Although the MLK Shootout was much less ambitious than the first Gym Rat shootout-4 teams versus 8 teams-the competition remained extremely high. The Columbus Basketball Club hosted the second of three one-day tournaments in Columbus with a field that included 6th grade teams from Pittsburgh PA, Akron and Dayton. The initial game saw the CBC Gym Rats pull out a tester from the Centerville Hustle. In the second game, the Pittsburgh Ballerz defeated a very feisty Ohio Showstoppers team from Akron. What is most impressive about the challenge offered by the Showstoppers is the fact that the team is composed entirely of 5th graders.
Although Ken Taylor's Showstoppers headed north to Akron without a victory, the experience the players received may pay large dividends this summer at the AAU Nationals. The Showstoppers are arguably the top 5th grade team in Ohio and have consistently played up at the next highest grade level in search of greater competition. The Centerville Hustle finished the tournament 1-3, but the players fought hard the entire tournament. After the initial round of games, the championship game pitted the Gym Rats against Pittsburgh Ballerz, both of whom were 2-0. Although both teams entered the game with post players who stood 6'3 or taller, the difference in the game came down to guard play. Despite the fact that the game was close early, the Gym Rats' constant pressure wore down the Ballerz. In the end, the Gym Rats claimed their 10th tournament victory for the winter season and a 54-4 record.
Like the 1st shootout, the tournament drew some of the top rated 5th & 6th graders in the state. Top ranked 5th grade players included: #1 Stevie Taylor, 5'0 PG from Columbus; #2 Trey Burke, 4'11 PG from Columbus; # 4 Javon Clark, 5'0 PG from Akron; #7 Joe Lewis III, 4'11 PG from Orange; #12 Kris Taylor, 5'1 G from Akron and #14 D.J Bettinger, 4'8 G from RichField. Top ranked 6th graders included: #5 Cody Smith, 5'5 SG from Lima; #15 Kenny Deboer, 5'5 forward from Westerville; #18 Jared Sullinger, 5'8 post from Columbus and #21 Nick Turner, 6'3 post from Columbus. For the tournament, the following players excelled: Stevie Taylor; Brian Holsinger; Nick Turner; Javon Clark; Cody Smith & Tyler Sieron.
In other youth basketball action around the state, the Dayton Airmen hosted their annual tournament this weekend, and drew teams from Indiana and Kentucky. In the 5th grade division, the Indy Hoyas defeated the Northern Kentucky Wolfpack by a score of 35-15 in the championship game. In the sixth grade division, after defeating the Columbus Basketball Club in a thrilling semi-final game, Salvation Army went on to upset the Dakota Warriors by a score of 48-44 to claim the championship. As the spring/summer AAU season draws near, continue to follow OhioPrepScene.com for updated rankings, stories, and tournament results.