Loaded and Lodge dunk Team SCAN
MCT REGIONAL NEWS
By Devon Unger
The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va.
July 17--Markell Lodge's emphatic alley-oop dunk with 1:30 left to play sealed the 15-and-under championship at the Triple S Harley-Davidson Jam Fest.
Team Loaded, from Virginia, beat Team SCAN, out of New York, 53-44, Saturday. Lodge scored six points for Loaded, all of them on second-half dunks, including one where Lodge took a pass on the baseline and jumped over a SCAN player for a one-handed slam.
"My coach was telling me to just be patient, and it will come. So I just waited and they came," he said.
The two teams traded leads in the first half, but Team SCAN had no answer for Loaded's post players during the second half, as they frequently got behind the defense for easy layups.
Coach Elvin Edmonds said he credited the easy baskets on the inside to the play of his guards, who did well protecting the ball and finding the open man.
"We were able to get in the lane. I told the guards to get in the lane, and they did a great job of penetrating and getting it out to the big men," he said.
Guard Jonathan Williams had a team-high 12 points for Loaded. He said the defense started to slack off him in the second half, when he wasn't shooting well, but once the defense gave him some space, Williams was able to penetrate and finish up himself, or find one of his big men.
"They were sagging off of me because I need to work on my jump (shot) a little bit," he said, "but once they started sagging, they spread out the floor, and I was quick enough to get through them and get by them."
This was Williams' first time playing with the 15U team -- he was playing up from the 14-and-under squad.
Although Lodge's dunks and Williams' points stole the show on the offensive end, it was defense that helped Loaded build and maintain the second-half lead. SCAN players were routinely turned away by Loaded's post players, who forced turnovers and contested shots.
Edmonds said tough defense is "a staple of our team. We have a few kids come from North Carolina and all over, so we don't get a lot of time to practice, and our offensive execution is kind of lacking. We try to get after it on the defensive end to create those turnovers."
Edmonds was very pleased with his team's performance in the championship game and throughout the entire tournament.
"It was a great tournament, and a great test. The guys grew up and continued the play hard and make big shots all weekend. It's a great feeling."
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