Gibbons: Team Nashville wins 17U championship


SUWANEE – The 17U finals of the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions had one team known across the country while the other is barely recognized around their own state.

So, whom do you think won? Team Nashville.

This Tennessee-based program beat Garner Road 67-45 to win the tournament at Suwanee Sports Academy on Sunday. The game was called at the four-minute mark, which the players on the bench knew and started celebrating their success. Point guard Cornelius Elder won the Most Valuable Player award orchestrating the dominating performance against a nationally recognized program. He finished with six assists. Being able to distribute the ball is the reason why Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee State, and Jacksonville have made offers to Elder.

“We have players that are willing to sacrifice scoring for winning,” Team Nashville coach Carlton Battie said. “I’m sure college coaches are wanting kids that win.”

Winning is exactly what Team Nashville has been doing. Nashville remains undefeated (12-0) in the early part of the travel basketball season. They controlled the flow of the game in such a dominating way that teams are having trouble solving their approach to the game.

Team Nashville’s methodical game plan was pretty simple. They went after the Bulldogs from every angle. Battie worked against Garner Road’s defense to find shooters like Asa Duvall. The 6-foot-2 shooter of Brentwood High drilled five three-pointers and finished with 15 points. He is hearing from Stetson.

Whenever he was not knocking down shots, 6-foot-3 guard Darius Thompson was an enigma on both ends of the floor as his high motor and skills led to 14 points, which helped him garner offers from Belmont and Murray State. He was able to help 6-foot-8 forward Joshua Phillips who was relentless in the interior for Team Nashville. He finished with nine points and nine rebounds. Matt Pond, a 6-foot-6 forward from Centennial High, finished with 14 points.

Garner Road, which finished runner-up in their second consecutive tournament, attempted to make a run late in the first half and early in the second but could not get into a rhythm. Leading the ways for the Bulldogs was Marcus Bryan who finished with 11 points. Devonte Graham poured in 10.

The All Tournament had Phillips, Graham and Anton Gill from Garner Road, Reggie Upshaw from the Nashville Celtics and Gary Smith from NC Storm.

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