FAIRBANKS - Balls Deep lived up to its name on Sunday afternoon in the men's division final of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hoops for Scholars Classic basketball tournament at Lathrop High School.
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The team, which included one University of Alaska Fairbanks athletic administrator and a few former Nanooks players, had deep shooters and a deeper bench to aid its 71-60 victory over TBG Office Solutions of Juneau.
Juneau feature six former Juneau-Douglas High School players and Fairbanks' Ryan Broker. Robert Casperson, Josh Lockhart, Chris Hamey, Ryan Behbahani, Joe Kemp and Erik McCormick also played for TBG Office Systems.
"There was great sportsmanship," Casperson said. "Everyone was saying good job, nice game at the end and that was 20 minutes after the game. That was a nice feeling."
Patrick Lee, UAF assistant athletic director, led Balls Deep with a game-high 22 points, including three 3-point baskets.
"My philosophy is to just shoot before they get to me; it's a lot easier shot that way," said Lee, who played collegiately from 1992-96 for Carl Albert State College in Poteau, Okla., and Idaho State University.
Balls Deep also got 13 points from Justin Bourne and 11 from Jushay Rockett, two former Nanooks standouts, to help it finish 4-0 among the 11 men's teams in the four-day competition.
TBG had four of its seven players score in doubles figures Sunday, led by 17 points each from Lockhart and Hamey. But the Southeast Alaska squad, which also got 12 points from center Broker, a former Lathrop player, and 10 from Casperson, was playing its third game of the day.
"You're hoping you have legs," said Lockhart, a former Juneau-Douglas High School and Biola University (Calif.) player.
Balls Deep had 10 players but Lockhart saw the opposition's physical dimensions as more of a challenge than its depth.
"We have seven guys, and I guess that team wasn't super deep, but they were just big and strong and they could shoot 3's," said Lockhart. "We had a little bit of a tough time matching up with them. We were doing our best trying to get out on their 3-shooters, but they could also take it to the rack, and it just makes it difficult."
TBG made for a difficult opponent for Balls Deep.
Lockhart's layup, generated by Casperson's steal, tied the game at 31 in the first 12 seconds of the second half.
Rockett's 3-pointer and Bourne's layup put Balls Deep ahead by five with 18:11 left, but treys by Hamey and Lockhart over the next 1:35 gave TBG a 37-36 edge.
"They're a really physical team and they had some good shooters from the outside," Lee said. "They're a really good team and they were competitive all day long. We played them twice today and we knew we were going to be in for a battle."
After Lockhart's 3-pointer, the lead changed hands six times before ex-Nanook Tyrome Flowers buried a 3-pointer with 7:34 left for a 49-46 lead for Ballls Deep.
Hamey responded with a trey for a 49-49 deadlock with 5:36 left, but baskets by Flowers and Jimmy Mapp over the next minute put Balls Deep ahead 53-49 and for good.
TBG also saw two players, Broker and forward Kemp, foul out late in the game.
"Once their big men were out of the game, it made it easier for us to play," said Rockett, "because that was the whole key, they isolated on their big men."
TBG Juneau 54, Hideout 48
Josh Lockhart scored 18 points as TBG Juneau defeated Hideout to open the tournament.
Chris Hamey added 17 points while Joe Kemp and Ryan Broker scored six points each in the win. TBG rallied from a 26-17 halftime deficit in the win.
TBG Juneau 56, Eielson Air Force Base 46
Ryan Broker and Josh Lockhart scored 17 points each and Chris Hamey added 11 points in TBG Juneau's win over Eielson Air Force Base.
Rob Casperson scored 10 points and Joe Kemp tallied nine points in the victory.
WINNERS' BRACKET SEMIFINAL
Balls Deep 62, TBG Juneau 58
Eventual-champion Balls Deep sent TBG Juneau to the loser's bracket with a four-point win.
Chris Hamey led Juneau with 15 points. Joe Kemp scored 14 points, Rob Casperson had 12 points nd Josh Lockhart added eight points in defeat.
Jushay Rockett led Balls Deep with 17 points.
LOSER'S BRACKET SEMIFINAL
TBG Juneau 64, Hideout 58
TBG Juneau fought back from a seven-point halftime deficit to beat Hideout.
Rob Casperson scored 16 points to lead Juneau.
Josh Lockhart had 15 points, Joe Kemp tallied 11 points and Ryan Broker scored 10 points in the win.