All-Ohio Red's 17-and-under group, who are the defending 16-and-under national champions, participated in this past weekend's NY2LASports Swish-and-Dish Tournament in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Head Coach Benji Burke's bunch didn't finish as well as they may have hoped, but there were some positives.
"I thougt this tournament let us know where we are at," Burke said. "We are a little disappointed that we only got to play three games, but we will get better."
The Red got second place in its pool and lost in the first round of tournament play.
All-Ohio Red defeated a very talented St. Louis Eagles team in its opening game led by Stevie Taylor's (Gahanna Lincoln) 25 points and Trey Burke's (Northland) 15. Elijah Macon, who is playing up a grade, notched 12 points as did Traevon Jackson (Westerville South).
In its second pool play encounter, Red led a very good Mac Irvin Fire squad by 10 points at half, then the wheels fell off. Jackson got hurt in the second half and was unable to return. Red fell behind by as many as 18 points before losing by seven.
Burke finished with 32 points and added the first dunk of his career in a game situation.
"Everyone on the bench was cracking him," Burke said of his son's first jam. "No one really expected it, so we were all laughing and having a good time with it."
Taylor chipped in with 16 points.
The Fire was led by Louisville commit Wayne Blackshear and Wisconsin commit George Marshall.
In the tournament, the defending national champs fell to the Wisconsin Spartans by a single point.
"They were a lot like us," Burke noted. "They were all 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-4, thick, strong, and played very hard."
Taylor nearly the won the game on a floater that went in and out of the hoop, while Macon had a tip-in do the same. Burke finished with 26 points before fouling out and Taylor added 18. Obviously, they were without the services of Jackson.
Overall, Burke recognized some interesting points.
“Our three guards can play with anybody," Burke believes. "They showed just how tough Ohio guards are. Also, Elijah Macon has the potential to be a pro. He held his own against some high-level players and some of the best teams in the country, and basically manned down the paint for us on his own. He has to continue to get the proper training and get his grades straight. For some reason, he turns it on in the spring and summer. He showed a drop step, baby left hook and other stuff you don’t see from him any other time."
All-Ohio Red will be back action this weekend at the prestigious Boo Williams Inviational. It will mark the first weekend of the new Nike Series games as well.
The Red will benefit from the arrival of George Fant of Warren Central out of Bowling Green, Kentucky who will be making the trip this weekend. Fant is 6-foot-7 with heavy interest from D-I schools.
All-Ohio Red 16-and-under enjoyed a successful weekend in Milwaukee by bringing home a runner-up trophy back to the Buckeye state.
The 16’s were able to participate in six games, which concluded with a 56-49 loss to Kingdom Hoops in the championship game of the Platinum Bracket.
All-Ohio got its weekend going with a 73-48 triumph of the Wisconsin Swag. Red quickly fell behind (8-1), but followed with an 11-2 run to take a 12-10 lead. Swing kept the game close for a half trailing by just three points at the intermission.
Red ripped off a 13-3 run to start the second half led by the defense of Myles Hamilton (Lakewood St. Edward’s), and the offense of Jake Kretzer (Waverly), Mark Minch (Lakota East), and Kyle Molock (Dublin Coffman).
“Minch was incredible and displayed some of the best scoring moves seen at the tournament during this run,” head coach Victor Dandridge said.
Kretzer scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half, while Jalen Robinson (Northland) and Leroy Alexander (Toledo Springfield) evenly split 22 points. “Chico” Minch finished with 10.
In Game 2, AOR knocked off Next Level Performance, 66-42. Molock and Hamilton performed very well against NLP for much of the game, but it was Robinson who highlighted the second half.
“In the second half, someone awoke the sleeping giant,” Dandridge noted. “Robinson went off and repeatedly scored at will.”
Molock led Red with 17 points with Robinson notching 14 and Hamilton adding 13.
In the final game of pool play, AOR faced an Ohio rival, the Dayton Nets. The Nets got out early on Red thanks to Andre Yates (Trotwood-Madison), but Red would hold on for a 54-52 win.
“Yates played extremely well until he suffered an injury in the second half,” Dandridge said.
AOR lost the 6-foot-7 Kretzer in this game with a right elbow injury, which ended his weekend.
In the first playoff game, Red faced the Illinois Rising Stars and earned a hard-fought 66-62 victory. All-Ohio would be without Kretzer, but welcomed back 6-foot-8 Elijah Macon (Marion-Franklin) who was playing with the 17’s for much of weekend.
The game was back-and-forth against a much bigger Rising Stars outfit. It was a coming out party for Dayton Dunbar’s Gary Akbar and Alexander. The Springfield guard led the way with 16 points, Minch tossed in 12, and Akbar added 12.
In the final four, Red was able to inch by the St. Louis Eagles, 76-74. Against a team with a much bigger frontcourt and a tremendous backcourt, Macon and Deontae “Teddy” Hawkins (Dayton Dunbar) repeatedly finished off plays inside over the taller Eagle defenders with athletic dunks and finishes above the rim.
“Molock and (Jordan) Potts provided solid leadership for us in running the offense,” Dandridge stated. “Elijah and Deontae were very good, and Hamilton was on fire.”
Hamilton led the way with 16 points and Minch was good for 14.
“Minch, once again, appeared to be unstoppable against man defense,” Dandridge explained.
In the title game, AOR jumped out to an early lead but began to wear down as the first half came to a close and Kingdom Hoops took advantage. A 10-point lead suddenly became three points by the break.
“In the second half, Hawkins and Robinson scored well in an attempt to fend them off, but they caught us with two minutes to go,” Dandridge said.
With the score knotted at 47, Kingdom Hoops sealed the deal with a 9-2 spurt to close the game. Hawkins led Red with 13 points.
The 16’s will also be in action next weekend at the Boo Williams Invitational.
The All-Ohio Red 15-and-under unit captured the Swish-and-Dish championship by beating a very good Spiece team 71-65 in the finals.
What makes this feat even more special is Red only took six players to Milwaukee. However, this is nothing new for head coach Quentin Rogers as he won this tournament last year while coaching the 17’s with just five players and without Jared Sullinger and J.D. Weatherspoon.
The 15U AOR squad is one of the most talented in the state with several D-I prospects showering the roster. It would be hard to find a unit with more future potential than this crew.
After losing to Spiece (IN) by three points in pool play, Red was able to overcome them in the championship with four players on the court in the final minute.
“All six of my guys played extremely well,” Rogers mentioned. “Nigel (Hayes) played well all tournament and especially in the championship game.”
Hayes (Toledo Whitmer), Marc Loving (Toledo St. John’s), Keon Johnson (Mansfield Sr.), Evan Bradds (Jamestown Greeneview), Jaaron Simmons (Kettering Alter) and Taco Charlton (Pickerington Central) made up the roster.
Red was without the services of Charles “Cha-Cha” Tucker (Lansing Eastern, Michigan) and Brogan Roback (Toledo St. John’s).
When asked if Red could win the national championship, Rogers answered emphatically…“Yes.”
Rogers, who led Sullinger and company to three-straight national titles, will now try and take this ultra-talented group to the top of the mountain despite struggling in last year’s national tourney.
All-Ohio Red 15’s are now 2-for-2 on the young season capturing the All-Ohio Grassroots Tournament two weeks ago over the Cincinnati Lakers, 64-61. Bradds, Hayes, and Tucker made all-tournament with Simmons gaining MVP honors.