Alabama Southern Starz top West Virginia Thunder in 10th Grade Division
By Bob Corwin
In part 1, the Elite Division (best rising senior teams or younger) of the 2018 Midwest Showdown was reviewed. Here the 10th grade Division will get a look. This group as a whole was strengthened by quality teams/players from as far down as 8th grade “playing up” to get more difficult opposition.
Picking up the action in the 10th Grade Division final…
Alabama Southern Starz 2020 – Bush 60-57 West Virginia Thunder 2020 Johnson
These opponents (or at least the majority of each) had beaten each other in the last year or so on the club circuit. The central theme of this game was to be tempo control. Alabama wanted to use its strength up the middle (point and low post) in the quarter court while this Thunder squad looked for a more up-tempo pace, particularly forcing turnovers and transitioning to fast break opportunities. A well-played final was expected and it was delivered!
The first quarter favored the Alabama strategy with scoring in the paint up 17-7 after one stanza. The second quarter (ending AL 27-22 WV) and third (finishing WV 42-41 AL) saw the pace quicken as the Thunder wanted. Also, they slowed down the Starz “Destinee (McGhee and Wells, see below) duo” who had combined for 19 of Alabama’a 27 first half points. The fourth quarter saw little separation with the Starz ahead by just a few points (similar to the final three-point margin) over the last two minutes. Better fourth quarter production in the paint was one key to the Alabama victory along with less transition production by the West Virginia side.
For the contest, the Starz leading scorers were McGhee with 20, Wells with 13 (9 in first half) and Keiara Griffin (5-11, forward, 2020) with 14 (primarily near the rim). The Thunder was led by Taziah Jenks (6-1, small forward 2020) with 16 points (often getting out on the fast break) and Madi Mace (see below) with 14 points.
Destinee McGhee (both game and division MVP) was a dominant post presence for the Starz at the event. With a very thick build (hard to get around her) and good hand, she regularly caught passes (often from point guard Destinee Wells, also on the All-tournament team) and finished in the lower paint. As might be expected, McGhee has interest from the D1 Power 5 level and down.
Special thanks to Harry Elifson who worked tirelessly with me throughout the weekend to select the all-tournament teams.
Players are listed alphabetically with listed height, position, graduation year, and club team. Home town is in parenthesis.
2018 Midwest Showdown
10th Grade Division
Katie Ball, 6-2, power forward, 2020, West Virginia Thunder 2020 Johnson (Williamson, West Virginia)
KK Bransford, 5-9, point guard, 2022, OH-Cincinnati’s Finest 2021 (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Taylor Cullinan, 6-2, forward, 2021, Team Elite Hansberry EYBL 16U (Dallas, Georgia)
Sania Feagin, 6-3, center, 2021, GA Pearls 2021 National Team (Ellenwood, Georgia)
Damiya Hagemann, 5-10, guard, 2021, Michigan Crossover 16U EYBL (Clemens, Michigan)
McKenzie Hoelscher, 6-0, forward, 2021, Dayton Lady Hoopstars 2021 Black (Fort Loramie, Ohio)
Lauren Lee, 5-5, point guard, 2020, Sparx Central Sparx Tommy (Liberty, Kentucky)
Madi Mace, 5-11, forward, 2020, West Virginia Thunder 2020 Johnson (Parkersburg, West Virginia)
Destinee McGhee, 6-2, center, 2020, AL Southern Starz 2020 – Bush (Madison, Alabama) MVP
Jasmine McWilliams, 6-0, forward, 2020, Nike Ladygymrats Gold JR. EYBL 16U (Carmel, Indiana)
Destinee Wells, 5-7, point guard, 2020, AL Southern Starz 2020 – Bush (Lakeland, Tennessee)
Olivia Westphal, 5-9, shooting guard, 2021, Western PA Bruins Cash (Bethel Park, Pennsylvania)