Atlanta, GA: Day 2 of the GUAA Finals was fantastic. Food vendors had great food, and the basketball was as advertised as the stars shined and the up and comers seized an opportunity to take the next step. Baselines were full with coaches for the top games as players like FBCs Treasure Hunt and Kamilla Cordosa, and Example Sports Grace Hall and others took center stage. Here are a few players LBI wanted to highlight as well as a final four recap.
GUAA Finals Top Performers Day 2
2021 Jasmyne Roberts 5’9” SF FGB Team Delicia Washington 16U
Kids who can legitimately be effective in creating their own shot are a commodity. Jasmyne Roberts is a commodity, and she was in a serious groove on Wednesday morning. Roberts can go around you with euros and spin moves. She can avoid you with side steps and step backs, or she can go right thru you for the and one. Whatever you need, she’s got it, and her full arsenal of scoring weapons was on display vs. FBC United Youngunz.
2021 Jersey Wolfenbarger 6’2” CG Arkansas Banshees 17U GUAA
It only took two early triples for Jersey Wolfenbarger on her first two three-point shot attempts of the game to get the sense that I was watching a special player. This Elite 8 game between 17U teams, Banshees and GTS Fusion, was a competitive one, but Wolfenbarger was the difference as she was incredibly efficient from the field. Also, she created a half dozen opportunities for her teammates in transition as well. Seeing that kind of skill, height, and length at the PG spot was something to behold. Wolfenbarger finished with a game-high 16 points.
2020 Sasha Goforth 6’1” SG Arkansas Banshees 17U GUAA
Skill and length are a deadly combination. Sasha Goforth has both! When it was time for the Banshees to kick it into another gear, Goforth answered the call. During the run that broke open the game early in the 3rd quarter, Goforth nailed back to back triples and corralled a few offensive rebounds to get her team extra possessions. She was a matchup nightmare for GTS Fusion as she finished the game with 13 points.
2022 Karley Johnson 5’9” PG Arkansas Banshees 17U GUAA
The Arkansas Banshees 17U team is full of stars, but I believe PG Karley Johnson is the plug. She plays off of everyone else so well, picking and choosing her spots to contribute. She guarded every perimeter position in the Banshees win over GTS Fusion as well as managing to make an impact on the offensive end as well. She was hard to find. She put back offensive rebounds, scored in transition, and scored out of half-court sets. I overheard a coach comment to another, “she’s everywhere.”
2024 Allie Ziebell 5’10” CG WI Flight Elite NXT 15U GUAA
Sometimes you just gotta sit down and watch a whole game and watch kids pull back the layers to their game. 2024 Allie Ziebell has a lot of layers to her game, and she let those who were watching get a glimpse. She’s extraordinarily long and has a good handle. She kept the defense on their hills as she was able to attack off of a sneaky explosive first step. Ziebell’s skill set is mature beyond her years, and she is poised to breakout as we begin to look forward to next summer.
2024 Jaloni Cambridge 5’5” PG FBC United The Family 15U GUAA
If speed kills in the game of basketball, then Jaloni Cambridge is a killer. She might be the fastest guard with the ball in her hand on the planet...ok well definitely at the GUAA Finals event. She has an unbelievable motor she used to keep continual pressure on her opponents. She smothers the other teams PG with other worldly agility and athleticism. Cambridge is uber-competitive and has an in your face style of play that is downright intimidating. She displayed all the tools a PG needs on the offensive end as well. It’s scary that she’s only a 2024 and I could argue she’s easily a top 10 player in her class.
2020 Gabby Elliot 5’11” SF and 2022 Mya Pettichord 5’8” PG Michigan Storm Elite GUAA 17U
It has been well chronicles that Gabby Elliot has had a phenomenal spring and summer. She has continued her stellar play here at the GUAA Finals including a 17 point performance that included a 1st quarter bomb from beyond the arc, and seven big 4th quarter points to help MSE hang on to win by three over Golden City. But as I watched the game, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was some semblance of a passing of the torch to 2022 Mya Pettichord who scored 17 points and was difficult to contain. Pettichord was also 7-8 from the free-throw line and proved that she belonged in the top division.
GUAA Finals 17U Final 4 Recap
Game 1 - Arkansas Banshees vs. Example Sports
I believe the consensus would be that the Arkansas Banshees were the favorites to get to the GUAA finals, but this is a competition, and The Wolfpack came to compete. Example Sports played good old fashioned man to man defense. The consistent pressure and quick rotations bothered the Banshees in the 1st quarter. While the Banshees were trying to find their rhythm, Grace Hall was elevating and making a contested turn around jump shots on the low block and long 3s from beyond the arc. Sasha Goforth would answer with early baskets attacking the paint, and Jersey Wolfenbarger made a deep 3 to help close the gap. Halftime saw Example Sports up 4, 27-23 after Hall banked in a triple from the top of the key with 1 second left on the shot clock. The 3rd quarter saw a lull in the action early as teams struggle to score as both teams played staunch defense. 2020 PG Trinity Duckworth did manage to get loose for a deep three after a Grace Hall screen sent a defender spiraling to the ground. Duckworth followed that 3 with a hard drive and left hand finish putting the Wolfpack up 4. But Sasha Goforth kept her motor going as she was able to make a layup, a triple, and take a charge that wiped away a basket in the final minute of the 3rd quarter that ended with The Wolfpack up 1, 35-34. Grace Hall ended a 90-second scoring drought to start the 4th quarter with an on-ball deflection that led to her assisted layup with 6:26 left in the clock. After a timeout taken by the Wolfpack, the Banshees scored on a steal by Kelbie Washington on an inbounds pass and a three by Jersey Wolfenbarger to go up 2, 39-37. Play would get more physical, players a little tighter, and coaches a little more animated as both teams traded jabs until The Wolfpack’s Capria Brown made a whirling layup in the paint to put her team up 1 with a few seconds left on the clock. The Banshees would go on to have two separate chances on one and ones to tie the game from the free-throw line, but both opportunities were squandered as Example Sports beat the Banshees by 1. Example Sports PF Grace Hall led all scorers with 17 points.
Game 2 - FBC United vs. Wisconsin Flight
Let's just say Alexis Donarski was ready to seize the day from the opening tip. She opened up her 12 points 1st quarter scoring binge with a triple. Then a few seconds later with a jump stop in the lane and finish on a push shot. A few plays later, she stroked another triple in transition. The kind of start you need when facing FBC United who had been steamrolling their competition up until this point at the GUAA Finals. By the 2nd quarter, FBC settled in and began to score in transition. PG Raven Johnson was disruptive at the top of the FBC zone and was able to find PF Olivia Cochran and C Kamilla Cardosa for easy baskets in transition. Johnson also made a triple for good measure as FBC would take a daunting 10 point lead by halftime. Alexis Donarski opened up the 3rd quarter with a make from beyond the arc, but highly touted SG Treasure Hunt answered quickly with a deep triple of her own on the very next possession. But as the 3rd quarter waned on, it was evident that Raven Johnson’s ability to dictate tempo, FBCs size and ability to control the boards and SG Madison Hayes torrid shooting from long range was too much for the Wisconsin Flight. This quarter would see the FBC lead balloon to 28 as all six players that touched the floor for FBC scored at least one field goal. The rest, as they say, is history as FBC thumped WI Flight Elite by the score of 74-40. Alexis Donarski finished her stellar performance with 23 points, and FBC showed off their depth as all eight players scored.
The Championship game will begin at 2:30 pm est as the Example Sports Wolfpack look to knock off favorite FBC United to win the first-ever GUAA Finals.