After going 4-0 at a Gerry Freitas-hosted event in southern California, the Soldiers 16U team headed to Indiana last weekend as part of the Nike EYBL tournament. The outcome: three consecutive victories sandwiched between a pair of three-point defeats.
On Friday, they lost by three points to the Las Vegas Prospects.
It was a trifecta of wins on Saturday versus All Ohio Red, Texas Pro Skills and the Indiana Heat.
Team United defeated the Soldiers by three points on Sunday.
to Coach Don Manning-Fuimaono who teams up with De La Salle Coach
Justin Argenal on the sidelines, "we have a very gritty team that grinds
out wins with strong guard play and a dominant inside presence."
best of all is "it's all business with these guys. We don't have a
'stats guy' and nobody cares who starts. We're trying to get them to
stay away from social media and remain focused. Call it a combination of
high character and good chemistry. They're learning the importance of
resting their bodies, stretching, icing, what to eat, and we don't have
to remind them of curfew. It's a great group."
a lack of height, "we didn't play a possession of zone. We rotate guys
around to keep everyone fresh. Obviously we want to win but it's important
that we focus on development and playing the game the right way. Winning
becomes a by-product."
Here's what Manning-Fuimaono said about some of the individual efforts:
* "Lavelle (Burbank High) Bailey played
with a bad ankle yet averaged a double-double every game. He's 6-foot-4
now and played the 1-5 spots. He was a mismatch problem against every
team we played. We ran isolations for him against bigger guys off the
dribble and posted him on the block to go against guards and smaller
* "Salesian Prep guards Jaden McClanahan and Jovon McClanahan are
the best on-ball defenders in northern California. Jovan emerged as our
leader and hit several big shots in clutch moments throughout the
weekend. He's worked hard on his pull-up jumpshot and it was deadly all
* "Prince (Fresno High) Gilliam was
our leading scorer. He was dominant in every game. He destroyed anybody
he was matched up against. He's gifted inside with great footwork and
thunderous dunks. By the second game, teams were running doubles and he
still couldn't be stopped. He was also very solid defensively with
several blocks in each game."
* "Tyler (El Cerrito High) Dixon El
Cerrito High can jump out of the gym and he had some great strong and
aggressive drives to the basket at clutch moments. He earned his way
into the starting line-up by shutting down the other teams best player."
* "Kimari Smith was
a spark plug offensively. He would come in and score in bulk. He's
gifted offensively and scores at all three levels. He made great plays
with the ball in his hands and hit big shots off the ball. He had a
* "Earvin (Burbank High) Knox ran
the pick and roll with Prince to perfection. Most of their possessions
together resulted in easy dunks for Prince. He was able to get everybody
involved in the offense and create easy scoring opportunities for his
teammates. He led us in assists in every game he played."