December 31, 2008

Champs crowned at T-Mobile Invitational

MORE: Wroten returns to the court | Favors dominates at T-Mobile Invitational

MUNCIE, Ind. - The T-Mobile Invitational had one big surprise and an intriguing championship game Tuesday night. In the title game Derrick Favors and South Atlanta faced off against the loaded frontline of Indianapolis Lawrence North. In the end Lawrence North came home with the championship, but that might not have been the story of the day.

Lawrence North shuts down South Atlanta

Coming into the game between Lawrence North and South Atlanta the question was how the Wildcats would handle Favors. Favors dominated Duncanville (Texas) a day earlier, and he looked like an unstoppable force. For a Lawrence North team that features five legitimate college prospects standing 6 feet 9 or taller, however, Favors proved to be mortal.

Stephan Van Treese, who by his own admission didn't come to play Monday night, knew he would be in the spotlight Tuesday. Facing off against Favors, Van Treese more than held his own. The Louisville commitment showed a better ability to finish, rebounded the basketball very well on both ends and played with a high motor. It was clearly one of the best performances that Van Treese has had in a while.

Joining Van Treese in helping Lawrence North down low was Dominique Ferguson and Ryan Taylor. Taylor led the Wildcats in rebounding and provided the energy and intensity that seemed to stun South Atlanta. Taylor didn't score very much, but he attacked the glass with reckless abandon. Even when Taylor didn't get the rebound, he tipped the ball to Van Treese or Ferguson for an easy bucket.

While Ferguson wasn't the player Tuesday that he was Monday, he still looked the part of a big-time player. Ferguson recorded double-digit rebounds by the end of the third quarter, and he was able to score down low as well as hit midrange shots. The only real negative for Ferguson was his abysmal foul shooting. Overall, it was a great two-day stretch for the Kentucky commitment.

With Lawrence North throwing bodies at Favors, he struggled. After going for 30 points and 21 rebounds Monday night, the South Atlanta star was held to 12 points and 10 rebounds. One of the reasons why his numbers were modest was because of foul trouble − he fouled out midway through the fourth quarter − but Van Treese and company were also physical with Favors, forcing him into tougher shots. And those shots just weren't going down.

Favors did get it going a little in the second half to keep the Hornets in the game, but with Andre Malone and Nick Jacobs struggling, they just didn't have enough firepower to compete with the Lawrence North depth.

Malone really struggled with his outside shot over the two days, and that came back to bite South Atlanta. Lawrence North went to a sagging zone and without his shooting touch from deep, the Hornets' offense stalled and Lawrence North walked off the court with a 58-44 victory and the T-Mobile championship.

Wroten returns to down Duncanville

The game of the tournament came in the consolation game when Anthony Wroten Jr. and Garfield (Wash.) stunned Duncanville, 57-56. Wroten wasn't even expected to play, but 30 minutes before the game he was given word that he could, and that led to Garfield getting some added motivation against the deep and talented Duncanville squad.

Wroten was obviously not himself in the game. Known as an athletic slasher who finishes as well as anyone near the rim, Wroten wasn't able to convert like usual. He missed numerous shots within 3 feet of the rim, and he wasn't in game shape. However, there was no denying his talent.

Garfield runs everything through Wroten, and with good reason. For a natural scorer, Wroten is very unselfish. He finished the game with six assists, including one on the winning jump shot with 15 seconds remaining, and he could have had more if his teammates had converted easy jumpers and layups.

The best play Wroten made was a pass. He received a pass at the top of the key and all in one motion caught the ball and zipped it directly to a cutter under the rim. The play showed incredible court vision and the natural ability to want to get others involved.

With Wroten and Garfield playing hard, Duncanville simply didn't match the intensity of the game. The Panthers held a 10-point lead with 4:19 left, but they couldn't hold it.

A big reason why was turnovers. Point guard Reger Dowell had seven turnovers, and as a team Duncanville committed 23.

The best player for Duncanville was clearly Perry Jones. Once again he didn't get many touches, but when he did get his hands on the ball he scored. Jones was 5-for-5 from the floor and finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds to go along with two blocks.

Outside of Jones, no one stood out. Texas commitment Shawn Williams had 13 points and seven rebounds, but he was only 5-of-13 from the floor. Dowell had 15 points, but his turnovers cost the team, and Roger Franklin only finished with eight points and seven rebounds.

To make a bad day worse for Franklin, he missed a pair of free throws with 1.6 seconds left that could have potentially won the game for Duncanville.

Despite the misses Franklin deserves a lot of credit. Some of his teammates weren't giving maximum effort, but Franklin played hard the entire game and showed leadership for a Duncanville squad that sorely needs it.



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