NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- The New York Gauchos claimed both titles at the 2007 Peach Jam. The 17 and under team had to earn their wins on Sunday as both games played were battles.
The New York Gauchos knew winning the Peach Jam wouldn't be easy. And on Sunday, the team was certainly tested.
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An overtime slugfest with The Family ended with a game-winning bucket from guard Chris Fouch, who sunk a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Gauchos a 70-68 win. Fouch finished with 15 points in the game.
What a week for the 6-foot-1 shooter from Rice High School. He's a specialist for sure and is highly sought out by the mid-majors. All he does is win and seems to shine the brightest in the clutch. Remember, Fouch was the money man in the championship game at the Arizona Cactus Classic. He sunk seven threes against Belmont Shore.
The 16 and under division was also claimed by the Gauchos.
Rematch has different outcome
In a rematch of the Nike Memorial Day championship game, the New York Gauchos and Georgia Blazers slugged it out once again. And like the May tournament, the semi-final game was just as exciting as the first time around.
The Gauchos overcame a small first half deficit and plugged away in the second half to claim the 72-60 victory to move onto the finals.
Part of the beauty of both teams is that any one player can step up and be the proverbial man for his respective club. For the Gauchos, that guy was Darryl Bryant. The St. Raymond's guard scored 20 points (6-14 FG, 6-6 FT) and dominated in the second half.
Bryant did most of his damage with a great burst of speed to the hole, where he scored at the rim and at the foul line. He capped off a great first half of the summer with a strong showing at the Peach Jam.
USC head coach Tim Floyd was one of the few coaches that stuck around for the action on Sunday to see Bryant play. The Trojans are getting closer to offering, says a source close to the Gauchos program.
Bryant had plenty of help from his fellow speedster Jordan Theodore who blazed a path to the basket. All but one of his makes was right at the rim. Theodore, a Seton Hall commitment, scored 16 points (7-10 FG). Theodore and Bryant both had three assists.
It was an off night offensively for Connecticut bound guard Kemba Walker so what did he do when he is struggling? Walker just ran his team with poise and control. Walker scored a quiet seven points but had an effective game every where else on the floor. Walker collected five assists, five rebounds and three steals.
The Blazers, always a well executed team, started strong simply because Xavier Gibson made his presence known in the paint. The 6-foot-10 forward grabbed seven rebounds right out of the gates and protected the basket very well. Gibson finished with 10 points (5-9 FG), 11 rebounds and three blocks.
Point guard Andre Young kept the Blazers in it in the second half. Young finished with 16 points (5-14 FG, 5-5 FT) and handed out five assists. The 5-foot-8 guard drilled a couple of important buckets on the wing.
College of Charleston head coach Bobby Cremmins and Mercer head coach Mark Slonaker brought a pair of assistants along for the game to see Young in action.
Other coaches in the building for the game included assistants from Florida State, Florida, Xavier, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, George Washington, Seton Hall, Texas, Toldeo, Dayton, Oklahoma, Illinois, Oregon, Purdue and Georgia State.
The Family kept marching
Led by 22 points from Paul Williams, Detroit-based The Family won a sluggish 52-44 game against the Georgia Stars in the other semi-final game.
Williams, a 6-foot-3 spot up shooter seemed to always have the answer whenever the Stars made a push down the stretch. The three-star guard was also the answer man against Boo Williams in the first round of the playoffs. He sunk a game-winner to move on in the playoffs.
Part of Williams' effectiveness was Eric Evans. The point guard did a great job of running his club. He had no problems against the Stars and seemed to do whatever he wanted in the backcourt. Evans scored early and then resorted to feeding Williams in the second half. Evans finished with seven points and roughly six assists. Evans is one of the better mid-major guards in the country.
Junior center Dashonte Riley quietly racked up 14 rebounds and 11 blocks. He was a point away from a triple double. The 6-foot-11 prospect had a beautiful turn around jumper over the outstretched arms of Tony Woods.
The Stars wouldn't go away simply because Al-Farouq Aminu wasn't letting them. The Wake Forest bound wing forced a number of turnovers, took a couple of charges and was the most effective player on the court when it came to attacking the basket and utilizing his length. Aminu finished with 12 points.
Kevin Murphy came off the bench and buried four three-pointers en route to his 12 points. The 6-foot-4 instant scorer played an important role for the Stars and has done a fine job of carving out a niche as a good mid-major prospect.
Though to of had a break in his tibia, Tanner Smith returned to Atlanta (a two and a half hour drive) to have x-rays on his left foot on Saturday night. The news was good as he only sprained his ankle. He returned to Augusta to support his teammates. However, his absence from the lineup was certainly missed in the semi-finals.