Nanooks overwhelmed, Minnesota State Moorhead dominate GCI
by Aaron Walling
Minnesota State Moorhead Dragons went undefeated through the men’s basketball GCI Alaska Invitational to take first place. Second place went to West Alabama Tigers.
Minnesota State Moorhead Dragons:
Impressive play by the Dragons throughout the tournament led by the MVP Jordan Riewer who single-handedly defeated teams with his 3-point shooting. The Dragons strung together three wins against the Black Hills State Yellow Jackets, the Tigers, and the Nanooks. With Riewer scoring 17.2 points per game and shooting 56% from three definitely gives the Dragons a strong case to follow behind its leader where they have started the season 5-0. Also, forward Urbane Bingham was named to the tournament team, which is the top five players of the game.
West Alabama Tigers:
This was the most athletic team in the tournament while placing second. They held their own against most of the teams only losing to the Dragons. The highlight of their play was the comeback against the Yellow Jackets to force overtime. With only two minutes left in the game the Tigers mounted a comeback to win 81-77. Most of their impressive plays came on the shoulders of Lleon Tillman who rebounded the ball pretty well and kept up the defensive pressure to set up the fast break for Kenric McCants and Jarell Byrd. Lleon Tillman and Justin Wright made the tournament team.
It was a disappointing start to the 2014-2015 season with them sitting at 1-2. They were overwhelmed by the athleticism of the Tigers and the three point shooting by Dragons, but Coach Mick Durham isn’t worried.
“I learned a ton about our team,” said Durham after the tournament, but the season is still young and he believes that there was good out of the two losses.
The Nanooks lone win was against the Yellow Jackets on the corner three by Kyle Tomlinson, which was set up by the nifty passing by Ashton Edwards. The Nanooks defense will look improve on their poor three-point defense and look to cut down on turnovers. Ruben Silvas made the tournament team.
Black Hills State Yellow Jackets:
This team suffered two gut-wrenching losses at the GCI Alaska Invitational where they should have won. The first was allowing the Nanooks to knock down 13 threes in the game, one of those threes being the game winner. The other loss was giving up 10 straight points to the Tigers and lost in overtime. Their top player was Brody Brisk.
Top play of the tourney:
It is a toss up between Nanooks forward Kyle Tomlinson’s game-winning three and the Tigers guard Jarell Byrd’s put-back jam to steal the momentum against the Nanooks. Tomlinson’s three came with nine seconds remaining to put the Nanooks up by two on Black Hills State. While Byrd’s jam was a heck of a play coming down the lane on a missed shot to slam it home.