GBOA: Atlanta Celtics vs. Birmingham Storm

GoJackets.com's Shane Connell took in the action at last week's GBOA South Tournament at Norcross High School. The tournament featured 16 of the top teams from around the south. This is a recap of the action from the semifinal game between the Atlanta Celtics and Birmingham Storm.

In the rematch of a game from pool play on Saturday, there were many people hoping to see yet another rematch between Derrick Favors and DeMarcus Cousins. However, they would be disappointed to learn that Derrick Favors was not in attendance (word is that he was heading to another camp). The Celtics were really shorthanded on the interior without Favors and Terrance Shannon, and Robert Chubb also missed the majority of the first half. This gave the Storm a decided advantage in the paint with DeMarcus Cousins, and he went to work causing a lot of damage in the post. It didn't help that Birmingham's guards were knocking down their three point attempts early on helping them build a big lead to start the game.

With all the talent and experience that the Celtics have they didn't fold. They really got a big boost from new addition Laquinton Ross who got the start here. It was going to take an overall team effort to win this one, and that is exactly what they got with everyone contributing in some fashion.

Ross showed his versatility knocking down a long 3 in an opponent's face early in the game and also by getting into the lane and finishing on floaters, lay-up's, etc. Manny Atkins didn't score his first bucket until the 6:00 minute mark of the first half, but that seemed to energize the Celtics as they went on a quick run to tie the score. Just as quickly as the Celtics tied the game, the Storm went on a run of their own to regain a comfortable lead heading into the half, and it was led by a player who has won many games in this gymnasium in PG Taariq Muhammed. He was all over the court in the first half, going coast to coast, dumping the ball off to teammates. His biggest shot was the three quarter court buzzer beater that counted. He seemed to be up for the challenge and was playing with a chip on his shoulder, even talking to someone in the crowd.

While the Storm controlled the tempo of the first half, the second half seemed to belong to the Celtics as they came out with a purpose and charged back into the game led by the strong play of Manny Atkins. He was doing a little of it all: scoring, playing defense, and he really came up big on the boards. Demarcus Cousins continued his strong play in the second half trying to lead his team to victory, but the Celtics turned up their defensive pressure on the Storms guards, and that seemed to be the difference in the game. Their zone was really effective in the second half as they were able to force Cousins a little further away from the basket, and that seemed to frustrate him a bit, turning him into a bit of a jump shooter toward the end. They were also contesting what were open 3 point looks in the first half by the Storm forcing them to shoot a much lower percentage. In the end, the Celtics won going away 71-53.

Notes:

  • DeMarcus Cousins – Look for him to make an immediate impact at UAB. This kid is very talented, and has excellent footwork for a guy with such great size.
  • LaQuinton Ross – At times, he looked like the best player on the court. Ultra talented and can do it all. He has superstar written all over him. I can definitely see the Tracy McGrady comparison.
  • Manny Atkins – I'll say it again, this kid is going to turn some heads at VT. Plays the game the right way. Always hustling, and he does the little things required to win.
  • Nice team effort from the Celtics. They seemed to be getting contributions from everyone.

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