By Scott Nickerson
The Stanhope Elmore Mustangs won three games in three days to claim the championship in the Montgomery Academy Tip-Off Classic, held on the campus of Montgomery Academy from November 25 – 27, 2019. Mustangs junior Daniel Jamerson earned the award for Most Valuable Player. The event featured the Mustangs, as well as St. Luke’s out of Mobile, Lochapoka, Prattville, LAMP, Marbury, Central-Hayneville, and the host Montgomery Academy Eagles.
After dropping their first two games of the season on the road at Greenville and LAMP a week earlier, the Mustangs picked up their first victory of the season in the opening round of the tournament, demolishing St. Luke’s by a score of 72-25. St. Luke’s is a Class 1A private school from Mobile and was winless on the year entering the tournament. Jamerson scored 20 points in the first half, and 26 total to lead the Mustangs. He also had eight rebounds. Junior Guard Jaden Tillman scored 18 points for Stanhope Elmore and Sed Hall added 15 points. The Mustangs held a 65-23 lead at the end of three quarters, and Jamerson, Tillman, and Hall didn’t play in the final quarter or else their totals could have been even higher.
Stanhope Elmore’s Basketball Coach Terry Hardy is in his third year leading the Mustang’s program. “We made improvements on some stuff that we got to go over yesterday at practice, and I was very pleased to see that,” Hardy said.
Regarding Jamerson’s outstanding play, Hardy said, “DJ (Jamerson) really got it going today in that first half and the boys kept giving it to him and he kept knocking them down. We needed him to score the basketball and will need him to continue scoring for us this year. When he establishes himself as a presence on the floor, that will help free everyone else up and he’s a good enough player to find the open man.”
The Mustang’s second game of the tournament was against the Loachapoka Indians. The Class 1A Indians defeated the host Montgomery Academy Eagles in the opening round of the tournament. The Indians managed a layup just before time expired to move ahead 9-7 at the end of the 1st quarter. Early in the 2nd quarter, the Mustangs went on a 9-0 run to take an 18-12 lead. The Mustangs would never relinquish the lead.
The Mustangs were only up by four points at the half, but Dylon Williams hit two three pointers early in the 3rd quarter to extend the lead to double digits, which is where it remained for the rest of the game, with Stanhope Elmore winning 57-39. Team scoring was much more balanced in the second game. Williams was the only Mustang’s player in double digits, scoring 12 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. Jamerson had 8 points and 8 rebounds. David Ragland had 9 points and Hall had 8 points.
In the Championship round, Stanhope Elmore faced Loveless Academy Magnet School (LAMP) from Montgomery, Alabama. The Golden Tigers defeated the Mustangs by 14 points the week before, but the rematch was a different story. Stanhope Elmore led almost the entire game, finishing with a 68-59 win and the tournament championship.
Jamerson started the game in dominant fashion, scoring the first six points, two of which came on a thunderous dunk to ignite the crowd. However, Jamerson picked up his second foul just three minutes into the game and was forced to go to the bench early to avoid getting his third foul. Early in the 2nd quarter, LAMP went on a 10-1 run and Mustang’s Coach Terry Hardy made the decision to put Jamerson back on the floor. The decision paid off, as Jamerson not only avoided picking up another foul, but also continued scoring the ball for the Mustangs.
Stanhope Elmore led by nine at the half, but LAMP was able to cut it to three points mid-way through the 3rd quarter. At that time, senior Mustangs’ guard Jamal Ball nailed a huge three pointer to stop LAMP’s momentum. Ball finished with four three pointers, all in the second half. On the final score of the night, Jamerson managed to get behind the LAMP defense and had a slam dunk just before time expired.
Jamerson had 27 points and 14 rebounds in the championship game. Ball had 12 points and Tillman had 11 points as Stanhope won their third game in three days, to improve their record to 3-2.
Stanhope Elmore will hit the road again on Monday to take on the Carver Wolverines in Montgomery. The Mustangs will then play the Tallassee Tigers on Tuesday, December 3, in their home opener for the 2019-2020 season.