Team basketball is a beautiful thing. For Nova Village's 16u group, team basketball is the only thing. In a difficult matchup vs. Team TGAND out of Memphis in the 10th Grade quarterfinals at AAU Nationals in Louisville, Nova Village once again relied on balanced scoring and team defense in a crucial 38-33 victory.
Trailing 33-30 with 4:26 remaining, Nova Village would hold its opponents scoreless for the remainder of the game, tightening up defensive pressure, while 2016 guard Kyren McClure scored six of his eight points in the game's most crucial moment.
Johnstown power forward Jason Carter led all Nova scorers with 10 points, in addition to a game-high 11 rebounds. After a successful weekend in Cincinnati last week at Adidas All In, Carter has brought his impressive post play to Louisville, excelling with the right hook shot over taller defenders.
McClure and Columbus Walnut Ridge shooting guard Tarik Wright each finished with eight points, as both guards hit crucial free throws down the stretch to secure the win. Wright, who reportedly received an offer from Northern Kentucky several weeks ago, has been an instrumental part to this Nova Village team, providing scoring from all spots on the floor, while being able to defend up to four positions.
The unsung hero from Sunday, Westerville South point guard Daylan Haynie, came off the bench to provide seven crucial points, including two strong drives to the rim, drawing fouls on each. Haynie has filled in for McClure in crucial moments in this tournament, and has looked unfazed in the face of tight defensive pressure.
Defense wins championships, and with Sunday night's win, Nova Village stands one game away from playing for the 10th Grade AAU National Title. Nova Village will face Georgia Heat on Monday at 10:40 a.m. at Freedom Hall in Louisville.
Sunday's Top Performers
Elijah Pughsley (6'2 PG / Lima Senior / 2015):
As the Lima Senior guard has begun to rack up several low-major offers, Pughsley took his game to a new level in a 59-57 win over Team Richmond on Sunday night. Scoring 34 of his team's 59 points, Pughsley would hit a go-ahead three with ten seconds remaining, only to come back and knock down the game-winning free-throws some eight seconds later after Richmond had tied the game up. Picking up an offer from Western Carolina roughly a week ago, Pughsley has been one of Ohio's better 2015 guards in July, saving his best performances for the perfect time. Moving on to Lima Senior after a one-year stop at Cincinnati Hughes, look for Pughsley to help the Spartans form one of the state's top backcourts under new coach Quincey Simpson.
Katwan Singleton (6'5 SF / Defiance / 2015):
Arguably the most productive player of all on Sunday, Singleton posted yet another double-double in leading King James Runnin' Rebels to a 72-61 win over Memphis Bulls to advance to Monday for a chance to play for 10th Place. After a 21-point, 14-rebound outbreak in a win vs. West Side Elite earlier in the day, Singleton's 18 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals made the difference as King James opened up the second half on a 10-1 run to pull away. Singleton was helped in the scoring department by Tommy Bolte (Chillicothe) and Jaevin Cumberland's (Wilmington) combined 35 points in the win. One of the biggest stock boosters from this weekend, Singleton has done it all for his team, scoring in the halfcourt and in transition, while being one of the better rebounding small forwards in the entire event. Singleton just flat out refuses to lose, and has played some of his best basketball this weekend, all while battling knee soreness for the last three games.
Ledarius Woods (6'6 SF / Memphis Rosa Fort / 2015):
Matched up against Singleton in Sunday night's primetime showdown, Woods thoroughly impressed in a 20-point, 11-rebound performance in a hard-fought loss for Memphis Bulls. Showing a versatile offensive skill set, Woods knocked down four attempts from behind-the-arc, excelling in the catch-and-shoot, while using his incredible length to his advantage around the basket. Single-handedly keeping his team in the game, Woods was one of the better wing prospects that I viewed on Sunday.
Rodney Culver (6'5 SG / Pickerington Central / 2015):
Battling a nagging shoulder injury for the majority of July, Culver could've easily just packed up shop and rested for the high school season. However, the 6-foot-5 Pickerington Central guard has been somewhat of a trooper, playing through injury, and saving his best performance of the month in a close loss to the Illinois Spartans in the Elite Eight. Going for a team-high 16 points, Culver kept Ohio Varsity in striking distance in the fourth quarter, as the guard continued to slash to the rim, finishing on several difficult drives. Still only 16 years old, Culver has a degree of upside that not many guards in Central Ohio's class of 2015 possess, and showed flashes of what he can be capable of down the line for a college program on Sunday.
Chelby Frazier (6'0 PG / Chicago Thornwood / 2015):
If there's one thing that I've noticed about guards from Chicago, it would have to be the toughness that they bring to the point guard position. Thornwood's Frazier is no exception. Leading Illinois Spartans in a second half rally to take down Ohio Varsity, Frazier's 14 points, three assists and three steals would make a major difference down the stretch as OV had trouble keeping the shifty 6-foot guard out of the lane. With a quick first step and great vision, Frazier continuously made his way to the rim, creating scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates. An instrumental part to a Thornwood team that finished 18-6 this past season, look for Frazier to be one of the better guards in the Chicagoland area in 2014-15.