Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tip Off Classic - ASU Alumni vs "Eagles and Friends"

View Highlights from the Tip Off Classic

ASU Alumni and Eagles and Friends
The Augusta State University Alumni basketball team defeated the "Eagles and Friends," 91-89, in the inaugural Tip Off Classic at Aquinas High School.  The game featured former ASU Jaguars from the past four decades, members of the Augusta Eagles high school basketball team, and Eagles' volunteer coaches and friends.  The Tip Off Classic, played Saturday, October 22nd, was the final event of a weekend that included various activities for former ASU basketball players, Eagles players of all ages, and area high school basketball coaches.

The idea for the event was first conceived six weeks ago when Eagles coach Chad Cook asked ASU coach Dip Metress if he would coach a men's team consisting of Eagles volunteers and a few former Jaguars like Keenan Mann, Buck Harris, and Cook in a preseason fund raising game versus the Eagles.

ASU Alumni Team
Coach Cook said, "I called Coach Metress and he said that he thought he and assistant coach Jamie Quarles could round up a full team of former ASU guys who live in the area.  So Jamie contacted the players who have recently played for the program, and I contacted the guys from the older teams.  We originally thought we should keep the roster to 10-12 players so everyone could play significant minutes."  But Quarles and Cook quickly secured commitments from many more players, and the "alumni game" turned into an "alumni weekend."

Sixteen of the ASU players met for dinner at T-Bonz Friday night, and several played golf Saturday morning at Forest Hills Golf Course.  Other former Jaguars who currently coach high school basketball teams (and current Eagles coaches) spent Saturday afternoon attending Augusta State Men's Basketball Coach's Clinic, an open practice hosted by Metress and Quarles.

The basketball activities began at 6 PM Friday with an intrasquad scrimmage between the Augusta Eagles Middle School girls blue and white teams.  The Blue team won 10-8 in a ten minute, running clock game.

Former Jags: Buck Harris, Keenan Mann, Hal Dollander,
Kevin Rish, Derek Stewart, Adam Miller, Chad Cook, Chad
This scrimmage was followed by the Tip Off Classic Three Point Competition.  The contest featured some of the best shooters to play in the Augusta area over the past few decades.  Keenan Mann, Keith Harrison, and Adam Miller, who all hold places near the top of the all time 3 point field goal list at Augusta State, represented the Jags.  Former Westside Patriot, Duke Blue Devil, and NBA lottery pick, Will Avery, who may be the best shooter in this area's history, was a formidable contestant.  Along with Avery, former USC Aiken standout and long time professional, Mike Freeman, and Glenn Miller, who as a member of the Evans Knights won the Augusta area's other notable three point competition, represented the "friends" of the Eagles.  The other two contestants were Eagles guards Matt Miller and Austin Crown, two of the best shooters (and players) playing high school basketball in Augusta.

After Mann, Avery, Harrison, Matt Miller, and Glenn Miller advanced to the semifinals, Glenn Miller drilled 13 of 15 shots to secure a place in the finals.  Matt Miller knocked out Harrison to earn the chance to compete against his brother in the finals.  The younger Miller (Matt) then edged his sibling out in the finals to win the Tip Off Classic Three Point Competition.

The evening's main event featured a barrage of 3 pointers and scoring from both teams, mixed with some thunderous dunks by Augusta State's Garret Siler, who plays Center for the NBA's Phoenix Suns, and AJ Bowman, the former two time Peach Belt Athletic Conference Player of the Year and NCAA Division II All American.

The two teams battled to an early 20-20 tie as Matt Miller scored 13 of the first 20 Eagles and Friends points, and six different Jaguars made 3 pointers.

Garret Siler Finishes at the Rim
Next, Siler and Bowman entered the game.  Each made his presence known, combining for 12 points, including crowd pleasing dunks and deep jump shots (Bowman) in only six minutes of play.  But Will Avery responded to the challenge with three 3 pointers during the same stretch, keeping the Eagles and Friends within striking distance at halftime, down 48-37.

Will Avery answers Siler, Bowman
The Eagles and Friends, led by 24 combined points by guards Austin Crown and Matt Miller, started the second half with a 28-16 scoring run and took a 65-64 lead.  But after Adam Miller, Jason Mills, and Luke Tambon made jump shots to give the Jaguars a 71-68 lead, Bowman and Siler reentered the game. The two recent ASU standouts excited the crowd, converting multiple lob passes from former point guard and current assistant coach, Jamie Quarles, into crashing dunks.

Down 86-71 late in the fourth quarter, Mike Freeman, Avery, and Jordan Pye combined for 12 late points to make it a one possession game.  The Eagles failed to close out the comeback and Quarles, Oliver Ottley, and Darrick Brodie converted free throws late to ensure the Jaguars victory.

The Jaguars' scoring leaders were Bowman (14), Jason Mills (13), and Siler (10).  The alumni team converted 15 three pointers (Oliver Ottley 3, Adam Miller 2, Keith Harrison (2), Arthur Thomas (2), Mills (2), and Bowman (2).  Eagles guards Matt Miller and Austin Crown led the Eagles and Friends in scoring with 31 points each.  Will Avery contributed countless assists to go along with his 13 point, 40 minute night.  The Eagles made 14 three pointers in the game.

During halftime of the game, the Augusta Eagles boys middle school white team defeated the blue team 10-8 in a 10 minute intra squad scrimmage.

All Eagles contributed to the successful evening.
The event raised funds for the Augusta Eagles and Augusta State basketball programs.  Eagles coach and former ASU Jaguar, Chad Cook, was thrilled with the experience.  "All weekend long, it felt like people were genuinely happy being together.  I think there is a desire among the Jaguars to do things like this more often and generally stay in touch.  And as always, our Eagles parent group did a wonderful job of running a classy operation.  The ASU people and the Eagles group got to know each other.  So in addition to old friends being reunited, some new friends were made as well," said Cook.

"As an assistant or as a head coach, I have coached all but 2 of the 22 guys at this game," said Augusta State head coach Dip Metress after the game.

The Augusta Eagles first contest of the 2011-2012 regular season is in the Greensboro Homeschool Preseason Tournament, November 4.  Augusta States opens versus Paine College on November 16 at Christenberry Field House.