Posted On: 03/17/18 9:14 PM

Saturday TSSAA crowned three state champions: Loretto, Hamilton, and Memphis East.

Class AA Championship: Hamilton (36-2) over Fulton (25-9)

How they got here: Hamilton rolled over both Whites Creek in the quarterfinal round, 84-67, then buried Livingston Academy 81-36 in the semifinals.  The mighty Wildcats really didn’t find much competition all season.  After dropping down from AAA the Hamilton program lined up for numerous state runs.  This was their first and boy, it proved successful.

Analysis: Since the AA draw came out Stratford and Hamilton looked set up to collide.  The Wildcats from Memphis Hamilton have long been the prohibitive favorite in Class AA.  Only East Nashville looked like a true challenger, though they stumbled against Stratford in February 27th.

Stratford did not truly meld as a squad until Christmas when sophomore Michael Wallace began his season.  The squad also needed to get Juwon Carpenter in the mix as he began the season on the shelf too.  Remember the Spartans from Nashville’s eastside finished a distant second in District 10 (3.5 games) behind East Nashville.

Alas, Fulton did not care about woulda, coulda, shoulda.  The Fulton Falcons proved to be the darling of the Class AA Tournament.  The Falcons knocked off the stronger, heavier, more powerful Stratford Spartans Friday night and clawed with the Wildcats until the very last minute.

In fact, Fulton lead with 2:39 to play.

The entire game came down to handling the Hamilton fullcourt pressure, which is relentless and powerful.  Fulton’s Edward “Dudda” Lacy endured the back-breaking task very well…until he didn’t.   During a 15-3 run, Hamilton forced the contortionist to wiggle his body in unfamiliar ways.  Lacy executed three magical dribbles, but a second defender struck with the destabilizing power of a cobra.  Lacy fell over once.   Another time the 5-foot-8 Lacy baseball passed the ball off his finger tips sideways.  For a player that rightfully earned All-Tournament team and braved the Spartan double overtime swarm for 40 minutes just 21 hours earlier.

Hamilton’s Wildcats

Hamilton finished off the feisty Wildcats with the late charge.  As good as the Fulton Falcons played in the first three quarters, Hamilton forced the ordinarily sure-handed FHS guards to spill six balls in the final quarter.

“We have to do a better job of finishing the game,” said Ronald “Trey” Davis III.  “But I love my guys.  They gave it their all.  What more can you ask for?”

For Hamilton, Martrell Brooks rightfully tucked away the Tournament MVP trophy.  he was tremendous.  Matrell’s 21 points and 14 rebounds astonsihed even his biggest fans.  PrepHoopsTN’s 17th best senior also made his free throws (77%) and hammered the undersized Falcons on the backboard, collecting a stunning six offensive rebounds.

“It came down to it,” said Dudda Lacy.  “We didn’t handle the pressure well.  I didn’t myself.  If I could have done better we could have come out on top.”

The pressure came from the pressuring guards of James DeJesus, Kevon McMahan, Jordan Johnson and then both Martrell Brooks and Julian Woods on the back end.

“I brought 17 teams down here and some really good teams,” said Fulton Head Coach Jody Wright.  “I don’t know that I brought a better bunch of warriors.”

Hamilton’s top scorer was Martrell Brooks, but the play of Julian Woods earned him All-Tournament team.  Woods was an unforseen spark for the Wildats, bringing down seven rebounds.  His ten points mostly came in the second half when the outcome needed determining.

Dominant
Hamilton: Martrell Brooks (2018), Julian Woods (2018), James DeJesus (2018), Kevon McMahon (2018)
Fulton: Trey Davis III (2019), Deshaun Page (2019), Edward Lacy (2020)

Class AA Tournament MVP: Martrell Brooks (Hamilton)

 

Class A Championship: Loretto (29-5) over Memphis Douglass (32-2), 74-67

How they got here: Treynor survived Wapello, 59-53, in the quarterfinals, then escaped a comeback scare from Aplington-Parkersburg, 75-66, to advance to the championship. Cascade has rolled over both Van Meter (60-47) and Sheldon (65-43) en route to the title game.

Analysis: Douglass earned the #1 ranking months ago and never faltered.  The Red Devils actually rattled off 32 straight wins entering Saturday’s finale.

Loretto emerged as a darkhorse by defeating three really quality teams.  First, the Mustangs from southern Tennessee defeated Carson Cary and Columbia Academy in a nail-biter.  The following afternoon Loretto downed a 31-win Monterey team filled with coach’s kids and an All-Tournament big man (Michael Cody).  Could the starting five of Loretto really manage to match the spirited, demonic fire of the Red Devils?

The Herculean effort required of Loretto was unimaginable only to those that didn’t know the team personally.

 

Dominant
Douglass: Antavious Buford (2019), Devyn Payne (2019), Jok Newbek (2018), Jordan Smith (2018)
Loretto: Ryan Weathers (2018), Kirland Surratt (2018), Will McBee (2018), Jacob James (2019), Jacob Hallmark (2018)

MVP: Ryan Weathers The baseball star (Vandy signee) Ryan Weathers labeled this “much tougher” than his baseball state championship.  “I can’t just throw a 90-mph fastball by them.”

 

James Wiseman gave his East Mustangs 19 points, 6 assists, and 3 blocks.

Class AAA Championship: Memphis East (29-3) over Whitehaven (24-7), 72-50.

How they got here: Simple. Memphis East just mauled every Tennessee team, even the unbeaten (in-state) Bearden Bulldogs and Blackman Blaze.

Analysis: Memphis East was always the elephant in the class.  Every coach and player in the state knew and probably hated the Mustangs from the jump.  The team did ingratiate themselves when they brought James Wiseman (Ensworth) or Ryan Boyce (Memphis Houston) on board.

They weren’t anyone’s favorite when they won the last two titles, largely by amassing the most talented team between our borders.

But Saturday they faced a familiar foe, the respecting Whitehaven Tigers.

Familiarity bred on-court contempt and five technicals marred an otherwise deeply clean game.  There was that aberration when Ryan Boyce skied for a dunk.

That hard foul and an earlier ankle injury sustained severely limited Boyce (PrepHoopsTN #4) in his last high school game.  The senior finished with 14 mintues, and just two points and six rebounds.

James Wiseman was the show (61.5% field goals).   The superstar and first-year Mustang dumped in 14 of his team’s first 18 points.  Both he and Chandler Lawson cleaned up the glass.

The size of East just overwhelmed the proud Whitehaven Tigers in the end.  In Penny Hardaway’s last game at the helm (will coach University of Memphis immediately) the Mustangs captured his, Malcolm Dandridge’s, Chandler Lawson’s and Alex Lomax’s third golden ball.

Players to watch
East: Alex Lomax (2018), James Wiseman (2019), Chandler Lawson (2019), Malcolm Dandridge (2019), Dee Merriweather (2019)
Whitehaven: Cameron Jones (2018), Alvin Miles (2020), Latrell Carter (2018)

MVP: James Wiseman