Southern Jam Fest Recap: We R1 and Team Loaded NC capture 17U and 16U titles

The Southern Jam Fest — one of the East Coast’s strongest and deepest spring tournaments on a yearly basis was highlighted by strong 17U and 16U divisions, with a mix of the Northeast and Southeast’s strongest programs going head-to-head.

17U Champions: We R1
17U Runner-Up: Team Loaded NC
A month after the April recruiting period, We R1 came to Hampton and made a major statement. Capping off a dominant tournament run, We R1 took home the 17U championship with a 75-65 win over a talented Team Loaded VA squad. Even as star point guard Trevon Duval exited the game with a minor injury early in the first half, Eric Ayala and Tyrese Martin took command in the championship game, leading We R1 to an exclamation point on a memorable weekend. After jumping out to a 48-31 lead at halftime and a 24-point lead early in the second half, Team Loaded VA stormed back and brought the lead down to single digits with seven minutes remaining. The teams traded blows for the rest of the second half, but We R1 was able to finish strong and close out their five-game run — a run in which they defeated their opponents by an average margin of 27 points.

Before falling in the title, Team Loaded VA punched their ticket in the championship in one of the most highly-anticipated games of the weekend, scoring a big semifinal win over in-state rival Boo Williams. Although the game started out with a few intense exchanges, Loaded VA quickly opened up a double-digit lead and never looked back, advancing with a 59-49 win.

We R1 made their way to the title with a hard-earned 73-61 win over DC Premier, in a matchup of two teams who know each other well from their yearly battles on the Under Armour circuit. Duval’s 24 points led all scorers, as We R1 opened a small lead late in the first half, but the two teams found themselves neck-and-neck for much of the game before We R1 pulled away late. Duval electrified the crowd with a big dunk and some highlight-reel passes, to go along with his game-high 24 points.

We R1 17u

16U Champions: Team Loaded NC
16U Runner-Up: DC Premier
Team Loaded NC finished off an impressive run through the 16U bracket with a 72-65 win in the title game, fighting off a feverish DC Premier comeback in the final minutes. After jumping out to a 20-point lead in the first half — and holding an 18-point halftime lead — Loaded NC saw their lead fall to as little as three in the second half, after Premier picked up their defensive intensity and began to assert themselves on the boards. Despite DC Premier’s best efforts, a few timely buckets for Loaded — and strong free-throw shooting in the final minutes — sealed the win. Capping off a solid scoring weekend that saw his stock rise in the eyes of many scouts and media in attendance, guard Trey Wertz led Loaded’s offensive efforts with 20 points.

Team Loaded NC made their way into the championship with a dominant semifinal win over hometown Boo Williams, going up 17 at halftime and coasting to a 78-54 win behind a game-high 22 points from Trey Wertz. In their entire six-game run, the team outscored opponents by an average of 17 points per game, and also went home with wins over Baltimore Elite and Garner Road.

On the opposite side of the bracket, DC Premier faced a strong Final 4 challenge from We R 1, gutting out a 48-36 semifinal win after a back-and-forth affair. One of the rising stars of the weekend, Jermain Harris finished with 17 points and displayed a strong inside-out game in helping send DCP to the title game.

Team Loaded NC 16u

15 & 14u Champions

By James Albano

Often overshadowed by the insane star power in the 16 and 17 year old brackets, the younger teams in the Southern Jam Fest don’t always get the recognition and love they deserve. This year’s Southern Jam Fest featured highly respected programs in our lower age groups, as Team Takeover and Boo Williams took home trophies. For both teams, the championship game theme was comebacks, trailing early, but rallying late to seal a win.

15U Champion: Team Takeover
15U Runner Up: New Heights

The most impressive piece of Team Takeover’s 15u championship run is that they were a 14u team playing up. The Nike club never once appeared a year younger, running through the 15u bracket and knocking off premier team after premier team.

After knocking off a Team Loaded team that showcased enormous size in the front court, Takeover seemed to have met their match in the final versus New York-based New Heights. New Heights attacked early and led by seven at the break; they led by as many as 10 in the first half. The second half was all Takeover, however. The younger club buckled down defensively and ended plus 12 in the second half, topping New Heights by 5 to take the championship!

Team takeover 15U

14U – Champion: Boo Williams
14U Runner Up: We R1

Boo Williams select refused to go down without a fight in their own gym. We R1 jumped out to a hot start, taking a lead of double digits over BWSL. As Boo chipped away in the first half, We R1 continued to match them shot for shot, and maintained a five point lead into the break.
It was not until late in the second half that Boo made a run, and what a run it was. Starting with a Bryce Steele turnaround jumper to make it 60-58, the Virginia based team went on a 21-8 run to close out the 14U championship game. As they say, it’s not how you start, but how you finish. BWSL definitely finished strong.
 Boo Williams 14u

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