Suffolk Blazers finish 1st, 7th in AAU National tournaments

Published 10:46 pm Friday, July 16, 2010

HAMPTON – For most AAU basketball squads, finishing seventh in the nation and winning seven out of eight games against some of the best competition in the country would be the highlight of the season.

For the Suffolk Blazers, while it was another excellent run in a big tournament, it wasn’t even the highlight of their month.

Earlier this month, the Blazers ran through six straight opponents to win the AAU Division III 12-and-Under National Championship title at the Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton.

The Blazers’ season will continue on, including playing in the Div. III 13-and-Under nationals later this summer, but these two tournaments were the center of their season says Suffolk head coach Kevin Davis.

“The big thing I want to stress is we have no stars. Everyone contributes and it’s a team effort,” Davis said.

“We came here looking to win it all again, but we still played very well and represented the city very well. All of our players are from Suffolk,” Davis said.

Two weeks ago, in the Div. III tourney, the Blazers beat squads ranging from Hampton Roads rivals to Soldiers Basketball of Indiana, 44-31, in the final. A five-point win in the semifinals was the narrowest victory in the 6-0 Blazer run.

There were more big performances this past week in the Div. II nationals. The Blazers beat North Carolina’s top-ranked team, N.C. Hustle, 58-53 in the group play part of the week.

After a 3-0 record in their group though, the Blazers dropped their first game in the championship bracket.

The Blazers rallied to win four straight games to finish seventh in the nation. Suffolk finished 7-1, capping the week with a 54-50 win over Conquerors Athletes for Christ.

It was an impressive three-point shooting display by both teams. The Blazers led 27-19 at halftime, but the Conquerors fought back to within 30-29 midway through the third quarter.

Hunter Astrop’s three-pointer stopped the Conqueror run for a moment, but the Conquerors took a brief lead in the closing minute of the period. Kevin O. Davis hit a three as the last seconds of the quarter ran out to put the Blazers up 38-37 going to the fourth period.

Suffolk held a slim lead through the last seven-minute quarter, but it wasn’t easy and the game wasn’t decided until the final seconds.

A basket in the post by Suffolk’s center, Jaquan Yulee, put Suffolk up 50-45 as the clock moved under two minutes.

After the Conquerors came back to make it 50-50, Yulee made one of two at the line with 0:44 remaining.

After Deshaun Wethington came up with a steal on the Conquerors’ next possession, Anthony Jefferson controlled on offensive rebound and scored, putting the Blazers up three with 0:22 left.

The Blazers got another defensive stop and Jefferson made one of two foul shots to make it a two-possession margin until the horn.

The Blazers really have been a true Suffolk team during the past few months. The team’s practiced at various times at Nansemond Parkway Elementary, Driver Elementary, Lakeland High and Hillpoint Elementary. The Blazers have been sponsored by Evolve, LLC.

Martin Astrop and Mike Thomas are assistant coaches for Davis. The Blazer roster is: Deshaun Wethington, Stacey Holloway, John Spearman, Hunter Astrop, Kevin O. Davis, Travis Ingram, Anthony Jefferson, Darius Bell, Jalil Williams, John Scott and Jaquan Yulee.