Deveroes Summer League: Championship Game
The gym was packed on Saturday at Woodward High School for the Championship Game of the Deveroes Summer League. The scrappy team of S.I. Pool Care, consisting of mostly Cincinnati State players mixed in with a couple of former Bearcats and one Ivy-League big guy, faced SLATS and their squad of current UC players with a sprinkling of random bench players.
S.I. Pool Care had surprised many onlookers by even making the final game. Veteran point guard, Jamual "Grimey" Warren led the young team of high-fliers through the tournament like a rancher herding athletic cattle back to the homestead.
SLATS had relied on the star power of Yancy “Oak Tree” Gates, Dion Dixon and Sean Kilpatrick to carry them into the championship. But for the big enchilada, they debuted another big gun who had recently been added to their roster: UC future-star Lance Stephenson. With Stephenson in the fold, I decided that S.I. Pool Care would be outclassed by the rich crop of Division I talent on SLATS and my colleague, Mr. Owens, was eager to put money against such a claim. We shook on it and hoped for the best.
As the players gathered around mid-court for the tip-off, all eyes rested on the hulking physique of Lance Stephenson. At 6'5'', and around 220 lbs, Stephenson has a squarish build, complete with a broad upper-body, thick legs and a boxy head. With the swagger of a caged tiger, Lance paces around the floor with a cold, determined face, appearing relaxed but deadly.
Once play began, he moved around the court in bursts and looked to out-muscle anyone in sight. Early on he showed a combination of aggressive drives to the basket along with comfortable 3-point shooting range. When the situation called for it, Lance posted up smaller defenders and showed some quality back-to-the-basket moves. Even the most casual basketball fan could immediately detect a serious talent deep within Lance Stephenson.
Even with the offensive firepower of Stephenson and his SLATS mates, S.I. Pool Care came out unafraid. Their game plan was to score inside any way they had to. Knowing that SLATS big man, Yancy Gates, would not give his maximum effort in a summer league, championship or not, the veteran front-court of S.I. Pool care, complete with legendary Bearcat Herb Jones, strong man Jon Williamson and Colombia University center Jason Miller, both attacked the inside and drew Yancy out on mid-range jumpers. With a much deeper bench than SLATS, S.I. Pool Care subbed in the young leapers of Cincinnati State for the heavier veterans once they tired, leaving Yancy with a handful of fresh players to match up against throughout the game. As a result, S.I. Pool Care attacked the offensive glass, out-rebounding SLATS in the first half, and limited Gates offensively to six first-half points.
Going into halftime, SLATS looked unconcerned even though they were down 13 and hadn't once looked like the better team.
After an eye-popping slam dunk performance by Darnell Wilkes during halftime, the teams took the floor with little to no adjustment to their game plans. Sean Kilpatrick attempted to assert himself more in the game and came out shooting better in the second half. Stephenson drew more defensive attention after halftime, forcing Yancy to shoot the ball more. Gates responded with more points but converted most of those shooting long jumpers.
S.I. Pool Care continued to take the ball to the rack on every possession, getting fouled or scoring on second-chance points nearly every time. The added defensive pressure on Stevenson, annoyed the young superstar and forced him into a poor shooting half, five second-half fouls and a technical foul that proved to be the end for SLATS. Lance finished with 27 points, but strangely none of them seemed to have mattered much.
S.I. abandoned the 3-point shot, only hoisting three after halftime, and Grimey Warren drove to the basket with ease time and again in the game's final 10 minutes. Warren controlled the pace of the game and his team's lead, and showed to be a savvy game manager down the stretch. S.I. Was 12-14 from the free-throw line in the last half; a stat every coach stresses when playing with the lead.
SLATS resorted to jacking up 3-pointers and yelling at the referees as they watched their chances of a championship dwindle.
When the final horn sounded, S.I. Pool Care had outscored SLATS in the paint 62-34, had nine more second-chance points and 35 more bench points---SLATS finished without any. Grimey walked away from the gym with 18 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, my vote for tournament MVP and a championship, all in a days work.
I was out $5. I'll get it back next year. Hope to see you all there too.
Mojokong---celebrating a slice of pride in our fair city of Cincinnati.
Newspaper Box Score
S.I. POOL CARE vs SLATS 08/01/09 2:30 p.m. at Woodward High School At Woodward High School
S.I. POOL CARE 101, SLATS 84
S.I. POOL CARE WHITE, Heath 9-16 6-9 24; WILLIAMSON, John 8-17 4-4 20; GOODSEN, Darren 7-13 4-5 18; WARREN, Jamual 8-13 1-1 18; THOMPSON, Charles 2-3 5-5 9; MENDOZA, Maurice 1-1 2-2 4; MILLER, Jason 1-4 0-0 2; LEASHORE, Jay 1-1 0-1 2; JONES, Herb 1-3 0-0 2; MILLEN, James 1-4 0-0 2; EDWARDS, Rob 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 39-75 22-27 101.
SLATS STEPHENSON, Lance 8-20 8-11 26; KILPATRICK, Sean 6-16 5-6 18; DIXON, Dion 7-13 0-0 18; GATES, Yancy 6-11 4-7 17; McBRIDE, Anthony 2-7 1-2 5; STEFANOU, Steve 0-1 0-0 0; ORR, Justin 0-2 0-0 0; ALUISE, Mike 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 29-71 18-26 84.
S.I. POOL CARE................ 53 48 - 101 SLATS......................... 40 44 - 84
3-point goals--S.I. POOL CARE 1-8 (WARREN, Jamual 1-1; WILLIAMSON, John 0-3; GOODSEN, Darren 0-1; THOMPSON, Charles 0-1; MILLER, Jason 0-1; JONES, Herb 0-1), SLATS 8-25 (DIXON, Dion 4-8; STEPHENSON, Lance 2-5; GATES, Yancy 1-3; KILPATRICK, Sean 1-5; ORR, Justin 0-1; ALUISE, Mike 0-1; McBRIDE, Anthony 0-2). Fouled out--S.I. POOL CARE-None, SLATS-None. Rebounds--S.I. POOL CARE 49 (WARREN, Jamual 11), SLATS 37 (GATES, Yancy 9). Assists--S.I. POOL CARE 15 (WARREN, Jamual 7), SLATS 6 (KILPATRICK, Sean 2; DIXON, Dion 2). Total fouls--S.I. POOL CARE 20, SLATS 19. Technical fouls--S.I. POOL CARE-None, SLATS-TEAM.
Championship Game of the Deveroes Summer League