By MARCUS HELTON
BOWIE, MD - The first session of the 2017 DMVelite Media Series took place on Memorial Weekend with two days of 15U, 16U and 17U action at Bowie City Gym.
RELATED: VIDEO PART I | VIDEO PART 2 | VIDEO PART 3
RELATED: MEDIA SERIES MEMORIAL WEEKEND NOTEBOOK
17U: HIGHER LEVEL ELITE
The Virginia-based Higher Level squad went a perfect 5-0 to claim the 17U crown, culminating in a 67-54 win over Crusader Nation.
Higher Level beat Fairfax Stars (51-41) and Maryland Sharks (71-65) on Saturday, and opened bracket play with a 76-53 win over Washington Warriors. They followed that with a 60-54 semifinal win against Team Renegade to set up the championship showdown with Crusader Nation.
Higher Level led 27-23 at the half, but blew things open the second behind Marcus Stephens (CD Hylton 2018), EJ White (Potomac 2017) and Drake Marshall (Patriot 2018).
“We played as a team, that’s why we won,” White said. “That’s really all there was to it; all the other tournaments we didn’t play as a team so we got cut short, and this time everybody played their part and we came out on top.”
Jermaine Hall (Severn School 2018) led Crusader Nation with 13 points in the final, while Cortland Nelson (Loyola-Blakefield) and Zep Guerria (Dunbar 2018) each had 10.
16U: MARYLAND MOVEMENT
A late entry to the event, Maryland Movement rebounded from an opening loss to reel off four straight wins en route to the 16U title.
Maryland Movement dropped its opener in 48-47 against Maryland Supreme on a tip-in at the buzzer, and closed Saturday with 54-34 win over 6th Man Warriors DC.
They reeled off three straight wins on Sunday, taking down Higher Level (60-47), Crusader Nation (67-63) and 6th Man 2020 in the final, 60-44.
Making Maryland Movement’s run even more impressive is that four of its players were fasting for the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan, avoiding food and drink from sunrise to sunset. They didn’t break the fast until the second half of the championship game, by which time they’d built a double-digit lead.
“Running up and down, not drinking water, no eating - it’s just so hard,” Movement guard Hasani Mustafa said, “but the reward is bigger. They subbed me out to get some water and to eat and break my fast.”
Mustafa (DuVal 2019) posted 16 points to lead his squad, hitting four 3-pointers. Anthony Bowman (St. Charles 2019) added 11.
Deven Dowdie (Pallotti 2020) led 6th Man with 12 points, while Jahmal Banks (Bishop O’Connell 2020) and Alex Williams (Maret 2020) added 9 apiece.
15U: DC PREMIER 2021
Premier’s 14U squad played up a division, but that didn’t slow them down at all as they went on an undefeated run to the 15U title.
Premier opened with a pair of Saturday evening wins over Crusader Nation (63-57) and Maryland D-Fenders (66-33), and opened bracket play Saturday with a tight 67-65 win over DC Blue Devils Blue to reach the title game.
They jumped out to a 20-point lead and held off a Crusader Nation run before opening it back up to win, 66-46.
Premier’s Zion Russell (Riverdale Baptist 2021) led all scorers with 19 in the title game, while Kino Lilly and James Gross, Jr. had 10 each.
“I think the turning point was when we were up by 20 and then we let them come back and get the score down to 12,” Russell said, “but then my team stuck together and turned it up and we went back up by 20 and finished the game off.”
DMVelite Media Series Memorial Weekend Recap
By MARCUS HELTON