Sierra Canyon was the junior-laden team trying to make an name for itself in the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions. The Trailblazers fell on a buzzer-beater and are back looking to get the title this year.
Across the court will be a junior-laden Memphis East team that is trying to do what Sierra Canyon did last year and put the nation on notice after knocking off No. 3 Montverde on a buzzer-beater in the semifinals.
You don’t have to remind Remy Martin of how the 2016 Tournament of Champions ended. He witnessed it first hand, on the court.
Martin’s Sierra Canyon squad was denied a tournament championship last season after Oak Hill Academy’s Tyshon Alexander buried a game-winning, title-clinching 3-pointer at the horn.
The 49-48 loss still stings if you bring it up to Martin and the Trailblazers.
“We’re really excited to be back in this tournament. Last year, we lost on a buzzer beater. It was sad,” Martin said. “We’re here to win now. We want to show that we shouldn’t have lost last year.”
Sierra Canyon brought back much of its 2016 squad to Springfield this year. One notable name that graduated was guard Devearl Ramsey, who’s now playing at Nevada.
But one notable addition is 7-foot junior Marvin Bagley, rated by many as the top player in the 2018 high school class. He was ineligible last season after moving in from Arizona.
Bagley had 28 points and 14 rebounds in Friday’s semifinals win over Findlay Prep (Nev.) and teams with 6’9” UCLA commit Cody Riley to provide a stellar inside duo for the Trailblazers.
Add in lockdown defender Adam Seiko, a San Diego State commit, and the Trailblazers no doubt have the talent to claim this year’s Tournament of Champions title.
“I’ve been playing with most of these guys since the 7th grade,” Martin said. “Everyone’s so easy to play with. Then, to add Marvin… Everybody knows their role on what they’re supposed to do. Everyone knows how to win.”
Martin, the speedy 6-footer and Arizona State commit is the emotional leader of the group.
“We go as Remy goes,” said Sierra Canyon coach Ty Nichols. “He’s our leader. He’s a Pac 12-level point guard. Sometimes, his emotion does get the better of him and you have to pull him aside to calm him down. But you have to love the passion he brings to every game.”
The Memphis East Mustangs should have a good scouting report on Sierra Canyon’s core players.
Memphis East coach Penny Hardaway’s EYBL team – Team Penny – has seen a lot of Marvin Bagley III (also brother Marcus Bagley), Cody Riley and Remy Martin in the summer and spring EYBL leagues.
The aforementioned trio are members of the Phoenix (Ariz.) Phamily.
“I have so much respect for Marvin (Bagley), Cody (Riley), Remy (Martin),” Hardaway said. “I faced those guys in the EYBL. It’s pretty much the same team we faced in the EYBL.”
Memphis East comes off a thrilling, buzzer-beating win in the semifinals against Montverde Academy (Fla.). Alex Lomax, a three-star junior guard with offers from the likes of Cal, Florida and LSU, nailed a 3-pointer at the horn to give the Mustangs a 59-56 victory.
The Mustangs, a public school team, only have three seniors but all three contribute: Jayden Hardaway (Penny’s son, offer from Michigan), Radarious Washington and Nick Merriweather.
Memphis East won the Class 2A state championship in Tennessee last season, with Lomax being named Gatorade Player of the Year in the state.
Additionally, sophomore forward Chandler Lawson and junior guard T.J. Moss are receiving high-level Division I interest. Sophomore Malcom Dandridge has been offered by his hometown university, Memphis.
“Nothing is up-hill for us. We’re not afraid of anything,” Hardaway said. “We respect (Sierra Canyon) totally and understand what we’re dealing with. We’re gonna go play.”