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. After the 16U title game, we stuck around for the 17U National Championship contest. This game featured the Jupiter Jaguars out of Palm Beach County and Team TGAND (Trust God And Never Doubt) out of Memphis.
A bucket by Antwan Smith (6’1/Whitehaven/2020) gave TGAND the first points of the contest but the Jaguars’ Eduardo Diaz (5’9/Palm Beach Central/2020) tied it with a driving lay-up. Smith hit one of two free throws for TGAND but Jupiter took a 4-3 lead after a drive by Kyle Feldman (6’0/Jupiter/2020). Smith knocked down a three for TGAND and after a score by Jayce Johnson (6’1/Washington/2020), TGAND had doubled up the score at 8-4 with 2:37 left in the quarter. The Jags tied the game after Bidje Pierre (6’0/Jupiter Christian/2020) scored inside and Diaz scored in transition. Xavier Joubert (6’6/Washington/2020) scored inside for TGAND with thirty-eight seconds left to go in the period. A final three before the buzzer didn’t fall for Jupiter and TGAND held a slim 10-8 lead after one quarter of play.
TGAND’s Kristopher Huntsman (6’4/Douglas/2020) hit two free throws to open the second period scoring. A drive and score by Jupiter’s Feldman was answered by a pair of free throws from Chaterio Parker (6’2/Washington/2020). A three from Josh Giesil (6’7/Jupiter/2020) brought the Jags back to within one at 14-13 but both Huntsman and Joubert each scored inside for TGAND to extend their lead to five at 18-13. Jupiter was quick to respond, this time with a three from Feldman and a score in transition by Giesil to tie the game. Smith broke the drought for TGAND with a driving basket but a three point play from Diaz of Jupiter gave the Jags a 21-20 lead with 3:36 to play in the half. That would be the last score for the Jags in the quarter. However, TGAND could only muster a mid-range jumper from Smith to lead by one at 22-21 heading into halftime.
Giesil knocked down a three to open the second half scoring and give Jupiter a two point lead. Johnson tied the game quickly for TGAND in transition. Feldman scored at the rim for the Jags but TGAND tied the game with a bucket inside from Joubert. From there, TGAND went on a 7-0 run as Johnson made one of two free throws, Huntsman scored on a drive, Joubert finished on the break and Huntsman capped off the run with a driving score at the basket. With just thirty-eight seconds left in the period, TGAND led 33-26. A long distance two with three seconds left by Diaz finally ended the bleeding for the Jags and with one quarter remaining, TGAND led by five at 33-28.
Both teams got off to slow starts in the final period as neither team scored until Parker connected on a three for TGAND with just over six minutes left. Feldman scored on a drive but Joubert responded to keep the margin at eight for TGAND. The Jaguars then made a push as Feldman had a steal and score and then Diaz connected on a three. With 4:20 left, the score was now 38-35 and anybody’s ball game. TGAND responded with a run of their own, 5-0, as Ananais Bennett (6’2/Douglas/2020) scored on the break, Parker hit one of two free throws and Joubert put back a miss to make the score 43-55 with 3:30 to go. Larry Scott (6’3/Jupiter/2020) put Jupiter back on the board with two free throws but Huntsman responded with a bucket inside. Jupiter had one more run left in them. Scott drove the lane and scored and Giesil hit three of four free throws to get back to within three at 45-42 with 1:20 remaining. Joubert scored inside for TGAND but Scott responded for the Jags to keep it a one possession game with one minute left. TGAND ran some clock, and Jupiter finally got into the bonus with twenty-four seconds left, sending Smith to the foul line. He made both, pushing the margin to five. Jupiter missed a three but TGAND turned the ball over. Jupiter missed another three on their final possession. The men from Memphis would hold on to win the AAU 17U National Championship by the score of 49-44.
TGAND: Joubert – 14 points; Smith – 12 points; Huntsmen – 10 points; Parker – 6 points; Johnson – 5 points; Bennett – 2 points.
JUPITER: Feldman – 13 points; Diaz – 12 points; Giesil – 11 points; Scott – 6 points; Pierre – 2 points.