The AAU held their annual National Championships at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort this past week in the 15U thru 19U age groups. We were able to catch the 16U title game between a pair of Florida teams. The Florida Phenoms, a group out of Naples, matched up with the Florida Rams out of South Florida.
The Rams got out to a quick 4-0 lead as Rodrick Johnson (6’5/Palm Beach Central/2021) put back a missed three and a few possessions later, Malik Renau (6’7/Mater Academy/2022) scored in transition. The Phenoms finally got on the board, tying the score at four after a lob dunk from Sergio Morency (6’4/Naples Lely/2021) and a steal and score by Jeremiah Dervil. William Van Hook (6’0/Palm Beach Central/2021) connected on a three for the Rams but the Phenoms quickly got back to within a point after a driving floater in the lane from Byntley Theork (5’8/Lely/2021). Renau scored in transition again for the Rams to make it a 9-6 game. A pair of baskets by Antonio Green (6’6/Naples HS/2021), a dunk inside then a baseline drive, game the Phenoms their first lead at 10-9. That didn’t last long as the Rams closed out the first quarter with a transition basket from Thaddeus Squire (6’5/Stranahan/2021) and a three from 5’9 rising freshman Michael Bradley (Mater Academy) to make the score 14-10 in favor of the Rams after one quarter of play.
The Phenoms quickly tied the game at fourteen in the second quarter as Maliq Dieudonne (6’0/Palmetto Ridge/2021) scored on the break and Theork connected on a baseline floater. Bradley broke the tie with another triple for the Rams. Dieudonne hit one of two free throws but was quickly answered with a drive and score from Renau. Devin Moore (6’5/Naples/2022) put back a miss for the Phenoms to get back to within two at 19-17, but a bucket inside by Renau and the third three in the half by Bradley gave the Rams their largest lead at seven, 24-17, with just over two minutes to play until intermission. A pair offensive rebounds, a dunk from Green and a tip-in by Moore, got the Phenoms back to within three but Johnson scored in transition just before the horn sounded to make the halftime score 26-21 in favor of the Rams.
The Rams opened up the third period with an 8-0 blitz as Renau scored inside, Van Hook connected on a drive and Squire put back a miss and later dunked at the end of the break. With just under six minutes left in the third quarter, the Rams had their largest lead at 34-21 and looked in complete control. Dervil finally got the Phenoms on the board with a transition basket but that was answered by a putback from Renau. From there, momentum shifted as the Phenoms ended the third with a 12-2 run. Theork scored in transition, Dieudonne hit a mid-range jumper off the dribble and both Nai Cook and Zach Avery each hit a three off the bench. Johnson scored inside for the Rams to stop the bleeding but Green scored on the break ten seconds before the end of the third. When the horn sounded, the Rams thirteen point lead had dwindled to three at 38-35.
The Rams seized early momentum in the fourth with a bucket inside from Squire and a free throw from Van Hook to stretch the margin to six. Two free throws from Theork and another mid-range “J” from Dieudonne got the Phenoms back to within 41-39 with six minutes left in regulation. Renau hit two free throws for the Rams but Morency put back a miss for the Phenoms in response. Squire scored in transition to make the score 45-41 with four minutes to play. Dieudonne scored on a drive for the Phenoms and then Moore tied the game at 45 with a put-back. Renau scored off a missed shot with just over two minutes to play to give the Rams a one possession lead. The Phenoms missed a three on their next possession but the Rams turned the ball over while trying to milk the clock as Morency scored off that steal to tie the game at forty-five. The Rams couldn’t get a good look before the horn sounded to end regulation, so we headed into overtime.
The Phenoms had the first opportunity in the OT but missed on a bucket inside. The Rams turned the ball over on their possession. A drive was off target for the Phenoms while the Rams missed a three on their second possession of the OT period. The Phenoms held the ball for the last shot and with five seconds left Dieudonne had the ball on the left wing and drove to his right. He pulled up at the elbow and knocked down the jumper with 2.2 seconds left. The Rams, with no timeouts left, could only walk away, dejected. The Phenoms earned the AAU 16U National Championship with a comeback 49-47 victory.
PHENOMS: Dieudonne – 11 points; Green – 8 points; Theork – 8 points; Moore – 6 points; Morency – 6 points; Dervil – 4 points; Avery – 3 points; Cook – 3 points.
RAMS: Renau – 16 points; Squire – 10 points; Bradley – 9 points; Johnson – 6 points; Van Hook – 6 points.