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July 9, 2007

Houston Hoops take Summer Showcase

LAS VEGAS - There were no surprises on Sunday, as the Houston Hoops won the championship of the inaugural Rivals.com Summer Showcase presented by Vision Sports.

The quarterfinals began with a game between the Arizona Magic and Southwest Rebels Top Prospects. The Rebels played well in the first half, but the Magic turned up the heat in the beginning of the second half, putting the game away early and eventually winning 58-45.

2008 forward Aaron Fuller led the way with 16 points, while Arizona commitment Brendon Lavender was inconsistent with his shot and ended up with 11, as the Magic earned the right to take on the Houston Hoops in the semifinals.

The next quarterfinals game was I-5 Elite against Las Vegas Dogcatchers, in one of the most entertaining games of the weekend. The Dogcatchers rode their talented backcourt of Darian Norris and Mitrell Clark to an early 12-point lead.

Norris was hitting from outside and in, while Clark used his quickness to get in the lane, constantly drawing fouls. However, the play of guards Larry Richards (21 points, six three-pointers) Ameer Shamsud-din (17 points, three three-pointers) was too much, as I-5 caught fire from behind the arc and ended up winning, 71-59.

Norris (22 points) and Clark (18 points) both played well, combining with Elijah Johnson of Houston Hoops, Pierre Jackson of Las Vegas Rebels, Deremy Geiger of Marcus Banks Dynasty and Demetric Williams of Las Vegas Dynasty Silver to prove over the weekend that there are definitely some point guards in Las Vegas that can play.

The Moore Management OC Pride Gold took on Southern Nevada Powerhouse in the next game, with the OC Pride taking home an 81-75 win. Zach Zaragoza led OC Pride to the win with 24 points, while Leon Sutton had 26 in the loss.

With the quarterfinals completed, the semifinals were set up with the Houston Hoops, who had a first round bye, against the Arizona Magic, and I-5 Elite against Moore Management OC Pride Gold.

In the first semifinals game, the Hoops jumped out to an early start and were leading comfortably most of the game, but the Arizona Magic, led by Lavender, turned it around midway through the second half.

Lavender saved his best game for last, scoring 15 points with 10 assists and five steals, as the Magic crept back in the game by knocking down their three-pointers. However, the Hoops had just too much firepower in the end, winning 73-66.

Every game this weekend, a new player seemed to step up for the Hoops. This time it was Anthony Jones, who scored 23 points, to go with Jeremy Green's 12, Elijah Johnson's 12, Keith Gallon's 10 and Tommy Mason-Griffin's 10.

Jones did a good job of being aggressive, attacking the basket instead of settling for three-pointers. When Jones plays hard and goes to the rim, there aren't many players who can stop him at this level due to his athleticism and length.

Gallon had some nice post moves, but the Hoops had a hard time finding him the ball down low, and when he got it, he missed a couple dunks that the big man usually has absolutely no problem converting.

We didn't get statistics, but Moore Management OC Pride Gold defeated I-5 Elite in their semifinal game, setting up a contest against the Houston Hoops for the championship.

The finals were close throughout, until the last six minutes when the Hoops pulled away. OC Pride is filled with tough, competitive players, and in this game they had balanced scoring with Bryan Horton scoring 11 and Ryan Hill contributing with 10 to lead the team.

However, once again, the Hoops just had too much talent to lose the game and the title. Green, Houston's glue guy, hit several big three-pointers, and was huge for his team, scoring 26 points.

Green is such a smart player and will fit in very well in the Stanford system. He's a two-guard but you can trust him handling the ball, he doesn't force shots, finds his teammates, and hits the three if he's open.

Jones had another good game, scoring 16, Texas Tech commit Corbin Ray put up 13 and Keith Gallon had nine of his own. Tommy Mason-Griffin once again played well, taking the ball to the basket hard, as he did all tournament, as well as hitting open shots and creating for his teammates.

Mason-Griffin spent the spring recovering from an injury, but now that he's healthy, it's clear that he's improved his game from a year ago.

The Houston Hoops did a good job playing as a team all weekend long, with no one player trying to show what he's capable of. Everyone on the Hoops got the chance to display their game within the team concept and the end result was a tournament championship.

In the Gold division, Marcus Banks Dynasty won the championship over Las Vegas Dynasty by the score of 72-65. The backcourt of Deremy Geiger and Phillip Payne was too much for anyone in their tournament to overcome, and the duo played very well together all weekend long.

In the championship game, Payne led the way, scoring 24 points. The two-sport star also had seven points in the semifinals and 22 in the quarters, while Geiger scored five in the championship, 28 in the semifinals and 16 in the quarters.

The Vegas Rebels won the Silver division title, while Basketball Mathematics won the Bronze division championship.

Overall, the Rivals.com Summer Showcase presented by Vision Sports was a success, as a number of players who weren't well known by college coaches were given the chance to prove themselves, while well known prospects such as the ones on the Houston Hoops continued their solid play of the spring/summer.



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