SUWANEE, Ga. - The play at the Nike Memorial Day Classic was nothing short of fantastic all weekend long, and that continued all the way up until the final second of the tournament. In the end it was Tyler Lamb and California Supreme that came away with the title on a shot that won't be soon forgotten.
Cal Supreme takes the title
The quarterfinals on Sunday night were nothing short of spectacular, but none of those games had anything on the championship game Monday afternoon. In a matchup between California Supreme and Each 1 Teach 1, the game went back and forth until the final second, with the outcome firmly in balance until the final buzzer sounded.
All weekend long Cal Supreme point guard Gary Franklin was balling, and that continued through the championship game. Franklin did everything he could to score and get others involved, and hit some big shots along the way to keep Cal Supreme alive through the first three quarters when it looked like Each 1 Teach 1 might be able to pull away.
The other player really keeping California Supreme in the game early on was Kevin Johnson. The class of 2011 big man hadn't had his best tournament up until the championship game, but going against an undersized Each 1 Teach 1 frontcourt, Johnson went to work. He was an unstoppable force on the boards, especially the offensive end. Once he got rebounds he did an excellent job of converting at the line when he got there. Without Johnson, Cal Supreme would have been in big trouble, but he stepped up in a big way.
Finally for Cal Supreme it was Lamb. The future UCLA Bruin had far and away his best game of the tournament, including the signature shot of the weekend. Playing against Rivals.com's No. 1 player, Brandon Knight, Lamb did as good as could be expected on the defensive end. It is impossible to stop Knight, but Lamb made him work for everything, and frustrated Knight with his tough defense.
On the offensive end, Lamb was solid for the first part of the game, and just kept getting better. With eight seconds left, Each 1 Teach 1 missed a free throw up by one point, and Cal Supreme was able to control the rebound.
After needing a few seconds to control the rebound and get the ball into Lamb's hands, Lamb drove the right side of the floor from half court to a step behind the three point line. With a little over two seconds remaining, Lamb threw up a contested, off-balance 23-foot shot and it was pure. The shot went in with .7 seconds left, and sent the Cal Supreme bench into a celebration.
The celebration however proved to be a little too much. The entire Cal Supreme bench ended up on the floor, which meant a technical foul. The technical meant Knight went to the foul line with a chance to tie up the game. After making the first free throw, Knight left the second one slightly short, and it bounced off. A desperation shot was nowhere close, and that gave Cal Supreme a one point victory, and the championship trophy.
Even though his team lost in the championship game, Knight was very solid for Each 1 Teach 1. He hit shots, got to the rim, and did a much better job of working with 2011 stud Austin Rivers. Rivers and Knight are beginning to get on the same page of how to play, and that isn't good news for teams that will be facing them the rest of the summer. Especially when James Bell returns to the floor.
Stephen Forbes didn't have a big game in the finals of the 17 and under division, but in the semi finals he was excellent for Each 1 Teach 1. The 6-foot-9 post player was impressive scoring around the bucket well. His play was a huge boost for the usually perimeter oriented Each 1 Teach 1 squad.
Lamb, Franklin and Johnson get most of the attention for California Supreme, but Keala King is one of the their most important pieces. At 6 feet 4, the combo guard can do a little bit of everything. He isn't a great shooter, but King plays hard, plays stingy defense, has the ball on a string and really rebounds. Without King's production there is simply no way they win the championship. Look for King to gain a lot more attention from college coaches with his strong play.
Louisiana Select made a surprising run to the semifinals, and a big reason was Langston Galloway. The long 6-foot-3 wing did a little bit of everything for Louisiana Select, and overall had an impressive weekend.
At the 16 and under level the Arkansas Wings came away with the title. Once again Ky Madden, Hunter Mickelson, and Aaron Ross led the Wings in their overtime victory against the Georgia Southern Kings. Mickelson had the highlight dunk of the day with an impressive tip slam in which he elevated over a host of people who were vying for the rebound. On top of that he did some good things both offensively and defensively. Madden simply controlled the flow of the game and made himself very difficult to guard for the smaller Southern Kings backcourt players.
Speaking of the Southern Kings backcourt, Dai-Jon Parker and Shannon Scott were excellent. Parker is one of the best pure scorers in the class. He does it both off the dribble in attack mode, and from beyond the arc. Scott is definitely asserting himself as one of the best true floor generals in the country. He is also making the right pass at the right time, and does everything to set up his teammates. On top of that as a point guard he is as clutch as they come. Overall it was an excellent weekend for both Parker and Scott.
Another highly touted member of the Southern Kings is Tony Parker. The 2012 big man is a huge human being who knows how to use his size to his advantage, but on Monday morning the problem was free throws. Parker was really struggling from the line, and that limited his production and effectiveness. Usually Parker has a decent touch, but it proved to be his Kryptonite in Suwanee.
The Nike Team Florida 16 and under squad fell to the Southern Kings in the semi-finals, but Dominique Williams did everything he could to get his team to the winners circle. Williams is a 6-foot-4 springy athlete who can dunk over an opponent, but at the same time he showed off a nice shooting stroke. He went man up against Dai-Jon Parker, and more than held his own.