PHOTO GALLERY: Big State Flava Jam
The Big State Flava Jam wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from Tiffany Jackson. The WNBA star is the daughter of the late Marques Jackson who founded DFW Elite program. Jackson, who’s taking a year off from the Tulsa Shock on maternity leave, sat on the bench Saturday as an honorary coach for the DFW T-Jack Elite.
Jackson wasn’t the only celeb in the house: Geno Auriemma, the head coach of the University of Connecticut and the U.S. Olympic women's basketball teams, was courtside for both games played by DFW T-Jack Elite, presumably watching Brianna Turner, who made an unofficial visit to Storrs this spring. Also mingling in the crowd were former DFW players Odyssey Sims, now point guard for the national champion Baylor Bears and incoming UConn Husky Moriah Jefferson.
Celebs aside, all eyes were on the court as bracket play opened, everyone anxious to see how some of the best talent in America would match up in the elite Marques Jackson Division.
DFW T-Jack Elite 61, United Basketball Elite 48
Brianna Turner continued to show why she is the number one player in the class of 2014. The 6-3 forward scored a game-high 20 points, thanks to wise shot selection and to her commitment to rebounding.
However, the score does not indicate just how close this game really was. In the first half, United gave T-Jack a taste of their own medicine with aggressive on-ball pressure. Ashley Ferguson, a 6-3 forward, had a handful of impressive baskets in the paint, showing she has the ability to take contact and still finish. Ferguson notched 10 points in the first half, while her teammate Labrittney Jones showed she could hit the three, as well as finish at the basket. United led at the half, 27-26.
United ran into difficulty when foul trouble forced point guard Candice Adams to the bench for much of the second half. With Adams out, the DFW guards took advantage. Diamond Lockhardt got to the basket repeatedly off the high pick, while McKenzie Calvert knocked down several jump shots, as well as a three-pointer, to lead to a 12-point DFW win.
West Coast Premier Black 48, Arkansas Mavericks Durham 39
West Coast Premier used a balanced inside-outside game to keep the Arkansas Mavericks guessing on defense. Six-foot-three center Monique Billings was dominant in the paint, scoring 10 of her 14 points in the first half. In addition, she was very active on the boards and her shot-blocking ability sent more than one ball sailing into the bleachers. Meanwhile, from the outside, Gina Gomez knocked down three of West Coast's six three-pointers. The game remained tight until WCP went on a 16-1 run to close out the first half.
The Mavericks were able to cut the lead to six by holding WCP to 14 second-half points, but it would not be enough. Imani Wright had an impressive game for the Mavericks, scoring a game-high 18 points. McKenzie Adams added nine, but Jessica Jackson was held to just one field goal and finished the game with only five points. West Coast Premier advanced to the semifinals with the 48-39 win.
Essence Purple 48, East Bay Xplosion Black 40
With two minutes in the game, the East Bay Xplosion (EBX) trailed Essence by a basket. The two teams had exchanged the lead multiple times throughout the game with no clear-cut favorite. But in the closing minutes, Neydia Petie stole the ball for a layup and Ieshia Small scored back-to-back layups, including a show stopping euro-step past her defender, to seal the 48-40 Essence win. Small had a game-high 18 points, while Shayla Cooper added 17 for Essence. EBX shared the scoring load among eight players, with Halie Bergman leading the way with 11 points.
WP Celtics 54, Oklahoma A-1 Premiere Red 52
The WP Celtics found a way to win a game in which the lead changed hands four times in the final two minutes. Oklahoma's Jessica Washington sank a free throw with 9.5 seconds on the clock to tie the game at 52. However, as the final seconds ticked off the clock, the WP Celtics carefully passed the ball up the length of the court, then fed the rock to Tashara Jones in the low block, where she banked in the game winner despite pressure from Oklahoma. Jones finished with nine points, while teammate Amy Griffin logged a game-high 13. Washington scored 11 points and Imani Davis added 10 for Oklahoma.
The victories set up the following semifinal pairings on Sunday:
West Coast Premier Red v. Essence Purple
DFW T-Jack Elite v. WP Celtics
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