Championship: Jackson Tigers 69, Riverside Church 65:
Two of the best 16-and-under AAU teams in the country traded paint on Sunday in the final. Al Jefferson made the key plays down stretch to lift the Tigers past powerful Riverside.
AJ Price scored 30 for the hard luck losers. He connected on 6 3-pointers.
Early on, it appeared that the marquee battle would be Jefferson, a sophomore, against 6-8 8th grader Derrick Character. In the first half, Character blocked two of Jefferson's shots and was more than holding his own in the paint. It was amazing to see an 8th grader doing so well in such a heavyweight tilt.
As the game progressed and Price heated up late, Jefferson was forced to step up and he did. If it wasn't a monster dunk, it was a fade away jumper. Jefferson, the highly regarded sophomore, earned his stripes in title game.
However, Character stood his ground and for an 8th grader, his effort was above and beyond the call of duty considering the competition. A lot has been written and said about Character but he's no ordinary middle school kid. He's special.