Zero Tolerance All-Stars compete in Florida
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Four is the smallest composite number. Let me explain; a composite number is a number that has divisors other than itself and one. Four has two divisors, which are one and two. Now why are we talking about four? Zero Tolerance's All-Stars played in four games at the 2012 AAU 11th Grade Silver Division that was held last month in ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex.
The All-Stars dropped all three games in Pool E and their opening playoff game in the copper bracket. However, the tone of the All-Stars began and ended with talk of experience and learning from the best.
"It was a great experience," explained head coach Raheem Smith. "Our guys got an opportunity to see the talent that is out there. They fought and competed, as a coach I can't complain about effort. They gave me everything they had and I could see a bright future for the program."
The All-Stars that represented Zero Tolerance were Yanik Toure, Keita Jones, Kelvin Thomas, Elisha Arnold, J'Moi Smith, Ackhel Bazil, Raheem Huggins, Carlos Fondeur Jr., Jecoy Julius, Rowhann David, Dominick Pupura, and Shiquoy Webster. Coach Smith drew up the X's and O's, and was assisted by V.I. hoops star Kevin Sheppard, Jaime Francis and Alva Swan.
Sheppard joins the team after a long career as a professional basketball player, and is one-half of the most decorated players in V.I. medals history.
"I love the competition, but we have to prepare better," said Sheppard. "I'm already looking at supplements and nutrition that would help our guys grow and strengthen. We have to focus on each individual's power. Then we need to practice more against 12th graders before we go away to compete. But all in all, it's a win for me getting my feet wet and now knowing what we have to do to start producing Division-I athletes."
I asked the president and director what was his take on Sheppard.
"Sheppard brings a high level of knowledge that he could pass on to younger athletes," said Zero Tolerance President Boyd Todman. "His thing is giving back to the Virgin Islands youths, and to give them the same opportunity he had. With his addition, it helps us reach our goals, especially in AAU. We have the same views, and it's not about winning and losing in this tournament that has 150 plus teams. I want people to not look at each game's outcome. Coaches and scouts look at each individual performance, not a score. The tournament is about giving players an opportunity to showcase their talent."
"I love the pairing of coaches Smith and Sheppard," added Todman. "I saw them as teammates, and I am proud that their coaching styles mesh. They both hold one head, and I could see a bright future for the combination. Both had the same amount of input which is only positive for the youth."
As for why we are here, let's talk about the games and what happened.
Zero Tolerance opened the tournament against the Chattanooga Steam from Tennessee in the morning session on Thursday. A bad case of turnovers led to their 51-41 demise. Raheem Huggins was the team's top scorer with 10 points, and Kelvin Thomas added six.
Zero Tolerance also played a very reputable team against the New York City Vipers. The Vipers came in having won the 2012 AAU Super Regional 17 and Under Championship and the Staten Island Stingrays tournament championship. The Vipers needed a full 39 minutes and 42 seconds to put away Zero Tolerance, 52-51.
Zero Tolerance looked invincible as Ackhel Bazil threw down a two-handed dunk, 32-22, in the third quarter with 7:01 on the clock. The Vipers mounted a well calculated comeback with patience and ball movement. The Vipers completed their comeback when they took the lead, 48-47, with 2:06 remaining.
Elisha Arnold answered with a lefty layup, 49-48 giving ZT back the lead. Following a free throw to tie the game by the Vipers, Thomas drove down the lane and found Yanik Toure to give ZT another lead, 51-49. However, the Vipers nailed a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left to regain the lead. ZT had two opportunities to recover the lead but both attempts clanged the iron. Toure led ZT with 12 points and Bazil chipped in with 10 points.
On Friday, the Ivey 23 Terps were too much for the Zero Tolerance, 67-37, in both team's final game of Pool E play. The All-Stars could not do anything against the Terps' pressure defense.
Despite scoring the first basket of the game, the All-Stars found themselves down 29-6 at the end of the first period and down 47-12 at the halftime. The All-Stars played better in the second half and outscored the Terps, 25-20.
Bazil led the All-Stars with 15 points and three blocked shots.
With three loses, Zero Tolerance was relegated to the copper bracket playoffs. ZT then went on to fall to Mid State Magic, 73-53, Saturday morning. Toure led ZT with 14 points, while Kelvin Thomas chipped in with 10 points and three assists.
Making an impact
Virgin Islander Alvah Phillip and the Phillip clan made a guest appearance at the first game. Alvah Jr., better known as A.J., played with Team Heat from North Carolina. Team Heat finished in 12th place in the 16 and under gold division. Alvah also informed me that junior will be leaving Dudley High School in Greensboro for a private school.
Also making an appearance was the Farrington family. Young Malcolm Farrington is doing his due in the 12 and under division. The seventh-grader is a ready 6-foot-1 and has game to match. Coach Jameel Heywood and his Orlando Predators struggled in the 16 and Under division.
Finally, Jeramy Williams and the Mid City Magic finished 2-1 in pool play and lost both of their contests in bracket play. Williams played well, but could have performed better.
Agyei Gregory, Javier Martinez and Xavier Richards recently played Philadelphia in an AAU tournament. Gregory is coming off a Most Outstanding Player performance at the NBA West Division Hoop Group Elite Camp.
"I was just trying to put myself on the map, so I went hard and I came out with MOP, fortunately," said Gregory.
Speaking about putting in work, Angel Rivera recently won the Best Point Guard and Most Outstanding Player awards at Louisville's Five Star camp. He is presently a member of Lebron James' King James Shooting Stars team, and he was invited to the New York Super Showcase Five Stars event this month.
Lastly, LeRon Smith played with Orlando Basketball Club last weekend in the AAU Nationals.
- David Edole is a V.I. resident and sports enthusiast.