July 11, 2015
By Morgan Wenger
The Ballers swept Team Zacour 2 games to 0 in the best of three championship series to take home the $1,200 grand prize in Dawg Days Basketball 2015. The Ballers consisted of Angelo Edwards, Tim Vandervaart, Terrell Lipkins, and De'Marco Richardson. After getting big contributions from all four team members at different points throughout the day, the Ballers were given a team MVP award concluding their championship run. Although the winners went through the tournament with a final record of 5-0, they were challenged in each and every game.
With the depth of talent in the tournament being about as good as it's ever been, it was inevitable that some of the early rounds were going to feature championship game intensity. Team Zacour and Team Bonifant matched up in a game between two teams who had championship aspirations right off the bat. As they had done last year, Team Bonifant overwhelmed Team Zacour by a score of 30-21. Seger Bonifant led the way with 15 for the winners. The Ballers were able to dispatch of a quick, young A Team to advance to the semifinals on their side of the bracket. After another win for each team, the Ballers and Team Bonifant were ready to renew their championship game rivalry from the previous year in the winner's bracket finals. The game didn't disappoint, with the lead changing hands multiple times throughout a physical battle. Seger Bonifant continued his hot shooting day by pouring in 19 points. The Ballers were led by the duo of Angelo Edwards and Tim Vandervaart, who combined for 23 points. After both teams missed a free throw to win the game, Vandervaart was able to clinch a spot in the championship series for his team by getting his game winning free throw to roll in.
This left a bevy of talent in the loser's bracket. Team Zacour dispatched of Don't Curry Be Happy in the first round to set up a meeting with the A-Team. The A-Team defeated Your Pizza on their side of the loser's bracket. The young upstarts, led by CJ Simmons' 15 points, were able to defeat tournament stalwart Team Zacour 30-24. This set up a game between the A-Team and Team Bonifant. Once again, the A-Team proved they were up to the challenge by competing in an entertaining game that went back and forth several times. Jabree Lindsay, who ended up being the leading scorer in the division at 12.8 ppg, led the way for the A-Team with 17 points. However, Chris Morrow and Zak Kirkbride combined for 22 points to lead Team Bonifant to an eventual 30-26 win.
Although they were in the elimination bracket faster than anyone envisioned, Team Zacour wasn't ready to give in just yet. After struggling through his first 3 games, Daniel Zacour started to find his groove in the elimination bracket. He scored 12 points in leading his team to a 30-17 win over Your Pizza, and followed that up with a 14 point game as Team Zacour avenged their earlier loss to the A-Team by eliminating them 30-11. Daniel Zacour was just getting warmed up though. As was the case in 2014, Team Zacour was in the unenviable position of needing to beat Team Bonifant twice to advance to the championship series. Heading into the game, Team Bonifant had defeated Team Zacour three consecutive times spanning two years. Seger Bonifant did his best to put the Team Zacour fire out with some hot shooting of his own. He racked up 16 points, but Team Zacour used a balanced attack to escape with a 30-27 victory. This set up a win or go home elimination game for both teams, with the winning team advancing to the finals to square off against the Ballers. Daniel Zacour capped off his hot stretch of play by using a variety of shots and moves in exploding for 22 points to lead Team Zacour to a 30-23 win and give them the championship series berth that escaped them last year.
Although the championship series was full of long time tournament participants on each team, it would be a newcomer that would provide a big boost for the Ballers late in game 2. Led by Angelo Edwards' 12 points in game 1, the Ballers were able to stave off Team Zacour 30-25 in game 1. Although the game was never comfortably in hand until Edwards hit the game winning free throw, the Ballers maintained a 3-7 point margin the entire way after the game reached the 10 point mark. Stephen and Daniel Zacour scored 9 points each for Team Zacour, while Tim Vandervaart added 8 point for the winners. Game 2 took on a similar feel as the Ballers surged ahead and maintained a small lead throughout the game. Tim Vandervaart exploded for a game high 18 points, proving to be unguardable in the post, as he tried to will his team to victory. After leading his team back from the brink of elimination and into the finals, Daniel Zacour wouldn't go down without a fight. He caught fire in game 2, mixing up his post and perimeter games effectively to the tune of 20 points. His late charge culminated in a basket that had Team Zacour within striking distance at 26-24 late in the game. This is where tournament newcomer De'Marco Richardson put his stamp on the series by draining a huge 3 pointer from deep on the right wing on the very next possession. The backbreaking shot took the wind out of Team Zacour's sails, and Vandervaart sealed the deal with a free throw moments later. In addition to Vandervaart, Edwards, and Richardson, 2014 MVP Terrell Lipkins provided a steady scoring punch for the Ballers throughout the day. Team Zacour consisted of Paul Zacour and Darrell Parker, in addition to Daniel Zacour and Stephen Zacour.
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