Lavender Delivers Title

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – It took overtime but Andrew Lavender finally capped off a terrific Peach Jam effort with a title. In the finale, Lavender scored 27 points as All-Ohio squeaked out an overtime win against the Houston Hoops.

Lavender Leads All-Ohio To Major Title

The odds weren't in their favor. Up against them was a 6-9 power forward who figures to play in the McDonald's Game. Toss in a junior guard with a deft touch from downtown and a wrecking ball guard who gets to the hoop at will, and it would take a Herculean effort to beat the Houston Hoops.

Meet Hercules.

Andrew Lavender, all 5-7 (maybe) of him, scored 27 points to lead the All-Ohio team to the coveted Peach Jam championship. They defeated the Hoops 75-72 in overtime.

All-Ohio led for most of the game. Then, late in the fourth quarter things began to unravel. Leading 57-55, Lavender was called for an offensive foul. Then, a minute later Brandon Faust went up for a dunk and missed it. Things were starting to look bad. A Tack Minor layup gave the Hoops a 60-59 lead.

Then, another turn of events, this time in All-Ohio's favor. A foul is called on Minor and he loses his cool. The result is a technical foul. Lavender goes to the line and makes 1-of-2. Ohio gets the ball back and can't score as a Lavender jumper is off the mark. We're headed to overtime.

Lavender's buzzer beater was off the mark partly because the Hoops made a defensive switch. They took Daniel Gibson off Lavender in favor of another defender. Lavender had been routinely beating Gibson to the bucket all game long. The switch prevented the guard from attacking the rim with the kind of success he'd had all game.

In the overtime, All-Ohio got the lead thanks to buckets by Lavender and was able to hold on.

Foust finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Denzel Lyles scored 16 points for All-Ohio in the title game. Justin Benson was the unsung hero all week long for the Hoops as he stuck jumper after jumper en route to 20 points in the championship. Benson had a terrific first half but mysteriously wasn't on the court during crunch time.

While Benson sat and watched most of the second half, Ndudi Ebi might as well have joined him on the pine. For the second straight game, Ebi was denied the basketball by his own teammates and in our opinion, this cost the Hoops the title. He had 5 points and 3 rebounds in the championship and was visibly upset after the game.

NOTES – College assistants, for the most part, left the Peach Jam Tuesday night. However, staying for the title game were assistants from Rutgers, JMU and Rhode Island. They were joined by Texas coaches Rick Barnes and Frank Haith, Arizona's Josh Pastner, Virginia's Walt Fuller, Indiana's Mike Davis, Oklahoma's Jim Shaw and Jimmy Tubbs and UTEP's Jason Rabedeaux. … Ra'Sean Dickey's thumb injury could keep him out of action for the remained of the summer. … Gary Ervin is headed to Fitchburg (MA) Notre Dame. …

Illinois Warriors guard Colin Falls says that Notre Dame, Northwestern, DePaul, St. Louis, Boston College and Michigan State are on his list. The Irish, Billikens and Blue Demons have offered. … Teammate Marcus Heard likes UNLV, DePaul, Wyoming, Nebraska, Xavier and a slew of mid-majors. …

All-Ohio - 2002 Peach Jam Champs

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