Two Remain At Nationals

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Two of the nation's finest point guards have led their teams to the finals of the AAU Nationals. Chris Paul and the Kappa Magic will take on Andrew Lavender and All-Ohio in the finals on Wednesday.

AAU Nationals, Day Three

Semifinal No. 1: All-Ohio Red 70, Georgia Stars 58

The Stars came out slinging and had All-Ohio on its heels for most of the first half. Georgia PG Matt Causey came out pretty hot. He scored 23 in the game, including 9 in the first half. Causey was able to help the Stars build up an early lead partly because he shot the ball well over Andrew Lavender. However, as it turned out, Lavender was merely pacing himself for the homestretch.

There isn't a player more deserving of rest in America than Lavender. He's carried All-Ohio squarely on his shoulders since the beginning of the month. We know he's tired, that's a fact. However, he's been able to do a nice job of conserving energy early and harnessing it late in the game.

We don't have the official scoring breakdown, but our guess is that he hit 8 of the final 10 All-Ohio points. Basically, when the game was being decided in the final minutes, Lavender took the ball to the hole and no one was able to guard him. While Causey won the first half match up, the final three minutes belonged to Lavender and that's when this game was won. Lavender scored 27 in the win, including 14 in the fourth quarter.

Georgia was paced by Causey and senior forward Brent Petway whose early energy and work on the glass seemed to really push the Georgia Stars.

Semifinal No. 2: Kappa Magic 58, BABC 54

AAU semifinal games tend to be more dramatic than the actual finals and this one had all the ingredients of a classic. In overtime, Reyshawn Terry converted two free throws that sealed it for Kappa Magic. Terry finished with 18 points and Kappa moved on to play All-Ohio.

BABC led at the break. Center Courtney Sims had a nice first half and his presence was really lifting the guard heavy boys from Boston. He would finish with 13 points, but wouldn't be much of a factor down the stretch or in overtime.

For the most part, BABC kept Kappa in check early on. Kappa guard Chris Paul wasn't scoring the basketball at his normal rate and in the first half BABC did a nice job on him. While the guards were doing their thing, Brandon Setzer, an unlikely hero, was stepping up and getting things done.

Setzer played good defense on Sims and made him work. On the offensive end, he made a few medium-range jumpers and was all over the glass. He played with energy and passion and it was the best performance we'd seen him have and it couldn't have come at a better time. In the second half, he did a lot to neutralize Sims.

While Terry made a trio of 3s in the first half, he went rather quiet in the second, especially through the fourth quarter. Teammate Paul then started finding a grove and by the fourth quarter, his stroke was locking in. With 5:15 remaining Paul drilled another 3 to tie the game.

The teams tussled back and forth again until Setzer's tip made it 50-48 Kappa. Then, with under three seconds to go, Charles Burch took a pass from Antonio Chapman and his layin sent the game into overtime.

Overtime was hotly contested. We think the game turned when BABC's guard s weren't able to take care of the ball and turned it over a few times down the stretch. Those opportunities turned into buckets and free throws for the Magic eventually Terry hit the two that mattered most for the win.

Steve Hailey finished with 16 points. Will Blaylock was held to 6 points. Keith Foster hit a few big hoops down the stretch for Kappa and his catch off an alley oop from Paul will be regarded as one of the plays of the tournament.

The final is set for early afternoon on Wednesday. It's an interesting matchup from the sense that two of the nation's top point guards and small forwards get to match up. The fatigue factor goes against All-Ohio as Kappa has played far less tournaments in July and is the more rested team.

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