This was supposed to be a down year for All-Ohio basketball according to many critics across the AAU scene. When other programs in the state seemed to be controlling some of the talent that All-Ohio traditionally would maintain, faith in arguably the state's top AAU program seemed to be fading. Behind the leadership of head coach Logan Brogden, All-Ohio Red's 16u group has defied the odds, while playing the All-Ohio way.
As Gahanna big man Nick Ward scored a team-high 19 points on Saturday afternoon, Red would control the paint in a 65-50 win over Team Thad to advance to the championship game of the 10th Grade AAU Super Showcase. Jumping out to a 10-1 lead in the game's opening minutes, Brogden's unit would play fast and furious, attacking passing lanes to win the battle in transition, while Ward was the anchor in the middle.
Heading into the second quarter with an 18-9 lead, All-Ohio would maintain its stranglehold on the game, taking a ten-point lead into the break. Whenever Team Thad looked poised to make a run, Red would respond, showing the type of resiliency that the unit has showed all summer long.
Falling behind by double-digits to Team Work in the quarterfinals on Friday, Red would make a furious second half rally to advance to Saturday's semifinal in a 67-65 win. While Red remained in control for the majority of Saturday's game, Brogden's team played with the same type of hunger that they showed the night before.
Extending its lead to 14 points by the end of the third quarter, Red would keep its foot on the gas pedal, as big dunks from Houston Smith (Columbus Africentric) and Trey Landers (Huber Heights Wayne) put an exclamation point finish to a hard-fought win.
With Ward controlling the paint, Wayne combo-guard Landers did everything else in between. Scoring 13 points, Landers would dish out a team-high five assists, in addition to three steals and a powerful alley-oop slam to cap off Red's victory. Landers, who has received very little recruiting interest, put on a memorable performance in front of various scouts and coaches on Saturday.
Landers' cousin, Dayton Dunbar forward Terrance Landers, finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, showing a versatile offensive skill set, knocking down several mid-range jumpers in addition to tough finishes inside. Guards Frankie Hughes (Garfield Heights) and Jalen Tate (Pickerington Central) each had productive afternoons on both ends of the floor, while reserves James Manns (Columbus Walnut Ridge), Smith, and D.J. Tyree (Columbus Northland) put in valuable minutes in both halves.
For Team Thad, Memphis Kingsbury guard Demonte Person led the way with 24 points and four assists. Person was Thad's top perimeter threat, continually stretching the All-Ohio defense as Brogden had his team pack the paint to limit interior scoring. Memphis Briarcrest forward Micah Thomas was the only player outside of Person to score in double-digits, going for 10 points and eight rebounds.
With the win, All-Ohio advances to play Baltimore Elite for the 10th Grade Super Showcase championship on Saturday at 6:40 p.m. Baltimore defeated King James Shooting Stars, 44-42, behind an acrobatic game-winning drive from guard Daquan Bracey (Baltimore St. Frances) with 2.2 seconds to go.