SAN DIEGO – Summer basketball for local team 24/7 HOOPS got hot and intense during the Double Pump Summer Tip-Off tournament
After finishing with a 2-1 record in pool play, the local AAU basketball team, 24/7 HOOPS, advanced to the final eight of the Double Pump Summer Tip-Off tournament before losing to the Road Runner Sports Club out of San Francisco.
“We set the tone early in the tournament against Oklahoma Impact,” said head coach Patrick Amico. “The Impact is a highly regarded team with Division 1 recruits. After overcoming early game jitters we posted an eight-point victory.”
Their only loss in pool play came in the next game against Excel Elite from British Columbia.
“We had some problems against their size,” said Amico. “They closed out well on our shooters. All five of their starters were taller than everyone on our roster.” In a defensive struggle 24/7 took the loss, 38-33. Dixie High School’s Jake Hawes led all scorers with 16 points.
The boys from 24/7 closed out pool play with a three-point victory over San Diego Pump and Run, 53-50. Pine View’s Cody Ruesch led all scorers with 18 points.
Then 24/7 began tournament play against the Colorado Miners.
“Another highly regarded team,” said Amico. “They had beaten some nationally-ranked teams in earlier invitationals. We pulled away early. They made a late charge and we were able to hold them off, 55-53.” The Dixie duo of Hawes and R.J. Wilgar led the team with 24 and 14 points respectively.
In the round of 16, 24/7 faced Prodigy Elite from LaVerne, Calif., which won the Elite Eight tournament in the Desert two months ago in Arizona and featured the only seven-foot player 24/7 would face. The task of defending him in the post fell to Ruesch.
“I’m not going to lie,” said Ruesch. “I depended heavily on backside help. It took a team effort to limit his touches.”
Ultimately 24/7’s full-court game again neutralized their a size deficit to run away 69-53. Hawes and Wilgar again led in scoring with 21 and 19 points. Pine View’s Chaz Peterson chipped in 14 points.
As 24/7 advanced to the elite eight, they faced Road Runner Sports Club from San Francisco.
“We finally faced a team that could match our full-court pressure and shooting,” said Hawes. “The only problem was they were also bigger than we were.”
“We played several games back to back to back,” said Wilgar. “It is no excuse, but by that time we were pretty tired.”
The game was intense and got physical. “In these large tournaments the officials tend to let teams play, rarely blowing their whistle,” said Amico. “This game probably got more physical than it should have. Hawes was on the receiving end of a pulling guard block that put him a few rows into the stands and Rahiem Page developed a shiner from a high elbow.”
The Road Runners, who would go on to lose in the championship game, were able to pull away in the second half to win 65-50. Hawes and Wilgar led again with 25 and 13 points respectively.
The team’s focus for the regional participants are to improve skills and fundamentals and to get the players in front of college recruiters and coaches.
“Hawes and Wilgar have drawn a lot of interest,” said Amico. “And Garrett Bowker (Pine View) also has several teams looking at him. A lot of times you see selfish play in these formats. But this team is not only sharing the ball, but doing it intelligently. That is an area where Hawes has improved considerably.”
The team consensus is that two players have vastly improved since last year.
“Izaic Blazzard does not even look like the same player,” said Wilgar. “He has lost 20 pounds, is much quicker and has improved on his shooting.”
Ruesch, who will be a sophomore this year for Pine View, also drew praise.
“I did not even know who Ruesch was before we began summer workouts,” said Hawes. “He is not only getting major court time but is one of our better players.”
The team will now head to Las Vegas for the Las Vegas Live Tournament. Play begins July 16.
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