June 18, 2011
By Morgan Wenger
With many familiar faces participating in Dawg Days Basketball 2011, it was a newcomer that took home the grand prize. Good Ole Days was able to rally from a 1-0 deficit in the championship series to win the tournament when Tom Port drained a 23 foot three pointer to lift his team to a 30-27 victory over Team Zacour. Three of the winning team's members were first time participants in the event. Port, Rodney Overmyer, and Antwyan Reynolds joined tournament veteran Tim Vandervaart to form the winning foursome. Vandervaart was named the 2011 tournament MVP.
As play began, there were several of the most successful teams in the tournament's history eyeing the grand prize of $2,000. Many of them gave a valiant effort before succumbing to the intense competition. The MTown Ballers were comprised of many of the same players who went by the name Canton Ballers in the past. Their team included three time tournament MVP Angelo Edwards. The group had won four of the first five tournament titles heading into this year's tournament. They met a tough test right out of the gate in another Dawg Days Basketball stalwart, Team Zacour. This first round game was a rematch of last year's thrilling title series and a good barometer of just how tough the competition was going to be this year. The nip and tuck affair went down to the wire with Team Zacour pulling out a 30-25 win. Daniel Zacour led the way for Team Zacour with 15 points while Mario Edwards led the losing squad with 15.
Coming into this year, Team Jacko was the only team other than the Canton Ballers to win the tournament. Former tournament MVP Jeff Gibbs had his team thinking about winning the title again as they began play in the first round against a young, hungry Details team. Details fought the talented Team Jacko as well as they could, but were overpowered 30-19. Jeff Gibbs led Team Jacko with 12 points in the game.
Good Ole Days opened up their day with a 30-25 victoy over Mama There Goes That Man. They snuck by the Fantastic Four 30-26 to set up a winner's bracket final contest with Team Zacour. Team Zacour won the first of what would be many hotly contested battles with Team Jacko 30-28 to advance to the winner's bracket finals. Both teams showed an ability to score at a fast and furious pace in the winner's bracket final. Daniel Zacour was a tough matchup for every team in the tournament. He manuevered his way to 16 points to bring his team to the brink of a berth in the championship series. Not to be outdone, Tom Port displayed a soft shooting touch by leading his team with 16 points in the contest. No basket was softer than his final hoop. The ball kicked off the back of the rim and bounced up in the air about five feet before rattling through the rim for a game winner. Port's shot came after both teams missed several opportunities to finish the game.
With one spot remaining in the championship round, the action heated up in the loser's bracket. After winning their first games in the loser's bracket, the MTown Ballers and Team Jacko met in a rematch of the championship series of 2009. Behind some stellar shooting, Team Jacko was able to defeat MTown 30-24 to earn another game against Team Zacour. The game against Team Zacour was a back and forth affair with both teams hitting several contested three point shots. Late in the game, Team Jacko MVP Jeff Gibbs was ejected after protesting a call. This left his teammates, Antwaun Gibbs, Andree Mock, and Jason Elliot to fend for themselves against a very tough Team Zacour. Team Zacour built a 29-26 lead late in the game, but could not finish the game in any of their three possessions after that. Andree Mock got inside for the game winning layup to put his team into a great position heading down the home stretch of the tournament.
MTown had advanced through the elimination bracket with a couple of close wins against Details and the Fantastic Four. This set up an elimination bracket final between the MTown Ballers and Team Zacour. Angelo Edwards tried to make up for his team's sluggish start by hitting five three pointers, but Daniel Zacour was just too much to overcome. Daniel Zacour scored in about every way imaginable in totaling 27 of his team's points in the 30-21 victory. This left Team Zacour with the daunting task of beating Team Jacko twice to advance to the championship round against The Good Ole Days.
Team Zacour made it known that they would not go quietly by getting off to an 11-2 lead against Team Jacko. With Team Jacko settling for outside jumpers and not playing their usual gritty defense, Team Zacour was able to stretch their lead to 25-14 and looked to have the game in hand. Team Jacko responded by turning up the heat on defense and going inside to Jeff Gibbs to trim the lead to 29-23. Another technical from Jeff Gibbs let Team Zacour off the hook as Daniel Zacour knocked home the free throw to end the game. Jeff Gibbs led his team with 12 points while Daniel Zacour led a balanced Team Zacour attack with 10.
A more motivated Team Jacko came out determined to move past Team Zacour and into the championship series during the next game. They jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead before a series of technical fouls and ejections left them with two players and very little chance of winning. Team Zacour advanced to the championship round for the second year in a row with a 30-18 victory. The Zacour brothers handed Team Jacko all three of their losses that led to their elimination.
As has happened several times during the tournament's short history, the team who won the winner's bracket came out sluggish in the first game of the best of three championship series. Team Zacour built a big cushion early and never looked back in defeating The Good Ole Days 30-16 in game 1. Stephen Zacour led a very balanced Team Zacour attack with 10 points while Tim Vandervaart led The Good Ole Days with 8.
With their backs suddenly against the wall, The Good Ole Days went inside to Tim Vandervaart early and often during game 2. Using his precise footwork and smooth touch around the hoop, Vandervaart was able to keep his team close as Team Zacour tried to wrap up their elusive first title. Team Zacour had a very balanced offensive attack in game 2 with Stephen Zacour and Daniel Zacour both netting double figures. The Good Ole Days received a couple of timely three pointers from Tom Port and Rodney Overmyer to take a 28-27 lead late in the game. With their first title in sight, Daniel Zacour opted to shoot two contested three pointers to try and end the game on two possessions sandwiched around a defensive stop. If either shot had dropped, it would have capped off one of the most impressive individual performances in tournament history as Daniel Zacour was virtually unguardable the entire day. Paul Zacour was able to run down the second miss. The extra possession turned into a huge bucket that put Team Zacour ahead 29-28. The Good Ole Days went inside to Vandervaart on the next possession. He was able to draw a foul and was convinced by his teammates to attempt the free throw with the game on the line. Vandervaart drilled the free throw to extend the championship series to the third and final game for the third consecutive year.
As game 3 began, Team Zacour was throwing different defenders at Tim Vandervaart to try to slow him down. They did limit Vandervaart's scoring production, but his teammates picked up the slack to give them an early lead. Overmyer, Port, and Antwyan Reynolds all hit big three pointers to extend their lead to 25-16. Team Zacour was not ready to give in just yet as they rattled off five consecutive points capped off by Stephen Zacour's deep three pointer from the left wing. The Good Ole Days had a couple of chances to put the game away, but Tom Port was unable to convert a wide open three pointer and an easy putback under the hoop. Moments later, the score was tied at 27 with the championship hanging in the balance. Port caught the ball near the top of the circle almost 23 feet away from the hoop and shot over the top of Paul Zacour to give his team their first Dawg Days Basketball title. Daniel Zacour (12 points) and Paul Zacour (10 points) led their team during the final game while Antwyan Reynolds led The Good Ole Days with 10 points.
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