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August 19, 2013
Say No Classic Championship:
Shelton Boykin (Antelope Valley/TBA) scored 28 points and Josh Gouch (Cal State-San Bernardino) scored 25 to lead Next Level Program to its 10th straight victory, a 102-95 win over West Coast Hoops, in the championship game of the Say No Classic.
Next Level, which lost its first three games of the season before Boykin joined the team, broke away in the final five minutes to get the win. Sam Natt (Mt. San Jacinto) broke an 81-all tie with a 3-pointer with 4:46 left, and Next Level led the rest of the way. Boykin hit a key 3-pointer with 2:10 left to make it 94-87 and put Next Level firmly in control.
In a league long dominated by Pac-12 players, the championship featured a pair of underdog types, manned almost entirely by players in and from the Junior College ranks.
All of the 15 players who took the court in the championship game currently play at a JC, have played at a JC or are likely to play at a JC this coming season.
And as much as Junior College basketball is all about second chances, so was this summer for both of these teams. They each began the season 0-3; West Coast Hoops lost three close games to start the season but Next Level struggled to even be competitive in its first two games.
But Next Level, coached by Mt. San Jacinto assistant coach Sean Hyland, won its last six games of the regular season and all four of its playoff games.
West Coast Hoops, coached by longtime JC assistant Julio Lopez, won five of its last six regular season and its first three playoff games to reach the championship game.
Sunday's title tilt featured two very evenly-matched teams in a game that was close all the way. West Coast Hoops started strong, jumping out to a 15-4 lead, but Next Level quickly cut the gap to just three points at 19-16 before the first quarter was over.
West Coast Hoops led, 26-21, at the end of the first quarter, but Next Level started the second quarter with a 13-3 run to take a 34-29 lead after a pair of baskets by A.J. Mathis (Victor Valley).
West Coast Hoops went back in front, 39-38, on a short jumper by Gerry Blakes (San Bernardino Valley) with about three minutes left in the half, and led, 48-45, at the break.
The lead changed hands numerous times in the third quarter, which ended with Next Level holding a modest 71-68 advantage. Codye Hatcher (LA Pierce) scored back-to-back baskets for West Coast Hoops to give his team a 72-71 lead in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
Boykin scored after picking up a loose ball in the lane to give Next Level a 78-72 lead at one point, but West Coast Hoops rallied to tie the score at 81 on a driving lay-up by A.J. Harris (Post University) with 5:42 remaining.
Natt broke the 81-all tie with a 3-pointer from the right corner with 4:46 left. He was also fouled on the shot but missed the resulting free throw.
But Next Level never surrendered the lead again. A 3-pointer by Jason Johnson (Cal State-San Marcos) with 2:40 left made it 91-85. Then Boykin's long 3-pointer with 2:10 left made it 94-87.
West Coast Hoops drew within five points as the clock approached the one-minute mark, but Montreal Harris (Concordia) made a pair of free throws for Next Level with 1:06 left to make it 98-91.
Gouch scored off an inbounds pass from Boykin in the final minute to make it 100-91, and Boykin scored on a fast break moments later to make it 102-91 and clinch the championship for Next Level.
For Next Level, Boykin led all scorers with his 28 points while adding 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. It is still to be determined where he will play this upcoming season, but he should be a big contributor wherever he ends up.
Gouch also had a double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Johnson, who is transferring to CS San Marcos, had 18 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. Montreal Harris came off the bench for 11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 4 steals. Natt had just 5 points but added 5 assists and, amazingly, a team-high 13 rebounds.
For West Coast Hoops, Blakes scored a team-high 22 points and added 7 rebounds, 4 assists, a block and a steal. Hatcher had a tremendous game with 20 points and 20 rebounds.
David Nwaba (Cal Poly SLO) had 19 points and 8 rebounds, and A.J. Harris had a strong game as well with 17 points and game-highs of 12 assists and 6 steals.
The championship game concludes another season of the Say No Classic, long recognized as America's premier college summer league. Here is a list of recent champions, along with prominent players on those champion teams:
Say No Classic/LA Pro City Champions since 20012013 - Next Level Program (Shelton Boykin, Josh Gouch, Jason Johnson)
2012 - no season
2011 - Hank's Top Prospects (Solomon Hill, Dwayne Polee, Antonio Biglow)
2010 - Hank's Top Prospects (Derrick Williams, Jordin Mayes, Antonio Biglow)
2009 - Hank's Top Prospects (Jordan Hamilton, Malcolm Thomas, Keion Bell)
2008 - Hank's Top Prospects (Malcolm Thomas, Marcus Johnson, Kyle Austin)
2007 - Hank's Franchise Boys (Alex Stephenson, Malcolm Thomas, Rico Tucker)
2006 - Hank's Team (Kevin BJ Bell, Jahsha Bluntt, Alex Bausley)
2005 - Hank's Lil Hoopers (Kevin BJ Bell, Jahsha Bluntt, Alex Bausley)
2004 - Hank's Team CTS (Dijon Thompson, Brandon Heath, Chris Davis)
2003 - California Team Select (Trevor Ariza, Marcus Moore, Dijon Thompson)
2002 - Hank's Top Prospects (Marcus Banks, Dalron Johnson, Anthony Davis)
2001 - Hank's Top Prospects (Tony Bland, Vili Morton, Rudy Williams)
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