FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- After finishing second last year, the Tennessee Flight Silver 16u, coached by Tom Insell, captured the Showcase 16U Gold Championship at the Battle in the Boro held in Franklin, Tennessee. Flight Silver last won the event in 2011. Other than losing a thrilling exhibition game (50-44) to Mac Irvin Fire Godfather, the Flight swept its three pool and five bracket games only being pushed to the limit in the final.
The college coaching attendance was a who's who of the game with representation from across the nation from the highest division one level through division two and three schools to junior colleges. The talent level was one of the best (if not the best) for open tournaments during the first week of the summer viewing period.
TN Flight Silver 16u 57, BWSL 34
This one was over pretty early, the Flight led 28-15 at half and never looked back. As one coach put it, the Boo Williams team was on the road, tired and got down early. They responded in the second half by cutting the lead to single digits, but the Flight went on run to pushed the lead back into double-digits using a physical man-to-man defense to shut down the Virginia-based team. Alexis Jennings and Janie White (6-2, center, 2014) led Flight with 11 points each for the game while Shrita Parker (5-7, guard, 2014) led BWSL with seven points.
Cal Sparks Gold 49, Indiana Elite - Bailey 38
The difference here was more talented depth and more seasoned players for the Sparks. The Indiana team, who's roster is primarily rising juniors, had to play without one of its stars (Ali Patberg, 5-10, guard, 2015) who sat out with a suspected leg stress fracture. Still they hung around for most of the game only trailing 21-16 after the first half. The Sparks slowly pushed their opponents further away in the second half. Lajahna Drummer led the Sparks with 15 points while Lindsey Corsaro (5-11, guard, 2016) led Indiana Elite with 10 points.
TN Flight Silver 16u 54, Cal Sparks Gold 50
This was one of the better games of the tournament. Whether it was fatigue or by choice, the game was played at a generally slow pace until the last few minutes of the contest. The Flight led 27-18 at the break led by co-MVP's Crystal Dangerfield and Alexa Middleton with five first half points each while seven other players also put up points. The Sparks, led by Lajahna Drummer's seven first half points, missed numerous second shot attempts that would have made the game much closer.
However, in the second half, some of those Sparks' shots started to fall and the Flight doubled its turnover count after posting five in the opening half. With just over four minutes to go, the Flight led 48-45 and with under two minutes in the game the score was tied at 50. The key sequence down-the-stretch occurred with just over a minute left, the Sparks' Jordin Canada was holding the ball for what appeared likely to be a last shot, but saw an opening and drove the key where Middleton defected the ball off of Canada forcing the turnover. On the next possession, Middleton attacked the basket and fed the ball to Dangerfield to give the Flight a 52-50 advantage with 58 seconds left in the game. Despite several chances, the Sparks never scoring again and were forced to foul as time ran down resulting in the final two Flight points. Brooke Copeland (6-2, forward, 2014) and Crystal Dangerfield led the Flight with 10 points each while Lajahna Drummer finished with 13 to lead the Sparks.
Alexa Middleton and Crystal Dangerfield of the Tennessee Flight Silver U16 were named Co-MVP's of the Boro. (Photo by Bob Corwin)
Below are the players chosen by the selection committee for all-tournament honors in the 16U Showcase Division starting with MVP selections. There were at least a dozen others who could have been considered from this talent rich field. All players are listed alphabetically assuming class of 2014 unless otherwise stated.
Crystal Dangerfield, 5-6, point guard, 2016, Blackman HS/TN Flight Silver 16u (Murfreesboro TN)
Dangerfield is already known as one of the best point guard prospects in the 2016 class. At the Boro, her presence on the court was essential for the Flight offense to run at peak efficiency. She handles the ball very well, is light on her feet and able to play good on-ball defense. She scores primarily via drives and mid-range jumpers. Her biggest needs are in-game maturation to cut down unforced errors and building shooting range.
Alexa Middleton, 5-9, shooting guard, Riverdale HS/TN Flight Silver 16u (Murfreesboro TN)
Middleton, already verbally committed to Tennessee, is a high school player with college level intensity. Having that, she raises the level of intensity of her team when on the court. Although primarily a shooting guard, she can fill in at the point. At this event, she did the little things: caused a turnover via a deflection; got a rebound by tipping the ball to a teammate and while scored her share of points in a balanced offense. Perhaps her biggest need is to improve her ball handling and further fine tune her shot. Together with Dangerfield, she helped make up one of the best if not the best, back courts in the event.
Other all-tournament team selections:
Ariel Atkins, 5-10, shooting guard, Duncanville HS/Duncanville Pantherettes (Duncanville TX)
Atkins has been featured on a number of write-ups since the beginning of the year. From an in-state star at this time last year, she is now considered one of the top guards in the 2014 class. This player, already committed to Texas, continues to improve her game, most recently by showing more willingness to go right (she is left-handed.). Offensively, she can drive, pull-up and shoot the three. She plays strong defense on and off the ball.
Jordin Canada, 5-7, point guard, Windward School/Cal Sparks Gold (Los Angeles CA)
Canada, committed to UCLA, is widely considered the best point guard in the 2014 class. Her scoring is done primarily via drives and pull-up jumpers. She does seem to be adding range, if only gradually. Due to her leadership, assisting and scoring, she would likely have been the event MVP had her Cal Sparks Gold club won the event instead of finishing second.
Dekeiya Cohen, 6-1, power forward, West Ashley HS/Georgia Metros 16 Nike (Charleston SC)
Cohen is a high energy, "never say die" competitor who has great jumping ability. She needs to add shooting range to insure success at the next level where she is now getting high major offers. At the Boro, she was the most consistent performer for the Metros.
Taja Cole, 5-7, guard, 2015, L.C. Byrd HS/ BWSL (Richmond VA)
Cole, a lefty, has played both guard slots for this team, but here she was used primarily at point. She appears to be settling into that position making fewer errors than last summer when her play was more up and down. With good quickness she can take the ball to the basket but also can shoot the three. She needs to continue to improve her ability to run a team but it is coming along nicely.
Napheesa Collier, 6-1, power forward, 2015, Incarnate Word Academy/Red Knights (O'Fallon MO)
Collier was one of the very top performers at the Boro and is being recruited at the highest level of the game. She runs and passes well. While right-handed, she goes left just as well when attacking the basket where she finishes strongly. She is a strong, physical defender. She needs to improve her ability to break down opponents with the dribble drive from the perimeter as some may see her as a college small forward. Currently she looks to do her scoring in the key and lower key at that. Look for this player to show up high on the Full Court Fresh 50 for 2015 when released in late August!
Sophie Cunningham, 6-1, forward, 2015, Rock Bridge HS/MV Eclipse 17 Red (Columbia MO)
Cunningham was the most consistent performer on a team which reached the Gold Division quarterfinals. Committed to Missouri, she appears to have added three-point range in addition to her ability to attack in the paint. Now she needs to build consistency there.
Lajahna Drummer, 6-2, power forward, St. Bernard HS/Cal Sparks Gold (Inglewood CA)
Drummer appeared to be coming back to her pre-ACL form in this event. She is a very physical player, strong at attacking the boards at both ends. Her scoring is primarily in the paint posting and facing up, so building range would be a plus.
Katelynn Flaherty, 5-7, point guard, Point Pleasant Beach HS/ NJ Demons (Point Pleasant NJ)
Flaherty has been profiled here on several occasions. BCS schools up and down the east coast are recruiting her. As lead guards go, she is one of the best perimeter shooters with three point range in the country.
Lashann Higgs, 5-9, point guard, 2015, Cedar Ridge HS/Texas Preps Elite 2014 Washington (Round Rock TX)
Higgs will also likely be near the top in the 2015 Full Court Fresh 50. She has great size as lead guards go and can break opponents down at a high level. She is deadly in the open court leading or finishing the fast break. This Texas commit could improve by becoming a more consistent shooter on the perimeter.
Myisha Hines-Allen, 6-2, small forward, Montclair HS/NJ Sparks Gold Elite (Montclair NJ)
Hines-Allen has great size for a perimeter player, handling the ball well. She can shoot mid-range shots and attack the basket. She led her team to the Gold quarterfinals. She still needs to become more consistent game-to-game. This member of our Fresh 50 is being recruited at the high major level.
Alexis Jennings, 6-2, center, Sparkman HS/TN Flight Silver 16u (Madison AL)
Jennings was the most consistent interior player for the Flight and thus was selected as Flight's third all-tournament team member. Her game is around the basket and she is willing to be physical. Likely to receive BCS offers, she needs to add more shooting range as her medium-solid build is more that of a forward.
Dominique McBryde, 6-1, 2015, power forward, Bedford North Lawrence/Indiana Elite - Bailey 17U (Bedford IN)
McBryde stepped up to take on additional scoring load when starting guard Ali Patberg went down, taking her team to the Gold Division final four. Verbally committed to Purdue, she does her scoring in the paint, both driving from the high-post and facing up or posting up in the key. Given her medium-solid frame, she could bulk up a bit and add more shooting range.
Brooke McCarty, 5-3, point guard, Clear Springs HS, Cy-Fair Team Amboree (League TX)
McCarty, committed to Texas, has regularly been written up on this site for her starring roles. She is widely considered the best player of her diminutive size in the class thanks to her shooting, passing and on court leadership.
Tory McCoy, 6-4, center, 2016, St. Thomas HS/Mac Irvin Fire Godfather (Champaign IL)
McCoy was the star of her team's exhibition win versus Tennessee Flight Silver 16u on Thursday night. Unfortunately, she got hurt (reported as ankle) and did not play in the first bracket game where her team was eliminated. Her superior post play prior to that was deemed sufficient for inclusion on this list. She is highly athletic with a strong presence around the basket. Her hands are sure and quick. She runs the court well and has decent ball handling skills for her size. While her game still needs maturation, she is considered one of the very best post prospects in the 2016 class, already a member of USA Basketball's U16 team.
Beatrice Mompremier, 6-5, center, 2015, Miami Senior HS/Miami Suns Team Fowles (Miami FL)
Mompremier's offense appears to be improving as she is adding post moves around the basket. In this event, she was most noticed for her shot blocking and rebounding. Needless to say, she is a high major prospect and strong candidate for the 2015 Full Court Fresh 50.
Christa Reed, 6-0, small forward, Bay St. Louis HS/SME Black (Bay St. Louis MS)
Reed performed well on a team that did not give her sufficient help to get into the Gold Championship section, thus finishing the event in the Silver Bracket (third and fourth place teams coming out of pool play). She is a wing to baseline player able to shoot the three, mid-range shot and drive to the rim. At times, she could play harder on defense. Needless to say, she is getting BCS offers.
Taylor Rooks, 6-0, forward, Gill St. Bernard HS/NJ Demons (Bridgewater NJ)
Rooks had to hold down the middle for the Demons that were a bit short-handed compared to the team that finished tied for third at the Boo Williams Tournament in April. Rooks can face-up at mid-range but most of her points come mid-key and in. She needs to improve her ball handling but is receiving high major offers regardless. Given their personnel (or comparatively lack of), a few players on the Demons (of which Rooks and Flaherty were two) had to do more than would be expected to achieve the success of getting to the quarterfinals of the Gold Championship. Thus the team got a second player on the all-tournament team.
Kristen Simon, 6-1, center, Windward School/Cal Sparks Gold (Gardena CA)
Strongly built, Simon was a constant warrior on the low block for the Sparks. By the championship game, she was playing through pain caused by a gimpy knee. As for her game, she still could add some more range but is getting BCS offers.
Special thanks to Joe Fenelon, Jack Harlow, Ray Rich and Kyle Turnham who served on the all-tournament selection committee with me.