August 7, 2010
By Morgan Wenger
The Canton Ballers reclaimed the Dawg Days Basketball title today at Village Green Park in Dalton after a thrilling 30-29 victory in game 3 of the best of three finals series against Team Zacour. The title is the squad's fourth tournament title in the five year history of the tournament. In addition to MVP Ricky Jackson, Canton's team included three time tournament MVP Angelo Edwards, Mario Edwards, and Keithon Poole.
After a heartbreaking loss in last year's tournament to Team Jacko, Canton was expected to make another strong run towards the title. Team Zacour proved early on that Canton's run would be anything but easy as they defeated Canton 30-25 in the first round of the winner's bracket. Team Zacour would roar through the winner's bracket by blowing out The Heat 30-14 and dismantling Team Barberton 30-16 to earn their first trip to the three game championship series.
After suffering the early setback against Team Zacour, Canton faced the daunting task of fighting back through the loser's bracket to reach the championship series. They handled Wayne County Swag 30-20, defeated The Heat 30-20, and then faced their stiffest challenge in returning to the championship round in Team Barberton. Team Barberton featured two of the players who were members of last year's Canton Ballers squad in Preston Owens and Tim Vandervaart. Canton escaped by the score of 30-28 despite missing numerous key free throws throughout the game. Ricky Jackson continued his strong play with 16 points to lead Canton while Team Barberton was led on the scoreboard by Darryl Owens' 11 points.
Team Barberton instantly had its eye on a rematch with Canton as they headed into their elimination bracket final against D-Block. D-Block reached the elimination bracket final by avenging an earlier defeat to The Heat in a spirited 30-28 game. Jacob Bolyard poured in 25 points for D-Block to help offset Kenny Kornowski's 16 point effort for The Heat. D-Block set the tone early in the game with some sharp shooting against the taller Team Barberton. DD Tillison played his best game of the tournament in leading D-Block with 16 points including a game winning 3 pointer that he banked in from 25 feet away. Jacob Bolyard had another strong game with 12 points. Team Barberton was led by Tim Vandervaart's 13 points.
This left D-Block with the unenviable task of having to defeat Canton twice to earn a trip to the championship round. Canton seemed to be hitting their familiar stride as they turned in a very efficient performance in disposing of D-Block 30-21. Ricky Jackson led the way offensively with 12 points for Canton while Angelo and Mario Edwards turned in a stellar defensive effort against the slashing Bolyard. Bolyard still led the way for D-Block with 9 points, but struggled when facing the length and quickness of the Edwards brothers.
This set the stage for what would prove to be a memorable championship series with Team Zacour. Canton jumped out to an early lead in game 1 behind some very intense defense and strong inside play of Ricky Jackson. Jackson bullied his way inside for several attempts near the rim while continually challenging the interior of Team Zacour's defense. As Team Zacour started to help out inside, Canton turned to the sharpshooting of Mario Edwards to carry them to a 30-24 victory. The younger Edwards nailed four 3 pointers on his way to a team high 14 points. Daniel Zacour paced a very balanced attack for his team with 9 points.
With their backs suddenly against the wall, Team Zacour sprinted out to an early 10-2 lead in game 2 behind three 3 point baskets by Stephen Zacour. Canton fought back into the game behind their strong defense and timely shooting of Angelo Edwards. After getting back into the game, their momentum was interrupted when Ricky Jackson was ejected from the game for arguing with the officials. With their leading scorer disqualified, Canton turned to Angelo Edwards to try to clinch the title in game 2. Edwards made several nifty moves to the hoop and connected on two 3 pointers to tie the game at 27. Paul Zacour scored a basket inside and then Daniel Zacour finished the game off with the final two of his 17 points to even up the series.
Game 3 was as intense as you would expect it to be from the start. Baskets were increasingly tough to come by as both teams had become familiar with each other's tendencies and the tenacity of each team's defense had picked up considerably. With Jackson back in the fold, Canton continually tried to go inside on offense. After having some early success, Team Zacour's David Zacour slowly but surely started to make Jackson's forays into the paint more difficult. As the game reached the 20 point mark, Canton started putting the ball in the hands of their former MVP Angelo Edwards. Even with Edwards scoring from inside and out, Canton could not shake Team Zacour. The main reason for this was Daniel Zacour. The forward hit several difficult shots throughout the game including a beautiful fadeaway jumper from the free throw line over the outstretched hand of Angelo Edwards to give his team a 25-20 lead. The elder Edwards promptly responded by drilling a 3 pointer to bring his team within two. Soon after this, Angelo Edwards scored his team's tenth straight point to tie the game up at 27. With Canton extending their defense to not give up a clean look from 3 point land, Team Zacour wisely took the ball inside to move within one point of the $2,000 grand prize. Canton seemed intent on ending the game without allowing Team Zacour another possession as they moved the ball around the perimeter looking for a 3 point shot. Team Zacour defended the play well and forced a long three point attempt from Ricky Jackson. Jackson had only attempted one other 3 point shot during the entire championship series and missed the shot badly off the rim and backboard. Team Zacour grabbed the rebound and tried to attack quickly to catch Canton off guard after they had failed on a very long possession. Daniel Zacour had the ball knocked away as he drove towards the rim. The ball bounced towards the top of the key where Jackson just happened to be waiting after his previous 3 point attempt. Jackson grabbed the ball and heaved a long 3 pointer that hit nothing but net to give his team the hard fought 30-29 victory and earn the 2010 MVP award. Angelo Edwards led Canton with 16 points in the final game while Ricky Jackson finished with 15. Daniel Zacour turned in a valiant effort for his team with 13 points while his brothers Paul and David chipped in with 8.
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