The Griffin Grasshoppers 17U team competed with 150 different teams from around the world in the LeBron James Shooting Star Classic in Akron, Ohio this past weekend. The team finished first place in Pool Play after defeating a Washington DC team in their first game 81-61 and won their 2nd game over a team from Philadelphia, Pa., 70-38.
Those victories allowed the Grasshoppers to compete for the Gold with the other 29 teams that were also undefeated after pool play.
The Grasshoppers were the only team from Georgia team that advanced to compete for the Gold Crown. During their first game of bracket play against the Playground Elite from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Grasshoppers battled back from a 16 point deficit and managed to tie the score with less than a minute to play in the game.
Nevertheless, missed opportunities occurred more than once and the Grasshoppers had to foul in order to stop the clock. As time expired, the Grasshoppers watched their hard effort be washed away as they lost 61-58.
The Playground Elite was lead by one of the top 10 players in the Nation as he stood 6’10. After the game their coach commented and said ‘the Grasshoppers are a dangerous team to play. They are very scrappy and plays very hard. We are lucky to have won this game.”
That was the Grasshoppers first lost and hope was yet still alive. In their fourth game of the day, the Grasshoppers faced another undefeated team called MBC Elite from Cincinnati, Ohio. The team knew that this game was their last opportunity to advance. The Grasshoppers were very aggressive immediately after the tip and held on to a twelve point lead going into halftime. Once the second half started, fatigue also began to set in.
Although the players kept playing hard, the MBC Elite refused to fold. They managed to take the lead with three minutes remaining in the game. With 0.6 seconds remaining at the end of regulation, the Grasshoppers are losing 78-77. Dontavious Lee, from Crawford County HS was fouled and had two free throw attempts. Coach Duck Richards and the team were only hoping he made both free throws and seal the victory to advance to the next round.
Unfortunately, he missed the first one and made the second one sending the game into overtime. While in overtime, the Grasshoppers had a 84-82 lead with .10 seconds remaining and MBC Elite had possession. They shot the ball as time was winding down, missed, got an offensive rebound and scored sending the game to double overtime. The players were exhausted and operating on little fuse but the game is not over. Yet, during the second overtime the Grasshoppers displayed no energy as the MBC Elite won the game 98-91.
After this game the head coach from MBC Elite stated “This is the best team we’ve played all year. We have been blowing our opponents out by 20 points or more. All of the Georgia teams are good and we have major respect for the Griffin Grasshoppers.”
This was a wonderful experience for our program. Teams from across the States will always remember our program. We performed in the presence of major scouting services such as Rival.com, Inside Prep Sports, ESPN.COM, Scoutfocus.com, Sports Illustrated, Slam Magazine, Street and Smith Magazine and a host of college coaches.
Although the team was without Jackson HS power forward Christopher Head, due to other obligations. The slack was fulfilled by Micktavious Holt of Upson-Lee HS and Morris Mitchell of Lovejoy HS. They both amazed the crowds with high flying monster dunks. Cameron Solomon from Lovejoy lead the team in scoring consistantly shooting long range 3’s at will. Dontavious Lee also displayed his firepower of shooting 3’s.
John Harris from Loganville HS is the point guard that controled the floor. Zavier Preston of Union Grove played hard until injury caused him to sit out. Javon Wells of Eagles Landing HS was the sparkplug that came off the bench getting everyone involved while operating as the point. Other players that participated were Jermaine Hough, Ronte Bailey, Trey Hill, Ira Hughley, William Parker, Justin Green, Khalid Rajahn, and Coach Duck’s son Mike-Mike.
The team received a special treat when Former NBA player Harvey Grant (the twin brother of Chicago Bulls Horace Grant) who met with the team and gave them words of encouragement. His son is Jerian Grant with Team Takeover. He also allowed the players to take a group photo with him. In addition, the team visited LeBron James home and his former high school Saint Vincent Saint Mary’s. This was a trip they will remember for a long time.