Ruston Showcase a Success

Tristan Thompson scores 29 to leads Grassroots Canada 16U over their 17U counterparts, 80-72 in overtime.

Many in the crowd expected the 16U team to really get after their older teammates as the two Grassroots Canada teams squared off for the crown.

Led by Cory Joseph, the 16U team jumped out to a 7-0 lead. Joseph followed his own miss and was able to draw the foul and then hit a deep three the next time down the court.

Junior Cadougan led the 17U team right back into the game. Cadougan hit a step back three, got in the lane for a nice dish for a layup, came back down and nailed a pull up three, and even dove on the floor for a steal.

The two teams really wanted to win and claim bragging rights. The 17U team, led by Cadougan and Tristan Thompson, pulled ahead for a 40-30 advantage at the half.

Myck Kabongo, a lightning fast point guard from the class of 2011, helped lead the 16U team back into the game. The 6'1" guard hit a three and then beat his man down the court to pull within 46-43. After Cory Joseph made a nice dish to set up a teammate for a score, Kabongo made a layup in traffic to take the lead 53-52.

The 17U team wouldn't let it go that fast. Kadeem Coleby, a 6'9" post player, stole the ball and converted on a three point play. Cadougan followed with a strong drive down the lane to go up 66-64.

Following a wild exchange with less than 30 seconds remaining, Thompson finally tipped in a Kabongo miss that tied it at 66, forcing overtime.

Just like at the start of the game, 16U scored the first seven points of the extra period and never looked back, winning 80-72.

Both teams had tough battles to get to the finals. Grassroots Canada 16U faced off with the L.A. Rush. a team comprised of players from Dorsey High School in Los Angeles. Jordan Mackie, a wing player from the 09 class stood out for the Rush.

Grassroots 17U had an epic battle with the Arizona Celtics. Celtics coach Tommy Hambricki was pleased with his team's effort, but they could not overcome the size advantage of their opponents. "We didn't shoot as well as normal and our top scorer, Nathan Murphy, was hurt, but I was pleased with the way our team stepped up," Hambricki said.

Gavin Mitchell, from Simsboro, Louisiana, led all scorers in the tournament with 24.5 points per game. Thomas Williams, a strong post player from Jonesboro, Louisiana, suited up for the Ruston Red Storm and led them with 17 points per game.

In it's first year, the Ruston Showcase attracted top teams and featured great competition. It was definitely a great first year to build on. Plan on seeing more teams from all over the country next time around.

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