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Black Tanks Bag Another Dawg Days Purse
August 2, 2021
By David Lee Morgan Jr
Special to Dawg Days Basketball

Top Dawg Division Championship

It's called the top dawg division for a reason. That's what you have when the top dogs of the basketball court are playing for the ultimate prize. And the ultimate prize was $2,000 for the winning team. With so much at stake, you know, the competitive juices were flowing for this division.

Game 1

After a competitive bracket and pool play, the championship came down to Hand Down Man Down and the Black Tanks. And the Black Tanks were the White Shirts last year and won its second-consecutive title. So, the team was looking to win a third-straight title.

From Home Page The championship round consisted of a best-of-three format. In Game 1, Hand Down Man Down jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead on a power move inside by Phil Bledsoe, a former Glenville State standout. The Black Tanks cut the lead to 13-8 on a Marcus Ernst lay up inside.

Minutes later, Bo Furcron sank a free throw to put Hand Down Man Down up 18-10. Bledsoe followed with another free throw to put Hand Down Man Down ahead 20-10. However, the Black Tanks didn't let the game get out of hand. Ernst helped the Black Tanks go on an 8-2 run, thanks to two 3-pointers and a layup, cutting the Hand Down Man Down lead to 22-18.

Hand Down Man Down push the lead back to six (24-18 and 26-20), with the Black Tanks cutting the lead to 26-22 on a layup by Ernst. But Abe Valentine hit a jumper to put Hand Down Man Down up 28-22. Then, Bledsoe, who had a nice power move inside, was fouled. He went to the line to sink the free throw for the win, giving Hand Down Man Down a 1-game-to-0 lead.

Game 2

The score was tight from start to finish with the biggest lead of the game only four points. The two teams traded baskets early with the Black Tanks taking an 8-5 lead on a free throw by Trevor Cherry and 13-9 lead on a 3-pointer by Cherry.

However, this game came down to the last four points. Bo Furcron scored on a strong move to the basket to even the score at 26. But Ernst put the Black Tanks ahead 28-26 on a spin move to the basket for a layup. And Trevor Cherry hit a turnaround jumper giving the Black Tanks a 30-26 win and forcing a Game 3.

Game 3

In the third and deciding game, it was Hand Down Man Down jumping out to a 7-2 lead after an Abe Valentine jumper. But the turning point of the game came when the two teams started battling and talking back and forth. The referee had to stop the game momentarily to warn both teams against trash talking and arguing of calls. There weren’t any cheap shots or dirty plays, it was just that the stakes were high, and it was Game 3, winner take all.

Once play resumed with the Black Tanks trailing 9-8, Justin Miller scored on a nice move inside giving the Black Tanks their first lead of the game (10-8) and his basket completely turned the tide. In fact, from that point on, the Black Tanks never trailed, pushing the lead to 18-9 on a 3-pointer by Miller. The Black Tanks stretch the lead to 26-16 on a 3-pointer by Cherry and 29-16 on a 3-pointer by Miller.

Bo Furcron cut the lead to 29-19 on a three-pointer. But Trevor Cherry closed the game out with a long range 3-pointer giving the Black Tanks a 30-19 win, claiming its third-consecutive championship.

That's why people play, because of the competition,” Cherry said. “When you’re playing outdoors, it gets a little rough and tough, but it brings out that competitiveness in you. Everybody's on that grind to win.”

And even in defeat, Valentine felt honored to compete with talented players.

“Outdoor basketball needs to go back to where it was,” said Valentine, who played at Open Door Christian in Elyria. “People don't come out here and play. Everything's in the gym. It's always a good atmosphere when you play outdoors because it always brings out great competition.”


(Marcus Ernst, championship MVP, JoVohn Morrow, and Justin Miller, Top Dawg Division Champs.)

David Lee Morgan Jr was a longtime Cleveland Cavaliers beat writer for the Akron Beacon Journal. His 2003 book, The Rise of a Star: LeBron James, won him critical acclaim (American Library Association, Cleveland Magazine, School Library Journal) as an author.

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