June 20, 2009
By Morgan Wenger
Dawg Days Basketball 2009 tipped off this afternoon at Village Green Park. Twelve teams began the day with aspirations of winning the Top Dawg division prize of $2,000. When the dust settled, four teams remained while others pondered what may have been.
The top half of the winner's bracket was loaded with top teams from the previous three years. When you added newcomers Team Jacko to the mix, it made the action intense right from the beginning. The first round of games was highlighted by a rematch of last year's championship series between Team Owolabi and the Canton Ballers. Owolabi exacted a bit of revenge by defeating the three time defending champions 31-28. Team Owolabi is the only team in four years to defeat the Canton Ballers. They pulled off the feat two years ago only to watch Canton come back on the second day to take the title. Tyler Renner led the way for Team Owolabi by scoring 16 points in the contest.
The bottom half of the winner's bracket was a showcase of teams who were making their first appearance together at Dawg Days Basketball. The second set of games included a bit of an upset. The Bulldogs, made up of high school players from Dalton, defeated Top Flight 30-29. The Bulldogs were led by rising junior Jordan Boak's 17 points which were highlighted by five 3 pointers.
In the second round of the winner's bracket, Team Jacko faced Team Owolabi in a very physical battle that Jacko ended up winning 30-26. Jeff Gibbs led the way for the Columbus based team with 19 points including a rim rattling dunk that helped give his squad momentum late in the contest. Team Owolabi was paced by Jason Mishler's 14 points in a losing effort. That set up a battle between Team Jacko and Team Zacour with a trip to Sunday's action on the line. Team Zacour battled its way to a 22-14 lead despite playing without their leading scorer Daniel Zacour who was thrown out of the game after receiving a technical foul. However, from that point on it was all Team Jacko as they stepped up their defensive intensity and won the game 30-24 to punch their ticket to the final four. Once again, Team Jacko was led by Jeff Gibbs with 17 points while Team Zacour was paced by Stephen Zacour's 11 points.
The lower half of the winner's bracket quickly became a showcase of Lorain County and The Ballers. Led by Brandon Short's 18 points, The Ballers dispatched of the Bulldogs by the score of 30-18. The Bulldogs were led in scoring by JT Troyer's 10 points. This set up a match up between The Ballers and Lorain County with a trip to Sunday's final four at stake. The game was a nip and tuck affair the whole way until a Phillip Sales technical foul and subsequent ejection left The Ballers with only two players to finish the game while facing a 24-21 deficit. In amazing fashion, Brandon Short led his short handed team to victory by the score of 30-26. Short led The Ballers with 18 points while Lorain County was led by Josh Biber's 12 points. This set up the winner's bracket final between Team Jacko and The Ballers at 1:00 on Sunday.
In the loser's bracket, Team Owolabi lost to The WooBallers by the score of 30-28. This put the two time runner ups in the unfamiliar position of facing elimination after just their third game. Once again, Tyler Renner led a balanced Team Owolabi attack with 9 points while Edwin Hunter poured in a game high 17 points for the WooBallers. Speaking of unfamiliar positions, the Canton Ballers found themselves in the loser's bracket for only the second time in their four year tournament run after their opening round loss to Owolabi. They quickly found their groove by pounding the Massillon Ballers 30-7. After that, they disposed of Bailout by the score of 30-15. Finding themselves only two games from the loser's bracket final and another trip the the tournament final four, they overwhelmed Lorain County 30-14 to set up a much anticipated game between themselves and Team Zacour. As expected, the game was close the whole way with Canton moving ahead by 5 points as they entered the stretch run. With his team down 28-24, Daniel Zacour nailed a deep three pointer to draw his team within one. As both teams buckled down on defense the game was far from over. Both teams missed several opportunities to win the game due to missed shots and turnovers with the score 28-27. The game ended after Stephen Zacour's potential game winning three pointer rimmed out and Angelo Edwards was fouled on the rebound by Paul Zacour. The three time reigning MVP Edwards hit the free throw to send Team Zacour to the elimination bracket and ensure his team's spot in Sunday's final four. The Canton Ballers will play the loser of the winner's bracket final at 1:30 on Sunday.
All of these proceedings left Team Owolabi, Lorain County, and Team Zacour to fight for the final spot in Sunday's final four by advancing to the final game of the elimination bracket. Team Owolabi defeated an obviously worn down Lorain County team 30-21. Tyler Renner led Team Owolabi with 16 points while Josh Biber led Lorain County with 11 points in a losing effort. This set up a match up between two of the tournaments most successful teams with a spot in the final four st stake. The game started out close, but as the game wore on it was evident that Team Zacour had their hands full covering speedy Team Owolabi guard Jason Mishler. Mishler led his team in scoring with 12 points, but set up his teammates for numerous easy baskets after driving to the hoop. Team Zacour was led by Daniel Zacour's 12 points in defeat. Team Owolabi has now eliminated Team Zacour from the tournament in each of the past three years. Mishler will lead Team Owolabi in final four action at 2:00 on Sunday.
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