AAU state tourney action concluded a few weeks ago with champions being crowned for 2009 in age groups for 12 & under thru 17 & under. While the 16 & under and 17 & under tourneys came down to a battle between two veteran AAU clubs which are old rivals the 14 & under and 15 & under tourneys saw a fresh new face flex its muscle.
17 & Under Tourney
For the fourth straight year the Jackson Panthers and the Jackson Tigers met in the finals of this age group with the Panthers taking home the Gold the last two years. The first quarter saw the two teams attempt to feel each other out with the Tigers holding a slight 15-13 lead at the end of the stanza. The first big moment of the game arose in the first minutes of the second quarter. Already minus the services of swingman Kelvin Nixon, who was injured in Saturday pool play action, the Panthers leading scorer Dundrecous Nelson picked up his second foul of the game, sending him to the bench for the remainder of the first half. With Nelson out of the game the Panthers struggled to score and keep pace with the bigger and deeper Tigers, falling behind 41-32 at the half. Nelson's return at the start of the third quarter seemed to recharge the Panthers as they came charging back, taking a 53-52 lead into the fourth. The Panthers held a 57-56 lead with just over 5 minutes left when the Tigers went on a 7-0 run to take a 63-57 lead with 2:29 left and seemed to have the game pretty much in hand when Nelson fouled out about 30 seconds later. The Panthers, however, had one more push in them, cutting the deficit to 3 with 49 seconds left, but 4 free throws and a Rashard Perkins slam proved to be too much for the Panthers to overcome as the Jackson Tigers took home the title by a final score of 72-66.
The Tigers we lead by the backcourt duo of Andre Stringer and Edward Townsel with 20 and 13 points respectively, but as mentioned earlier one of the Tigers' strengths is their depth and this was displayed in the rest of their scoring as Rashard Perkins scored 11, Johnny O'Bryant scored 8, Tyler Adams scored 6 and Trency Jackson scored 7. For the Panthers, Dundrecus Nelson poured in a game high 30 points followed by Desmond Haymon with 14.
In the consolation game the Mississippi Ballers captured third with an 83-69 win over the North Mississippi Wildcats. The Ballers were led by LeAntwan Luckett with 22 points as they blew open a close game in the second half. Supporting Luckett were Trey Felder with 15, Dantonio Evans with 10 and Demarcus Lewis with 10. The Wildcats were led by Brandon Blake with 13 points.
Jackson Panthers 71 North Mississippi Wildcats 54
Panthers: Nelson 20, Haymon 22, Cook 13
Wildcats: Green 19, Blake 14, Harrelson 11
Jackson Tigers 84 Mississippi Ballers 74
Tigers: Jackson 23, Perkins 17, Adams 15, Stringer 13
Ballers: Childs 16, Evans 14, Luckett 12
16 & Under Tourney
The Jackson Tigers and Jackson Panthers hooked up in this final also and The Jackson Tigers made it a clean sweep of the older age groups with a 68-55 win as the Panthers succumbed to the Tigers size in the second half after playing them even in the first half.
The Southern Phenoms took home third when Da House forfeited the consolation game. This was one of three high finishes for the "new kid on the block" Southern Phenoms organization, which was competing in its first years of AAU competition.
In the semis the Jackson Tigers held off the Southern Phenoms by a score of 53-49 while the Jackson Panthers defeated Da House 64-42 in a double overtime thriller.
15 & Under Tourney
The Southern Phenoms captured their first state championship by way of a tie-breaker over The Jackson Tigers and the Byram Bulldogs. With only five entries, the teams were all just placed in a single pool with the intent being that the first thru third place finishes would be awarded based on how the teams finished in pool play, but after the games had been played the three teams listed above all finished with a 3-1 record, resulting in the champion being named by a tie-breaker based on the point differential in the games played between the three teams. The Jackson Tigers were awarded second while The Byram Bulldogs finished third.
14 & Under Tourney
Champion: Southern Phenoms
Runner-up: Jackson Tigers
Third: Byram Ballers
Championship: Southern Phenoms 55 Jackson Tigers 50
Consolation: Byram Ballers 61 Louisiana Ball Stars Elite 58 in OT
13 & Under Tourney
Champion: Desoto County Wildcats
Runner-up: Northeast MS Ballers
Championship: Desoto County Wildcats 54 Northeast MS Ballers 43