By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator
Team Stackhouse threatened Team Navy's championship hopes with what could have been the comeback of the summer, but it was not enough as Team Navy escaped with a two point win.
Durham Hillside's Torian Graham, a class of 2012 recruit who holds offers from NC State and Xavier, scored 21 of his 34 points in the first half for Team Stackhouse. He established himself as his team's leader immediately, hitting an early pair of treys and also converting on the old-fashioned three point play.
While Graham turned in a sensational performance, Team Navy did what they do best; attack their opponents by distributing the scoring. Charles Ward, Dominique Sutton and Derrick Wiley all dropped in first quarter baskets, leading Team Navy to a 20-15 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
Team Navy went for the throat in the second quarter, as early buckets by Ward and Marshall's Johnny Thomas boosted the squad to a double-digit lead. The highlight of the night came midway through the second period when Mikell Faulkner found Johnny Thomas for a crushing alley-oop slam. Graham hit two free throws with 6.5 seconds on the clock to close out the half, but Team Stackhouse trailed by a score of 48-31.
A Wiley three pointer in the third quarter stretched the margin to 25, the largest deficit of the night. Team Stackhouse's E.J. Williams hit a three in response, but Wiley finished the quarter with the old-fashioned three point play that accounted for three of his 18 points.
Trailing by 19 entering the final quarter, Team Stackhouse began to claw back. Stanley Okoye led a run that closed the gap to just six points with a little over a minute remaining in the game. Okoye also got things done on the defensive end, rejecting Team Navy's shot attempts that would have put the game out of doubt. With 24 seconds to go, E.J. Williams found Okoye down low for a two-handed jam, making it a four point game.
After a Team Navy timeout, Team Stackhouse was able to get the steal and Okoye capitalized on two second chance points to make it a one possession game with nine seconds left.
Team Navy prevailed, however. Team Stackhouse was unable to foul, and Ward protected the ball as time expired. Team Navy escaped with the narrow victory, 77-75, and was crowned the regular season champion.