Ames, IA: The 2019 Battle of the Best came to a close on Thursday, which also concluded the 2019 travel ball season. Championships were handed out in the 15, 16, and 17U divisions on day three. Taking the 15U crown, the DTA Academy 2022 Blue capped off a dominant weekend. In 16U, the Michigan Crossover EYBL won yet another championship as their top-notch backcourt pushed them through & Tree Hope EYBL capped off their summer taking home the 17U crown.
Battle of the Best Day 3 Top Performers
2023 Jariah Harris 5’9” SG Iowa Prep 15U Red
You could see right away Harris wanted to make her mark on the game early, she started with two triples, a trip to the free-throw line and a hard drive for another two. Jariah kept her foot on the gas with two more threes and an assist to a shooter in the corner soon after. After a quick breather, Harris picked up where she left off, scoring the ball, this time off a beautiful drive from the corner. She never forced anything; all her shots came in rhythm and within the flow of the game. She moved without the ball, and it found her, she crashed the boards for easy put backs and ran the floor on the break for even more points. Her opponents tried their best to change things up a bit on defense, but Harris managed to find gaps and weaknesses in whatever defense was in front of her. By my count, Harris ended the game against Lady Gymrats 14u platinum with a whopping 25 points.
2021 Andrea Daley 5’11” SF Miami Suns 16U EYBL
Andrea Daley electrified the paint this morning, here in the final day of action at The Battle of the Best competition. Her athleticism at times soared above the rest. From the opening tip to the last sound of the buzzer, Daley exploited defenders with elite foot speed, quickness, and vertical leaping ability. When Daley was allowed to gain some space in the half-court, she shot out of her spot like a bullet; her first step was uncatchable. Her mobility in and around the paint area made her a nightmare to keep off the offensive boards at times, which also landed her at the free-throw line numerous times throughout the game. Daley operated nicely from the high post area, knowing when to flash or even sneak behind the defenders who lost her in the chaos.
2021 Alison Vantimmeren 6’2” PF Michigan Crossover 17U EYBL
Ali is the type of player that can quietly make major impacts in a game. She knows her job and responsibilities and sticks to them. You can usually find Vantimmeren primarily operating from the block area, posting and sealing like crazy. She had a tall order on her hands facing two formidable foes looming in the paint from Tree of Hope 17u EYBL squad. Ali all but held her own down there, snatching big rebounds in traffic, finishing through outstretched hands and contesting everything in her area. Vantimmeren, however, periodically stepped out behind the arc and knocked some threes down when the defense lost track of her as well. Her lefty stroke is confident and smooth from deep.
Battle of the Best 16U & 17U Championship Games
Battle of the Best 16U Championship Game
Michigan Crossover 16U vs. North Tartan 10th EYBL
Michigan Crossover 16u EYBL got out early in transition to grab a quick lead over the North Tartan 10th EYBL team. 2022 Brooke Daniels pushed the ball nicely to find 2022 Ruby Whitehorn streaking for some natural looks at the rim. North Tartan countered back with shoving the ball inside to 2021 6’2” Jenna Johnson for some much-needed offense, rallying was to take the lead after being down almost double digits. Big-time plays from 2021 Adalia McKenzie from North Tartan gave her squad a considerable boost of energy that trickled down throughout her team. After another transition bucket and finish at the rim from Whitehorn along with a deep triple from 2021 Logan Lewis, Michigan Crossover once again regained the lead going into the second half. North Tartan’s Adalia McKenzie wasted no time in attacking the defense to try and pull her team closer. However, Michigan Crossover’s Whitehorn was frankly too hot to handle; she made big play after big play. Crossover’s lead swelled to 18 with just under 7 minutes to go in the 16u championship game. Combo guard McKenzie from North Tartan was not going to just lay down without a fight. However, she battled with significant intensity. Crossover’s Ruby Whitehorn was, in the end, unstoppable and unguardable. Michigan Crossover’s talented young squad stood atop the rest on the 16u division at The Battle of the Best in Ames, Iowa today.
Battle of the Best 17U Championship Game
Tree of Hope 17U EYBL vs. All Iowa Attack 17U EYBL
It was a close back forth game early between these two powerhouse programs. Tree of Hope 6’2” Jordyn Jenkins flexed her muscles early, while elite guard play of 2021 Grace Larkins from All Iowa Attack was good early offense for them. Also, 2022 Hannah Stuelke shooting guard for All Iowa Attack hits nothing butter bottom of the net to pull her squad within 3 with 5 minutes to go in the first half. Steady play of 2020 Jenkins from Tree of Hope kept the offense rolling when shots just wouldn’t fall for her guards. With an unbelievably cold-shooting first half for the usual red hot three-point sharpshooters from All Iowa Attack, 2020 Aubrey Joens finally stops the drought and hits a long bomb. Whether it was fatigue setting in from a grueling travel ball season or just phenomenal defense, both teams scored just under 20 points after the first half. 2020 Meghan Fiso from the Tree of Hope squad starts the second half out with a bang, drilling a three smack dab in a defenders face. 2020 Maya Gyamfi of All Iowa Attack drops back to back threes to stay within striking distance. Tree of Hope used some stifling defense on All Iowa, where they struggled to even get shots off at times.
On the other hand, the Tree of Hope players was firing on all cylinders, hitting outside shots and working their inside presence with 6’4” Dalayah Daniels and 6’2” Jordyn Jenkins getting a 15 point lead with 7 minutes to go. Ironically, it was the big time energy Iowa gave on the defensive end that helped inch them closer, but back to back threes and a steal for a break away layup from 2020 Maya McDermott is what pulled them within 2 with just 2:30 to go. With momentum shifting towards hometown Iowa, Jenkins draws a big foul to split free throws, taking the lead back to 3 for Tree of Hope with just 1:33 left in the ball game. With only :03 left on the clock, All Iowa, down by 3, has the ball out of bounds under the rim....but Dalayah Daniels from Tree of Hope gets a huge steal to get the win in the Championship game of The Battle of the Best.