Trotwood-Madison 64-54 in the finals of the Lamar Davis Memorial
Basketball Tournament. The Cowboys were led by All-Ohio performer and Ohio State recruit, William Buford. Buford was named Tourney MVP after scoring 19 in the finals and 30 against Meadowdale in the opening game.
Dayton Meadowdale – a team that recently held 6-foot-10 Dunbar center and Dayton Flyer recruit Josh Benson to 13 points – experienced Buford’s game first hand when he lit them up for 30 points in an opening round tournament game on Friday.
The Lions couldn’t keep him out of the lane without fouling him; yet in the second half they had little choice but to start doing just that. The senior responded by hitting eleven consecutive foul shots to put Meadowdale away, 75-68.
He is smooth, plays sound defense, shoots with range, and lets the game come to him. He is unselfish, makes good decisions, sees the floor well, and can jump like Roosevelt Chapman. If that is the kind of player that you favor then you will really like this kid.
He’ll play wing when he reports to Columbus next fall.
On Saturday, Buford hit an early jumper and the Cowboys were good to go. Three foul shots later and it was 5-0. At the end of the first quarter it was Libbey prevailing over the scrambling home team, 18-9.
Trotwood-Madison played man-to-man defense exclusively, usually picking up the speedy Libbey guards with half-court pressure. Libbey countered with a match-up zone despite what good natured head coach Leroy Bates says.
“That wasn’t a zone, it was man-to-man.” said a laughing Bates outside the locker room. “That is our specialty. We saw them play last night so we knew what they were going to try to do. We just played to our strength. We played man-to-man. I won’t say anymore. It’s our little secret.”
Veteran Ram head coach Larry Hamm saw something else entirely.
“We played a little zone early but it wasn’t working out for us. We are at our best when we are playing man-to-man so we made it a war. Tonight Libbey did a good job of disguising their defensive sets. It was mostly a match-up zone, and it was tough to deal with.”
With more attention to boxing out and team responsibilities, the Rams were able to turn the tide on boards in the second quarter even though they lost more ground on the scoreboard. Buford hit two more fouls shots and the score was 33-16 at the half.
In the third quarter, T-M responded with a 28-5 run of their own to make the score 44-38. They had improved interior passing and they were starting to control the offensive boards, but a win for the home team was not meant to be. Teams that let their guests shoot in the double bonus have a hard time making up even the smallest of leads, and in the end the Rams lost this game, 64-54.
Julius Wells led all scorers with 20 points (6 rebounds). Buford, the tournament’s MVP, chipped in 19 points (8 rebounds 2 blocks, and an assist). Brad Sandridge also scored in double figures with 13 points (5 rebounds and an assist). Tony Brown and Brad Burton each added five rebounds for Libbey. It was that type of game. The Cowboys aren’t even close to being a one-man show.
“We’ve been working on specific fundamental principles since the Central loss,” Bates said. “We know that if we continue to work hard we’ll get better. I thought Trotwood played very well yesterday, but we played better today. I thought we were able to exploit the few predictable tendencies that they do have.
“Buford is a special player,” Bates continued. “But more importantly he is a special person. He is always trying to get better. When he was a freshman he averaged 13 points a game. When he was a sophomore he averaged 22. Last year he averaged 28. He knows that he expands himself every time he involves his teammates. Most players never understand that.
“I am always amazed when I hear how many points he had. I might hear he got 32, but look at the fine print and see that he shot 9-11 from the field and made a dozen free throws. He’s so smooth, and he is so experienced from having played international ball this summer and with the D-I Greyhounds (AAU ball with Bill Walker, O.J. Mayo, and Aaron Pogue). He’s been an achiever at all of those levels.”
Buford toured Italy for two weeks this summer playing basketball with Team Rebok.
“Kenny Frease (a 6-foot-9 Xavier commit from Canton) was there too,” Buford said after the game. “So were several other guys. We played a lot of ball and we saw a lot of stuff, too. It was a great trip and a good experience.
“Playing AAU with Bill Walker and O.J. Mayo taught me a lot. They’re great players and I learned what I have to do to improve my game by watching what they did to improve theirs. I know what kind of player I want to be, and I’m willing to work hard to get there.
“I think that the biggest negatives in my game are my strength and defense. I’m strong but I’m going to stay in the weight room and work on my defense in practice. Next season isn’t very far away.”
This year is his last chance to win that elusive state title. Toss in a possible Mr. Basketball award and he has reason to stay focused on the present. Next year will be a different story when Buford teams up with B.J. Mullins, Walter Offut, and Noopy Crater to form yet another Buckeye dream recruiting class.
“All Ohio State wants me to do is practice and study hard,” Buford smiled. “That’s all they have told me, and I’m doing what I have been told. I am looking forward to next year though. I know the other players and we’re going to be playing some basketball.”
He may be a star but Buford respects his fellow competitors.
“Trotwood is a real good team. They were down by 20 but came back with a lot more intensity in the third quarter. We got lazy, but deep inside we knew we had to pick our intensity levels back up. We finally did that tonight and we were able to win the game.”
When everything was said and done, Hamm was mostly just proud of his team.
“We were actually positioned where we wanted to be, he said. “So we decided to make this a war. We knew we could do that. Then Domonick (Britt) started to cramp up and we had to substitute for him. Then he got his fourth foul and we lost our momentum.
“But I’m proud of my guys. I’d go to war with them anytime. If you can fight back like that you can play on my team anytime. I challenged them. I was impressed with Libbey but I love my team.”
As for Buford? Hamm was very impressed.
“I said going into the tournament that I thought he was the real deal. He’s one those players that most coaches just assume will get his share of points. We saw the game last night and we just didn’t want him to go to the line like that on us. I knew he was going to make his share of shots, but those ‘and-ones’ in the lane will just kill you.
“He’s a special player. He reminds me of Daequan Cook when he played at Dunbar. He can take you going left, going right, and shooting the jumper. I don’t think he is the passer Cook was, but he has all of the rest of it.”
The Rams were led by Aaron Robinson with 16 points (3 rebounds). Domonick Britt hit double figures with 10 points (6 rebounds, 2 assists). Gregory Gainey (6 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Darnell Tubbs each added 8.
Libbey improved their record to 6-1. The Rams fall to 7-2 and another tough GWOC schedule awaits.
Meadowdale’s Jeremy Williams made the all-tournament team along with Buford and Wells. Britt and Robinson represented T-M. Antonio Bumpus of Columbus Eastmoor Academy rounded out the team.
The Warriors finished third in the tournament by defeating Meadowdale 66-52 in the consolation game.