Basketball on the Bayou is one of the best AAU tournaments in the South. Highlights include AOT Lady Rebels vs Duncanville, Peak Performance vs Missouri Valley Blazers and Palmetto 76ers vs Houston Elite. Players highlighted: Diamond DeShields, Aja Wilson, Mackenzie Engram, Ariel Atkins, Lexie Brown and more.
Maybe it was the Southern hospitality -- or the Southern heat -- but the 10th annual Basketball on the Bayou got off to an unexpectedly entertaining start. After all, the first day is usually the time for big-time blowouts and catching up with old friends, but not this year.
Peak Performance 69, Missouri Valley Blazers Elite 63
In another pool play pleasure, Peak Performance National got pounced on by a Missouri Valley Blazers press in the opening minutes of the game, and it was quickly 15-4. It would take the rest of the first half for Peak Performance to regroup, but they slowly chipped away at the lead, using their size in the paint to outrebound the Blazers. With 30 seconds left in the first half, 6-2 forward Rebecca Walker (committed to Presbyterian College) sank a three to give Peak Performance a 32-31 halftime lead, their first since the opening minute. Guard Kelsey Barrett led the Missouri Valley with 11 in the first half.
The two teams swapped buckets to open the second half, but then McKenzie Engram took over the game for Peak Performance. The 6-2 forward scored 16 of her 22 points in the second half and grabbed 12 rebounds to help open up a 10-point lead for Peak Performance. Engram, a rising junior who was offered a scholarship by Ohio State in the eighth grade, is also getting attention from Florida, UCLA, Michigan State, Georgia and Georgia Tech.
Missouri Valley was able to cut the lead to five, but Peak Performance held the ball the final two minutes of the game for a 69-63 win. All ten players for Peak Performance scored, while Barrett finished the game with 19 points, Kelsey Brooks put up 16 points and Jaylah Jackson added 9. Brooks, a 5-9 guard, is considering offers from Kansas State, Purdue, Florida State, Arkansas and Clemson.
Recruiting updates from Peak Performance Elite
Sydney Umeri drives to the basket during pool play of Basketball on the Bayou (photo by Kelly Kline)
Six-two forward Sydney Umeri of Peak Performance Elite and Lovett High School committed to the University of Virginia July 17, after having narrowed it down to Virginia, Harvard, Georgia, Vanderbilt and Duke. The Cavaliers won out thanks to their strong basketball tradition and the great impression second-year coach Joanne Boyle left on her.
“Coach Boyle has turned a program around before and I know she can do the same at Virginia”, said Umeri about the former Cal coach. “She was very straightforward with me and I know she can get the most out of me.”
Umeri helped lead Lovett to the 2A state championship in Georgia this year and was also a member of the U16 USA Basketball Team in 2011.
A.O.T. Lady Rebels 40, Duncanville Pantherettes 38
Every every once in a while there's a gem in pool play -- and on day one of Basketball on the Bayou, the rare find was the A.O.T. Lady Rebels against the Duncanville Pantherettes, a matchup between state championship athletes from Georgia and Texas.
The Pantherettes are the summer team for Duncanville High School, the 5A Texas champion that finished 40-1 and No. 4 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 national rankings, and the club team features three starters from that group: 5-11 guard Ariel Atkins (2014), 5-6 guard Tasia Foman (2014) and 5-11 guard Kiara Perry (2013). And even though the Pantherettes are essentially a high school team, not an all-star team like most elite AAU clubs, they do just fine out on the circuit, as their Showtime Division title at Tennessee's Battle in the Boro last week proves.
On the other side of the scorer's table was A.O.T., stacked with some of nation's top players who also led their teams to state championships at several high schools in Georgia. Most notable is UNC commit Diamond DeShields, considered by many to be the top player in the class of 2013, but players such as Lexie Brown (2013, committed to Maryland), Mia Cooper (committed to South Carolina) and Te’a Cooper (2015, committed to UNC) are also very highly rated.
The first basket of the game was a pretty back door lob from DeShields to Taylor Gordon to put A.O.T. on the board first. Duncanville answered with a three-pointer from Perry, and then Brown drained a three on the other end to put A.O.T. back on top. That pretty much set the pattern, as the two teams spent the entire game swapping buckets with six points being the largest margin either team would have. Turnovers and poor shooting plagued both clubs, but Atkins still managed 12 first-half points for Duncanville (en route to a game high 15), which is one reason why the 5-11 guard has received offers from Texas, Texas Tech, Kansas, SMU and Oklahoma State.
At the half, A.O.T. held a slight 25-22 point lead, but it didn’t last long as Duncanville rattled off six points to tie the game at 33. Both teams tried a full court press, but weren’t successful in creating a run, so it came down to the final minute of the game and who could maintain possession of the ball. A.O.T. built a two-point lead in the final minutes of the game, and then went to a stall to run the clock out for the 40-38 win.