Spring Jam Fest Championship Day Recap

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As the final buzzer sounded on Sunday, River City Reign was celebrating winning the 17 and under championship and we were giving away our sixth and final trophy of the weekend. After seeing a number of great individual performances Friday and Saturday, Sunday was all about team championships. Here how our six winners got their trophies.

Open Division

The open bracket revolved primarily around Canaries Basketball, a program that made their way over from Spain to compete in this year’s tournament. They created a lot of buzz with two early blow out wins and a roster filled with Division 1 prospects. As good as they were though, they were far from the only team with talent. Canaries was pushed to the max in their semifinal game against Northeast Basketball Club. Led by the great play of Asem Johnson, NBC looked to have Canaries on the ropes, but a buzzer beater dunk crushed NBC’s title hopes and moved CBA to the championship where they would face the NY Panthers.

The championship game saw a tight contest for about 28 minutes of play. It was then that the Canaries extended their lead to 10 and never let New York close that gap. For Canaries, 6’6 Issa Thiam was a player who came in relatively unheard of, but definitely made some impressions on spectators. Elhadji Dieng was another who utilized his size on the glass and helped his team win a championship.

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17u Division

There were a number of different storylines coming from the 17 and under division. Friday night it was the Karolina Diamonds who started hot and had everyone talking. D1 commits Brandon Childress (Wake Forest) and Ty Graves (Boston College) looked very strong. Then it was the Team Takeover Orange showing off with their top-level talent. In the later round on Saturday however, Team Loaded and the NJ Shoreshots started creating a little buzz with their scrappy play and toughness. Donald Hicks (Team Loaded), Austin Harriot (NJ Shoreshots-Pooley) and Dejuan Clayton (Team Takeover) are just a few players who helped their recruitment this weekend.

The Final Four was made up of Team Loaded versus River City Reign and Jersey Shore Warriors versus Shoreshots-Pooley. Team Loaded was coming off a big last second victory over the Karolina Diamonds while River City Reign flexed their muscles against Wayne PAL. Two of the hottest teams of the weekend, this match up did not disappoint. A tight contest through out, River City had a lead, but could not seal it from the free throw line. With the door open for a last second look to win, Adam Grant‘s three hit back iron and River City was heading to the final. Maliek White had a sensational game; he scored 15 points and dished out 13 assists. There they would face the Jersey City Warriors, who defeated Shoreshots-Pooley in another close contest on the opposite side of the bracket. Jersey Shore saw themselves in back to back Spring Jam Fest championships, would they be able to win this one?

The championship game started close, but once momentum started rolling River City’s way, it never stopped and they would beat Jersey Shore 75-55.  JJ Matthews was unstoppable down low, scoring a game high 26 points and hauling in 11 rebounds. He led the Reign to a big win and a 17u championship. Though Jersey shore fell short, they did see great performances from Chuck Champion, Tommy Funk and Pat Andree over the course of the weekend. Expect them to be back in a final soon. Congratulations to River City Reign!

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16u Division

The 16u championship featured a new face taking on a familiar one. Wisconsin United traveled to Manheim and instantly drew attention from those in attendance. They feature size upfront and strong guards who are relentless at attacking the glass. United started their Sunday topping the Northern Kings, starting the game on a 16-2 run, and then would be a very good Team Price team from New York to head to the final. They would face a Jersey Shore Warrior team that had some impresses wins of their own. Before they ended York Ballers‘s four game win streak, they took down River City Reign in the Elite Eight.

Wisconsin United came into the championship as slight favorite, but you cannot ever count Jersey Shore out in a championship. Jersey Shore jumped out to an early lead and ended the half up four. Most of the second half was played even, until the four minute mark, when Wisconsin United took some momentum and grabbed a lead. Like we said before though, do not count out the Warriors; just as it looked like United might take the game, Jersey Shore jumped back on top with a minute to go, 52-51. From there it was a game of free throws, and Jersey Shore was able to do their part to seal a victory.

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15u Spooky Division

The DC Thunder have won a the 15u bracket of a Hoop Group Jam Fest tournament at Spooky Nook. Sound familiar? That’s because it happened just last summer at the Summer Jam Fest. While it may not have been the same team, the DC Thunder program came to Manheim in July and won the 15 and 16u age groups. This Spring, their 15u team represented the program appropriately by winning the Spooky bracket.

The 15u Final Four consisted of four very talented teams: Team Loaded, Team Takeover Orange, Baltimore Supreme, and of course, DC Thunder. While any of these teams were deserved of advancing to the championship, it was the Thunder and Team Takeover who would square off. Team Takeover was looking to follow their 14u club and walk away with two championships. Unfortunately, the strong play of Jared Bynum and Brayden Gault, and Wynston Tabbs‘s ability to score in transition, spoiled Takeover’s plans. The Thunder would go on to win another Hoop Group title.

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15u Nook Division

The Nook bracket in the Spring Jam Fest was highlighted by Team Rio, a 14u squad with National recognition. The Jersey based team played up a year and still made their run to  championship look easy, blowing out teams on their way to a trophy. They would face a scrappy Blue Chips team in the semifinals. To their credit, the team from Allentown kept it close early, not allowing Rio to get  into a rhythm offensively. In the end, the size of Tariq Ingraham down low and the play of Cole Anthony and Bryan Antoine was just too much to handle. The final game would be Rio versus Metro Boston, who had a tremendous run on the other side of the bracket. As hot as Boston was however, they were not match for Rio, who would go on to handily win the Spring Jam Fest Nook division.

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14u Division

This 16 team bracket saw a Final Four that consisted of GPU versus Baltimore Supreme, and Team Takeover Orange versus Brooklyn Rens. The Rens came into the finals on a high note, winning this year’s Spring Junior Jam Fest just a few weeks earlier. Team Takeover did not seem phased by that however, and ended the Rens’ run for back to back Hoop Group Championships. That would set up a final with GPU, who topped Baltimore Supreme in their first game Sunday.

The championship game was a roller coaster of a contest. What started out as a close affair, turned ugly for a second when Takeover went on a big run to take a 15 point lead. They kept this lead most of the game, until the charity stripe became their worst enemy. As GPU began fouling to extend the game, Takeover could not converted from the line, keeping the door open.  GPU closed the gap as every Takeover free throw missed. Unfortunately, the comeback was not meant to be; a few timely free throws with their backs against a wall and some missed opportunities by GPU allowed Takeover to win the final.

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Congratulations to all of our championship teams! After a great weekend of hoops, we cannot wait to get back at it in two weeks for the Pittsburgh Jam Fest.’

 

@JN_Albano
@TheHoopGroup

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