the game.
"I think it was (a good weekend) because we won the tournament and that was out goal coming into this," Davis, who wanted to play Mean Streets from the outset, said. "We had to get some payback with them from when we lost to them at the Peach Jam last year."
Davis never saw Kevin Durant do his thing at the BWSI two years ago. However, the two had equally impressive performances here in Hampton. Davis capped off a tremendous week with a championship and one heck of a boost of momentum to close out the April evaluation period.
Davis never does it alone. He had help in the championship game. He needed some as his 12 points were a tournament low for him. Marshall, one of the best point guards in the field as a freshman, added eight points and key plays in the clutch.
Andrey Semenov, a 6-foot-7 wing from Notre Dame Academy, put in 10 points to help the cause. The versatile import blended in well with the loaded Boo Williams roster and impacted the game with his energy and high basketball IQ.
The kid they call "Boogaloo", Reggie Johnson absolutely enjoyed every minute of his team on the big stage. He came off the bench and spelled another North Carolina mate Ty Walker and provided a major presence inside. Johnson used his big body to bang for boards and thunder home some tough buckets.
Mean Streets had a lead as big as 10 points at one point thanks to great team play and a pressure defense that forced Boo Williams to reconsider the game plan. Point guard Kevin Dillard was outstanding all week long with his dagger-in-the-heart shooting, incredible speed and ball-handling that just could not be pressured.
Dillard, a 5-foot-8 junior, was fearless against a frontline that featured three huge post presences and blocked more shots as a trio than any other in the tournament. Dillard finished with 12 points but had a hard time getting his perimeter shot to drop.
He should be proud of the way he played in Hampton as he never let up and stepped up to every challenge thrown at him. It will be interesting to see how much his recruitment changes this spring. Dillard is a guy that will have some programs asking some tough questions about whether or not he can help them. A start like he had against some big time teams at the BWSI may help answer that.
Dillard did a great job of finding big man Michael Dunigan, who was good in his own right, in the post. The 6-foot-10 center had eight points and converted most of his shots at close range despite the hands in his face and the physical style that was allowed to be played.
BABC claims the 16U championship
With Connecticut commitments Alex Oriakhi and Jamal Coombs on the BABC roster, don't assume it is their show. That is far from the case. The duo did damage, make no mistake about that, as they combined for 21 points in the 64-58 win over the Playaz Basketball Club.
The real story of the game was the play of Daryl Bishop and Ron Giplaye.
Bishop, a 6-foot-4 workhorse played like a middle linebacker and was as pretty of a player as Kenny Mayne was a dancer on Dancing with the Stars. Bishop bullied his way through the defense for offensive rebounds, buckets and everything else in between in both Sunday games for BABC. He is a tough player to project but he knows how to play, how hard to bring it and what to do when he has the rock in his hands.
The same can be said for Giplaye, a similarly built freshman.
Despite the loss, Dominic Cheek was the best looking prospect on the court. The 6-foot-5 wing from St. Anthony's led all scorers with 21 points and looked smooth and in control in the process. The class of 2009 prospect was a bullet into the paint, where he employed a great looking floater that soared just above the hands of Oriakhi. Cheek was great with his left hand and despite his thin legs, he took the contact time and time again. Cheek got to the line eight times and sunk every attempt.
The sophomore is still very early in his recruitment and after watching nearly all of his teammates commit in the last week or so, Cheek will have plenty of time to improve and collect offers that are sure to come his way.
Wing Brian Oliver, a 6-foot-5 wing from William Penn High School in Delaware, scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the defeat. He's a prospect to keep an eye on in the class of 2009. He has a body, some bounce and a shot that he isn't afraid to put up from the wing.
The first memorable big time battle of the spring is in the books. Top ten prospects Greg Monroe and Ed Davis tangled up in a classic pairing of some of the best big men in the nation. It was a matchup that will go down as the signature game for Davis's young career and a game that Monroe never seemed to back down in.
Davis was the calming force for Boo Williams. When he was in the game, things ran smoothly, the guards make good decisions and the offense ran without a hitch. When he came out for a breather, there was a little break in consistency and the team didn't run with the same kind of continuity that it did when he was on the floor.
Davis seemed in control at all times and had the luxury of having another top notch player on the other block and guards that knew how to feed the post. That was a huge advantage in the matchup and gave the Virginia native an eventual edge.
Both players scored 21 points but Davis hardly missed a bucket. He shot 10 of 13 and even his misses looked pretty. Monroe struggled with the bodies that flew at him, converting just nine of 21 from the floor. Monroe also held a rebounding edge with 12 to six.
"It was good because it tells me where I'm at and what I need to work on," Davis said. "I need to work on my strength," Davis said after the game. "I just wanted to go hard and get a victory. I wasn't looking at it like I have to match up with Monroe and I need to beat him. I want to have my team win."
Davis did just that and had a weekend that he probably won't forget for a good while.