Area basketball stars win prime Ohio event

June 12, 1994|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,Contributing Writer

A bus with its engine running. A fourth game in eight hours to be played. That was the dilemma facing Eric Skeeters at 5 p.m. two weeks ago.

His team, Baltimore's Best, a group of local high school basketball players competing in the Midwest Future Showdown & Shootout in Columbus, Ohio had a semifinal game to play in the 17-under division.

At the same time, a bus that was chartered for the six-hour trip back to Baltimore was scheduled to depart at 11 p.m. A compromise was made -- at an extra charge of $25 per hour.

It proved to be worth the extra expense.

Baltimore's Best won the three-day, 56-team tournament, outlasting defending champion New York Riverside, 65-59, at Capital University.

"It was grueling," said Skeeters, who is the varsity assistant coach at St. Frances. "This was our goal. We weren't coming back with nothing less than a championship."

Shawnta Rogers of Lake Clifton was named the tourney's outstanding player. The 5-foot-5 junior, who is a two-time first-team All-Metro pick, had 12 points and five steals in the title game.

Alphonso Jones, a sophomore who helped Douglass to the state 3A title game, led the way with 17 points. Freshman Mark Karcher of St. Frances contributed 15.

Guy Butler, a first-team All-Metro selection from Woodlawn, and Dunbar sophomore Tommy Polley, were named to the all-tournament team.

The Midwest Future Showdown & Shootout, which is in its sixth year, ranks behind the Nike All-Star Camp and the ABCD Camp as the summer's top high school basketball event.

Taco Bell has sponsored Baltimore's Best in their two appearances in the tournament. Last year, Baltimore Best's was defeated by New York Riverside in the pool-play round.

The 56 teams involved this year were divided into 14 pools. Each of the four teams in the pool had to play three games, with the team with the best record advancing to the championship-pool round.

Playing in the BB pool on Friday, Baltimore's Best defeated the Wichita Jets, 59-53, and Cincinnati's 17-under AAU squad, 70-47, receiving 17 points from Rogers, 14 from Patterson's Colin Jones and 13 from Karcher.

It was on to Sunday's marathon round, beginning at 9 a.m. with a 72-57 triumph over Southern Indiana to win its pool with a 3-0 record. Karcher scored 16 points and Polley added 15.

Three hours later, Baltimore played the Pittsburgh J.O.T.S. in the first round of the championship pool. Karcher scored 15 and Rogers and Jones had 13 in a 73-70 win. Baltimore's Best moved into the semifinal round with a 48-43 win over the Kansas City 76ers Red team.

"As soon as we finished, we just relaxed," said Skeeters. "We drank a lot of Gatorade, but the games were spaced about three hours apart."

In the semifinal game, Baltimore's Best faced All-Ohio Red. With Butler scoring 12 along with Karcher and Dunbar's Marvis Thornton, who each had 10, it won 68-60.

Skeeters said Ernie Evans (Southwestern), Kenon Jackson (Patterson) and St. Frances' Keon Chavez, Greg Billups and Tavares Graham each made significant contributions.

"Everybody really played well for us," said Skeeters, whose bus arrived back in Baltimore around 7 a.m. that Monday. "If it was six minutes or 26 minutes, everyone gave 110 percent on the court."

In the 15-under division, Baltimore's Best didn't advance to the championship-pool round, finishing 2-1 in pool play.

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