By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator
In a game full of stars on the professional and college levels, the Greater NC Pro-Am Tournament Championship offered one of the most competitive showdowns in all of summer league basketball. The stakes were high as New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton and D1 Sports had championship hopes on their minds in their contest against Cleveland Cavalier Jawad Williams and Hendrick of Durham.
D1 sports came out gunning from the opening tip, leaping out to a 10-2 lead after Duke's Andre Dawkins drained a pair of three balls. Williams responded on the other end, showing off his mid-range game hitting a step back jump shot and following it just seconds later with a lay-up. NCCU sophomore Nick Chasten added on to Hendrick of Durham's scoring with a baseline deuce, as his team climbed its way back into the game.
It appeared that Hendrick of Durham had ended the first quarter on a good note after former ECU standout Derrick Wiley nailed two free throws with just 2.9 seconds left on the clock, but Atlanta Hawk center Josh Powell hit a deep fade-away attempt at the buzzer to boost his team to a nine point lead.
The success continued for D1 Sports in the second quarter with Felton and Powell hooking up on several occasions. Their team led by as much as 15 in the second quarter, in large part because of Felton's offense. After Felton's trey ball to end the period, D1 Sports held a 68-57 lead at the half.
"He just took over the game," Williams said of Felton. "Whoever has to guard him, he's getting them ready for the next level."
The third quarter posed more problems for Hendrick of Durham as D1 Sports' Marcus Fisher continued to build on his sensational tournament. Fisher dropped eight of his 27 points in the third period, and was perfect on all three of his free throws in the second half.
Although they had little success on the defensive end, Hendrick of Durham had a big third quarter from the field as Wiley and Michael Deloach hit several shots that helped cut the deficit. With six seconds remaining in the quarter, Deloach hit a deep two pointer to trim the margin back to single digits as their team trailed 97-89 heading into the final period.
The heated atmosphere reached its peak in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter when Powell was whistled for his third goaltending violation of the game. His protest led to a technical foul that paved the way for Wiley to knock down a free throw that made it only a one point game in favor of D1 Sports.
Despite Hendrick of Durham's 9-0 run, Felton would not let the game get away. He fearlessly burst into the lane, getting to the rack and drawing fouls. Within seconds, D1 Sports' lead was stretched back to nine.
Williams and Wiley combined for 11 fourth quarter points, but fell short of sparking a run to get Hendrick of Durham back in the game. Felton and Fisher's backcourt dominance proved to be the difference, as D1 Sports won the third annual Greater NC Pro-Am Tournament Championship by a score of 135-124.
After leading a team to the summer league's championship for the second year in a row, Felton discussed the benefits from playing against such a high level of talent.
"It's a good thing to come out here and get a run," Felton said. "This is pretty much one of the best [summer leagues]."
While Felton and Powell both played significant roles in winning the championship, Fisher came away with honors for Most Valuable Player after his exceptional play throughout the tournament. Through three tournament games, Fisher averaged 16.7 points per game, but the championship contest was by far his most impressive outing.