17U Final Four Recap Hoop Group West Virginia Jam Fest

Hoop Group’s West Virginia Jam Fest played their Final Four on Saturday, and it was every bit as exciting as you would have expected.

In the first semifinal, Team Philly and Team Takeover went to overtime. With just over a minute left, Takeover’s Coleman Johnson — who had 14 points — hit an eight foot jumper to take a 57-55 lead. After trading turnovers, Team Philly tied the game up on two free throws. On the ensuing possession, Takeover ran out the clock and had two looks from within five feet, but couldn’t get them to drop.

In the overtime, Philly’s Brendan Taylor scored to take the initial lead, but a three from Myles Tate gave Takeover the lead with 40 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Tate stripped Maurice Watson and got the ball to Tillman Dunbar. Dunbar was fouled and hit both free throws to give Takeover a three point lead. Philly had a look at a three to tie the game, but the shot was off the mark and Takeover advanced to the final.

At the same time, the NY Gauchos and Hoop Heaven Elite were in the midst of their own exciting finish. (It should be noted that both teams advanced to the semi’s on buzzer beaters late Friday night.)

Hoop Heaven’s Brian Bartner had done a terrific job on top 50 recruit and UConn commit Omar Calhoun, but the Gauchos had still managed to built a lead, largely due to the cold shooting from Hoop Heaven’s stud back court of Alex Mitola and Jaren Sina. Mitola, in particular, was having a terrible game, missing seven threes and going scoreless over the first 20 minutes of the game. But with the score 42-32 and about 10 minutes left on the clock, Mitola was able to get into the paint and score a layup. That bucket was all the 5’8″ Dartmouth commit needed, as he absolutely caught fire.

Mitola scored 25 points in Hoop Heaven’s 28-8 run to close the game, including a stretch where he hit three high-arching threes on consecutive possessions. Once Hoop Heaven grabbed the lead, they didn’t give it up, as Mitola hit eight free throws in the final minute to ice the game.

In the final, it was all Hoop Heaven in the first half.

Takeover’s talented back court was unable to get any penetration against a stout Hoop Heaven defense. Thanks to five combined threes from Mitola and Chris Jenkins in the first half, Hoop Heaven opened up a 30-14 lead at the half. But that lead didn’t last, as Takeover went on a 21-5 run to start the second half, shutting off the open jumpers and pounding the ball into the paint. But once again, it was Mitola who rose to the occasion. After four free throws gave Hoop Heaven a 39-35 lead, Mitola buried a three with just under three minutes left, putting Hoop Heaven up 42-35.

They would go on to cruise to a 47-38 win, taking home the West Virginia Jam Fest 17U title.

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