Posted On: 07/9/19 6:45 PM
Cameras, Prep Hoops writers, and a claustrophobic jamboree of fans flanked the sidelines of Wisconsin Playground Club’s 16U matchup with All In Gold Gauntlet. The prospects — and their brightly-hued jerseys to match — were the biggest draw from the 16U field, and kept the venue lively after more than 20 hours of basketball over three short days. A Cade Meyer dunk coming just minutes after the tipoff had players patting their heads to suggest that it was a poster dunk. Teammate Cam Palesse closed out the game with a 14 point second half, four of those tallies being clutch free throws that would close out a back-and-forth game. Mixed in between was an assortment of equally head-shaking highlights, all exuding the distinguishable scent of high-major potential. It’s summer basketball at its finest. Not-so-coincidentally, it’s oozing with Wisconsin talent
The Playground Club organization as a whole, through all age groups, was dominant this weekend. But as you’ll see below, they weren’t the only — and in some age groups, not the best — Wisconsin-based team to leave their fingerprints on the 2019 Summer Challenge.
Wisconsin RAP 17U:
Wisconsin RAP has no dalliance with a shoe company, and despite a cast of talented, possibly college-viable players, they were towards the back of the 17U picture during championship Sunday. That narrative would quickly unravel, as RAP sidestepped Wisconsin United, Team Speights, and Fundamental U Rise en route to a tournament championship. Funny, though, that they’re led by Wisconsin’s fastest rising 16-year old in Brandin Podziemski. The guard poured in 29 points for RAP in their championship game, his smooth stroke from deep and scoring instincts taking over when it mattered. Aiden Flynn and Gerald Gittens held the reins when Podziemski was more earthbound, examples being when RAP eked out a win against Team Speights in the semifinals. Flynn rattled off 18 points in that game while Gittens came up with 13 to fend off a Speights team that was free throws away from a championship birth.
Wisconsin United 17U:
United ran into RAP in the quarterfinals of Sunday’s action, putting a quick death to the coup they — more specifically, Jeremiah Burke — had at Illinois Basketball Academy on Friday and Saturday. The 6-foot-5 forward boosted his stock tremendously this weekend, churning out a 26 point, five trey performance against Illinois Bears. “He checks multiple boxes,” Prep Hoops writer Grant Matheny said of Burke, alluding to a solid defensive outing on Saturday, as well as a refined offensive toolset.
I made sure to shove Burke into the face of a college coach this weekend. It won’t be long before the whiff of a versatile forward sneaks under the noses of other schools.
Wisconsin Playmakers 16U:
Zac Johnson wooed Prep Hoops senior contributor Evan Flood into Illinois Basketball Academy on Saturday, his camera capturing a three-level scoring attack and 25 points. But the Playmakers ran into an Illinois TWolves squad that’s had a revelatory progression throughout this spring and early summer and were ousted prior to Championship Sunday.
Wisconsin Crusaders AD 15U:
During Battle of the Lakes — Prep Hoops’ most established tournament nationally — Crusaders AD arrived, a tad unexpectedly, into the 15U championship game. Though they would fall to D1 Minnesota, they set a standard that carried over to Summer Challenge. This time around, they fell in the quarterfinals to Hopson Elite. Still, they responded, beating Y&R – Robinson in their consolation matchup. Tyler Borowski and Carter Thomas shouldered the bulk of their scoring in Sunday’s action, Borowski firing from outside while Thomas found a handful of and-ones and tough layups around the hoop.
ABC Young Lions:
John Lovelace Jr. is no longer vying for recognition. We’ve woken up. He’s one of the better players in Wisconsin’s 2021 class, and it’s hardly an argument. Jayden Jackson led his Lions squad to championship Sunday, where they put up a valiant effort against Y&R – Brim in a loss. This is a program that, as a whole, succeeded all the way down to their 14U team making the championship game. It’s eerily similar to their players at one point, they were underrated. Now people are starting to come around.
Wisconsin Playground Club –
17U: Playground ostensibly had more of a toolset to beat Fundamental U, a familiar foe, especially after losing to them in the semifinals at Battle of the Lakes. Again, these two were matched up in the semifinals, and again, Fundamental U had their way with Playground. But that shouldn’t slow-play their win over All In Gold Gauntlet, or the fact that Johnny Davis had a few more highlight jams.
16U: A rocky start by the 16U team against Team Flyght Ohio in their championship game set the tone for a less-than-representative final performance from this weekend. A barrage of dunks from Flyght tempered a team that was hot to the touch after taking down All In. Cam Palesse, Hayden Doyle, Cade Mayer, and Brayden Dailey were all pinpoint shooters and scorers this weekend, while Gavin McGrath was a defensive stalwart who vacuumed up his fair share of rebounds and shot attempts. In principle, it’s safe to say they were the best 16U team. An average final game shouldn’t cast off their weekend’s successes.
15U: This age group had divided teams, Playground White and Black. But cleaving one super-roster into just as effective split teams meant both squads would make the 15U championship game. Playground Black did, but only by the skin of their teeth. A buzzer beater by Luke Haertle capped a 20-point outing and a win over JH1 Elite Ohio. All weekend, Haertle was and all-around presence at the forward position, his scoring continually getting better as the tournament progressed. The White team had much fewer struggles finding the championship game. Jack Rose put up a video game stat line through Sunday’s action, leading them past their side of the bracket.
*Wisconsin Blizzard – Sosinsky 17U: Blizzard won a game in the Platinum bracket on Saturday, but followed that up with a loss they knocked them down to Silver bracket, where they finished 1-1.
*Wisconsin Surge Davis 17U: Surge Davis went 1-3 this weekend, winning their final game on Sunday against Edmond Ballers.
*Wisconsin Surge Elite 17U: After losing their first game on Friday, Surge Elite went 3-1 in Bronze Bracket play.
*WI Starz Elite 16U: Starz lost in their initial Platinum bracket matchup, falling to the Gold Bracket where they finished 1-2.
*Wisconsin Hoops Select – Gilkes 17U: Wisconsin Hoops finished 2-2 this weekend in Bronze Bracket play, losing to Wisconsin Surge Elite on Sunday.
From 14U through 17U, each final four had one or two Wisconsin teams, and every championship game had one Wisconsin team. In a tournament overwhelmingly Illinois, Wisconsin-based programs surged through bracket play, tinges of purple remaining the constant on championship Sunday.
*Did not watch them play this weekend