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Southern Utah's 24/7 Hoops competes at the Adidas 3 Stripes Tournament in Anaheim, Calif. | Photo submitted

24/7 Hoops gains confidence and scholarships over summer season

LAS VEGAS – The 24/7 Hoops boys high school-age basketball program season came to an end Sunday with the team, consisting of Region 9’s best along with a few young men from Copper Hills High School, took on the nation’s best teams over the last three weeks during the “live recruiting period.”

The final week of the “live period” featured the nation’s biggest event, the Adidas Super 64. The event is so big that the finals are live on the CBS Sports network. There are so many teams that the tournament has to use 35 gyms at 18 different locations.

The southern Utah team, 24/7 Hoops, started pool play against the South Texas Irish, a program with six different players with Division 1 scholarship offers. The Irish started out hot, jumping out to an early 9-4 lead. 24/7 Hoops finally settled down and began to play with the Irish.

Unfortunately, just five minutes into the game 24/7’s second-leading scorer and one of its best defenders, Gabe Jensen, tore his ACL. It is the second major injury to a Snow Canyon player this summer, with Chandler Gines going down to a similar injury a couple of weeks ago. In the game, 24/7 Hoops was never able to recover and lost by 21 points.

Many people questioned how the group of local student-athletes would recover without two starters. But 24/7 Hoops bounced back with a huge win over the Nor Cal Runners 69-39, led by Kallan Webster and Nate Gottfredson, two more athletes from Snow Canyon High School. Webster scored 18 points, all on 3-point field goals, while Gottfredson added 13 points and 11 rebounds. Gottfredson scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half. The 24/7 Hoops team held the Runners to just 17 first half points.

The final game of pool play was against Flagstaff Hoops Elite, a super-pool team just a week earlier in the Big Foot Hoops Las Vegas Live tourney. The winner of the game would advance to the gold bracket Final 64. Once again 24/7 did it on the defensive end of the floor, led by point guard Dallin Milne from Pine View High School. Milne, who game after game has had to guard the other team’s best players, thrived on the defensive end of the floor. He and his teammates held the Super Pool team to just two first half field goals and led at the half 33-14, eventually winning 64-37. Tyler Lazenby  led the way with 24 points. Milne, Gottfredson and former Dixie High star DeShon Brown were all in double figures scoring.

After going 2-1 in pool play, 24/7 Hoops advanced to the Gold bracket final 64 and took on Ferris Saxons from Spokane Wash. Lazenby once again the way led the way, scoring 27 points in the 52-41 win for 24/7 Hoops. Dustin Graham, Lazenby’s teammate at Copper Hills, added a double-double with 13 points and 16 rebounds.

The win moved 24/7 Hoops into the round of 32 against the Nor Cal Pharoahs and Noah Blackwell, who has received offers from almost every Pac 12 school and many schools from the Big 12 conference as well.

But the team wasn’t just Blackwell as the Pharaohs also had a 6-foot-10 center and two 6-6 wings that also have Division 1 offers.

The Pharaohs and 24/7 went back and forth trading blows, but the Pharaohs led at the half by 15 points. Team 24/7 was able to get the lead down to 10 in the early parts of the second half, but could not get the stops it needed to get within striking distance.

With three minutes to play, 24/7 Hoops was down 20 points and was watching its summer come to an end, but like all summer long, the team never quit. The southern Utah team was able to force some turnovers with its full court press and knock down some 3-point field goals and cut the lead to eight as time expired.

Lazenby led the way again with 23 points. He scored more than 20 points in all but one game. Brown added 11 points and Brady Barrett added 12 points. Barrett was with the team for the first time this week. Barrett, a new name to southern Utah, will attend Canyon View High School. Barrett’s dad, Jared, is an assistant at SUU.

The team of southern Utah stars went 3-2 in the biggest and best AAU event in the world, but AAU basketball is not judged by wins and losses, but by the number of kids you place into college and once again 24/7 Hoops did its job.

All three seniors on the team have college scholarship offers. Graham signed his college letter of intent to play at Eastern Arizona College. Lazenby and Brown have decisions to make with their families. Lazenby has offers from NAIA schools in Vermont and Oklahoma and a JC offer from a school in southern Texas.

Brown picked up offers from junior colleges in New York, California, and Washington.

The 24/7 Hoops program has now placed 56 kids into college since 2008. Once Lazenby and Brown sign their offers, that number will jump to 58.

“I learned so much with 24/7 and I gained a ton of confidence in my game,” Milne said. “I played against some of the best guards in the country and I held my own. I know I have college coaches interested in me and a few months ago I never thought I would be saying that.”

Webster added, “I grew a ton and can’t wait for the Region 9 season. Last year I was just known as a shooter, but now I feel I have a true all-around game.”

With high school about to start back up, 24/7 Hoops will hang up the jerseys until next March. The team gets back after it just one week after the high school basketball state championship.

For more SPORTS TALK, tune into Blake’s Take weekdays from 5-6 p.m. on KZNU Sports Radio – 93.1 FM 1450 AM – or online streaming live on the brand new KZNU Sports website: www.kznusports.com

sports@stgnews.com

Twitter:  @BlakesTake

Facebook:   www.facebook.com/kznusports

Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2012, all rights reserved.


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