The Fusion, made up of local high school players, played a strong first half but failed to match the energy level of the Oklahoma Stars down the stretch. The Stars pulled away for a 54-46 win.
The Fusion led by as much as six in the first half and held a two-point advantage at halftime. But the Stars answered with more intensity in the second half, fighting for more loose balls and rebounds. They led by as much as 10 with 2 minutes left and held the lead.
“We lost a tough one,” Fusion coach Perry Ferguson said. “We came out ready to play pretty pumped, and in the second half we ran out of gas. They wanted it more than we did in the second half.”
The local Georgia team was led by Hephzibah junior point guard Shana Miller, who totaled 16 points. Miller, who played all 30 minutes in the game, sunk two deep baskets on consecutive possessions before halftime to propel the Fusion to a first-half lead.
“It was about momentum, who wanted it more,” Miller said. “I think we had it in the first half, and we started with it in the second half, but we gave it to them and they took it.”
Cross Creek’s Kaela Patrick and Hephzibah’s Daeundra Jordan each had eight points for the Fusion, which joined four other Georgia-based AAU programs in the tournament. It finishes today at Patriots Park with the Fusion playing at 9:40 a.m., and the final game starting at 9:20 p.m.
Christenberry Fieldhouse housed games throughout Friday to start the tournament. College coaches around the country lined the courts to watch each game.
“It’s exposure basketball, scouts on both sides of the court,” Ferguson said. “You can’t ask for anything better.”
For Miller, the exposure gives her a chance to showcase her skills and work on her game.
“My handles are my strength as a player, but I’m trying to get my shot,” she said. “I’m working on my shot, trying to get it better. I don’t want to be known as a point guard that can’t shoot. I’m trying to create everything with my game.”