On the final day of the 12th annual Thanksgiving Basketball Classic presented by 100 Black Men of Augusta, Inc., the players geared up for something a little more lighthearted.
And with a flair for the dramatic, Laney Wildcat Lavertus Hall gave Saturday's early-morning crowd at Richmond Academy something to remember him by.
The 6-foot-1 forward, undaunted by a seven-inch height disadvantage, defeated Butler forward Austin Steed in a championship tiebreaker to take the slam dunk title.
"Man, it was great. It was my first time ever in a dunk contest," Hall said. "We played Austin (Steed) and them before, and I tried to dunk on him, but he rejected it. So I think this was a little payback."
After Hall and Steed tied in the first round of the championship contest, Hall set up a ball rack and a trash can side-by-side, soaring over both of them and bringing the crowd to a roar.
The winning dunk was perfect, at least in the eyes of the judges, who awarded Hall 30 out of a possible 30 points. But his final dunk wasn't the only 30-point effort during the contest.
Jihad McCloud, a 5-11 guard from Glenn Hills, threw down a perfect dunk on the last dunk of the first round, moving on to a semifinal matchup with Hall.
The format saw Hall and McCloud competing for a chance to face off with Steed in the championship. And while McCloud came up big, his wasn't even the best dunk in the first round.
North Augusta's 6-4 guard Bryan Narcisse, sporting a 'B-Nice' headband, represented the Yellow Jackets with a throwback effort. Narcisse started at the opposite side of the gym, took off toward the basket, leapt from the free-throw line and threw down a dunk, giving the crowd their first highlight of the contest.
"It's always more fun when you have more people to go up against, instead of just the kids in the neighborhood on the 8-foot rim," Narcisse said.
- Saturday's events also included a 3-point contest, featuring six of the best shooters among the 10-team tournament field.
A late arrival from defending champion Glen Miller meant no warm-up, but the Evans guard put up an impressive 20-point performance. He could only muster a second-place finish, though, as North Augusta guard D'Juan Thurmond put up 24 points - including all three money balls to close each rack - to take the title.
"Shooting the money ball is like shooting a big-time shot at the end of the game. So I think about it like that," Thurmond said.
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