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Detroit's Phillips named tournament's Most Valuable Player
Diminuitive Duo Captures PIT Championship
By Chris Ekstrand
PORTSMOUTH, Va., April 7 -- Rashad Phillips of Detroit and Donald Hand of Virginia were two of the smallest players on the court in the championship game of the 49th annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. Despite their modest stature, the diminutive duo played like giants in the second half Saturday night to lift Beach Barton Ford to a come-from-behind 85-82 victory over K-Plus Services at Churchland High School.

Hand
Former Virginia star Donald Hand came up big in the PIT championship game.
AP Photo


The 5-10 Phillips, who led all scorers with 23 points, was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. He averaged 21.3 points and 5.3 assists for three games.

Phillips and the 6-foot Hand (16 points) combined to score 27 of their 39 points in the second half to help erase a 45-31 halftime deficit and capture the win. Each player picked a momentum-swinging juncture in the game to nail a critical three-point shot.

A three-pointer by Phillips with 12:25 remaining boosted Beach Barton Ford to its first lead since the opening moments at 55-52, completing a 24-7 run to open the second half. It was a lead they would never relinquish. When K-Plus Services closed to within 72-71 with 5:19 remaining, Hand kept Beach Barton ahead with a three-pointer from the top of the key. Phillips made all three of his three-point attempts in the second half, while Hand had two old-fashioned three-point plays and nailed all six of his free throw attempts after halftime.

With all the heroics of the tiny Beach Barton teammates, K-Plus Services still had a golden opportunity to tie the game in the final seconds. Anthony Evans of Georgia (11 points, 10 rebounds) went to the foul line with nine seconds remaining and his Beach Barton team ahead 84-82. Evans made the first free throw but missed the second. William Paterson University's Horace Jenkins of K-Plus, who tallied 14 points and six assists, used his dynamic speed to push the ball up the floor to put K-Plus in position for a game-tying attempt. Jenkins drew lots of defensive attention in the lane and created an open three-point shot for Duke's Nate James in the left corner. James' three-point try circled the rim and spun out as the buzzer sounded.

30-year-old George Evans of George Mason, the Army veteran and three-time Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year, led K-Plus with 22 points, while James added 13 points. Rahim Lockhart of Mississippi recorded 10 points and nine rebounds for K-Plus.

Phillips, who was mobbed by autograph-seeking fans after accepting the MVP trophy, said he proved his versatility to those who feel he is a shooting guard trapped in a 165-pound point guard's body.

"I'm a creator," Phillips said. "I'm a point guard, I showed I can pass the ball. I'm a two guard, also. It's really a good thing I can play both positions. I tried to show (the scouts) everything: dribbling, shooting, defense, playmaking, three-point shooting. Everything."

Phillips credited Hand specifically and all of his teammates for their hard work and dedication in winning the title.

"I have to honor my teammates," Phillips said. "They played so hard. It's one of the best groups of teammates I ever played with in the short amount of time we had. My thanks for the MVP have to go to my teammates, especially Donald Hand, who helped me play in the backcourt."

The highly anticipated head-to-head matchup of Phillips vs. Jenkins lived up to expectations. Jenkins, who struggled with his three-point shot in the game (1-for-6), showed more point guard skills than in his two previous games. Several times he used his explosive first step to go by Phillips and then pass to a teammate for an easy shot.

"The first night, I showed them (NBA scouts) I could score (with 23 points), the second night I showed them defensive intensity on both sides of the ball, and tonight I showed them I could be more of a pure point guard if asked to do that duty," Jenkins summarized.

Both players are hoping their strong performances in the PIT will earn them another opportunity to showcase their talents at the Nike Desert Classic, slated for Tempe, Arizona, May 1-5. The Classic also showcases top college seniors, with approximately 40 players invited to perform.

Third Place: Norfolk Sports Club 93, Freedom Chevrolet 89: Sergio McClain of Illinois, better known as a punishing defender for the Illini, scored six of his 16 points in a key 8-2 run late in the second half that preserved the victory for Norfolk Sports Club.

After a driving shot by Freedom Chevrolet's Shernard Long of Georgia State (13 points) tied the game at 76 with 5:05 remaining, Joe Linderman of Drexel (12 points, nine rebounds) hit two free throws to put Norfolk back in the lead by two points. McClain then went to work, hitting a free throw, an impressive spinning reverse and a three-point play that gave Norfolk some breathing space at 84-78. Freedom got the lead down to two points on two occasions in the last two minutes, but never had the ball with a chance to tie the game after McClain's spurt.

Norfolk had taken a 46-40 halftime lead behind the hot shooting of Eastern Illinois' Kyle Hill, who led his team with 19 points. But Ricardo Greer of Pittsburgh, in his best showing at the PIT, helped Freedom Chevrolet come back in the second half by scoring 11 of his team-high 19 points and grabbing seven of his team-best 12 rebounds after intermission.

Ronnie McCollum of Centenary, the nation's leading scorer this season, and Souleymane Wane of Connecticut each contributed 15 points for Norfolk, with Wane adding a team-high 11 rebounds. Isiah Victor of Tennessee and Mekeli Wesley of Brigham Young each recorded 14 points for Freedom Chevrolet, which also got 11 rebounds from North Carolina State's Damon Thornton.

Consolation Championship: MD Designs 108, Portsmouth Sports Club 88: Darren Kelly of Texas continued his blistering shooting Saturday afternoon, scoring 19 points in 25 minutes to help MD Designs to the consolation title. Kelly made seven of 11 field goal attempts, making him an inconceivable 24 of 34 (71%) from the field for the tournament.

Although MD Designs pulled away in the last few minutes, the game was tied at 77 with only seven minutes remaining. Marcus Griffin (game-high 22 points) of Illinois, who had scored only eight total points in his first two PIT games, fashioned the tie for Portsmouth Sports Club with six straight points on postups on the block. But Griffin's barrage was answered by a 15-2 MD Designs run over the next three minutes, leaving Kelly and his mates firmly in control at 92-79 with 4:41 left. Kelly scored five of those 15 points, including the tiebreaking jump shot and a dynamic, flying three-point play on a burst to the basket.

Several players delivered outstanding shooting performances in a game that featured two potent offenses. All eight players in uniform for MD Designs scored at least eight points. Jamahl Mosley of Colorado (17 points, 11 rebounds), Greg Stevenson of Richmond (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Dean Oliver of Iowa (15 points, seven assists) were the leaders for MD Designs.

Quincy Wadley of Temple closed his productive tournament with 19 points for Portsmouth Sports Club, while Paul Shirley of Iowa State contributed 16 points and six rebounds.

NOTES: Iowa coach Steve Alford was on hand to support Hawkeyes' point guard Dean Oliver, adding to the large continent of college coaches who visited the PIT this week.

2001 PIT ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM

Rashad Phillips Detroit Beach Barton Ford
Anthony EvansGeorgia Beach Barton Ford
Horace JenkinsWilliam PatersonK-Plus Services
George EvansGeorge MasonK-Plus Services
Mike MardesichMarylandK-Plus Services
Nate JamesDuke K-Plus Services
Kyle HillEastern IllinoisNorfolk Sports Club
Sergio McClainIllinois Norfolk Sports Club
Damon ThorntonN.C. StateFreedom Chevrolet
Isiah VictorTennesseeFreedom Chevrolet


ALL-CONSOLATION BRACKET TEAM

Darren Kelly Texas MD Designs
Brian WardleMarquetteMD Designs
Marcus GriffinIllinois Portsmouth Sports Club
Paul ShirleyIowa StatePortsmouth Sports Club
Martin RancikIowa StateSales Systems


Chris Ekstrand is a member of the NBA Editorial staff.
 
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