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May 25, 2008
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Championship Sunday at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions lived up to the hype in a big way. The match-ups were tremendous and there was plenty of drama to be had for on-lookers inside the spacious Dean E. Smith Center.
FAVORS FINDS HIS GROOVE
The Atlanta Celtics beat Team Breakdown 72-62 to claim the 17 and under division of the tournament.
Derrick Favors had an interesting Sunday at North Carolina. He was kicked out of a game for the first time in his life and then returned to put on a second half show in the championship game.
After being hand-cuffed early with three fouls, Favors came out strong to close out the half and scored most of his 20 points in the second half of action. The level that Favors was playing on was on a level that few have ever been in at the TOC. Favors' play in the finals will be remembered for a long time.
There were times when he channeled his inner Dwight Howard on Sunday with some amazing work in the post. The only differed between the two was Howard's desire to try and rip the rims off the backboard while Favors would slam it home as if the rims were made out of cotton and not iron.
Favors didn't do it alone in the title game. Class of 2010 guard Trae Golden scored 16 points, capping off a strong championship Sunday showing while Auburn bound guard Andre Malone added 14 points in the title game victory.
Team Breakdown once again leaned on the scoring punch from Kenny Boynton, who scored 29 points in a tough defeat on the biggest stage of the month.
Favors was outstanding in a match-up against Indiana Elite for a good 20 minutes and then he came out of his character. The generally always tight-lipped reserved kid delivered an ugly elbow to D.J. Byrd in the middle of the floor, putting Byrd on the hardwood immediately.
Favors was immediately tossed from the game. He later apologized to Byrd and the two seemed to have the issue resolved.
His dominance (15 points, 10 rebounds and big time defense on Mason Plumlee, who was outstanding the game before) lost it's luster and Indiana Elite scrapped backed to tie the game four minutes later.
The Celtics hung on to win thanks to big shots and good decisions from Golden, key minutes from Robert Chubb and the rest of the Celtics. Golden made the plays in the backcourt that his team needed while Chubb worked hard on the glass against a tough Indiana frontline.
If there were a panoramic picture taken of the three courts on Sunday morning at North Carolina, the image would be impressive. On three consecutive floors, the field boasted the likes of Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, John Wall, Favors, Golden, and Dominic Cheek. That sampling of stars was the story on Sunday. Every where you looked, there was a player worth the price of admission.
The main event was a pairing of Wall, the nation's best player, and his D-One Sports club against Indiana Elite, one of the best teams in the nation.
The match-up wasn't so much about Wall against the Elite. Instead it was a back-and-forth battle between Plumlee and Kelly. And boy what a match-up it was. In fact, the game and the match-up was one of the very best of the entire spring period. It had the star power, the anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better energy and intensity from start to finish.
Kelly started out strong, scoring in the post against a bigger and longer Plumlee. His skill level at his position is off the charts and his turn around jumper from three over the out-stretched frame of Plumlee was one of the premier moves of the entire weekend.
Plumlee scored seven points in a minute's time and that's when the game officially swung Indiana Elite's way for good. His skill level for a player of his size puts him in rare company and what he brings to the table is intriguing. There is a great debate on what kind of player he can be for the Blue Devils, whether he goes down the Josh McRoberts route or the Mike Dunleavy, Jr. route.
Both Kelly and Plumlee finished with 22 points. You can score the victory in the match-up to Plumlee, who helped his team win a great game and he finished strong when it mattered.
Wall was also impressive in the game as well. The speedster was creating offense with his jets and wowing the crowd with his pin-point passing ability. The majority of his passes were outstanding and some of the best of the spring. He's not just a track star. His precision with his passes are in the Peyton Manning category.
FULL D.C. ASSUALT ON 16U DIVISION
The Dean E. Smith Center has been home to plenty of rivalry games over the years and sure the match-up between the D.C. Assault and Triple Threat 16 and under teams doesn't compare to the battles of Tar Heels and Blue Devils, the battle for the 16 and under division championship was certainly entertaining.
Erik Atkins, one of the steady leaders of the backcourt for the Assault, stormed down the line for the game-winning basket with less than four seconds left to play in the title game. The lay-in gave the Assault the 64-61 lead that stuck until the final buzzer.
The crowd was into it as the natural D.C. area rivalry played out a state south and 275 miles away from home. It was fun to see a game where emotions were spirited and gripping until the very end.
The beauty of the Assault roster is that any one player can have his number called and chances are he will deliver. Atkins was that man when it matter. The class of 2010 point guard led the Assault with 16 points and scored the game-winner.
Forward Josh Hairston scored 14 points while Tyler Thornton added 12 points along with Dontae Thomas, who put in 12 points in the title game.
Triple Threat would not go away thanks to it's guard play and overall unselfishness. Standing out was guard Victor Olidipo, who has some star potential because of his high-level hops, creativity and overall grit. The 6-foot-3 guard from DeMathca Catholic scored 20 points in the title game. He's a no-brainer high-major kid
Jerian Grant, another DeMatha prospect, scored 21 points in the title game. He was great on Sunday from start to finish.
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