By Lauren Jones, DrewLeague.com
The turnout at the King Drew gym was remarkably similar to how it has been all summer long on any given Sunday afternoon – lines wrapped around the gym an hour prior to the game, the courtside seats filled with faithful fans and players eager to put another win under their belt – the only difference is that it was Monday evening. Arguably, only a Drew League game can fill a gym to capacity on a Monday.
This much anticipated semi-final playoff game turned into a heated battle between the young kids on the block, Hank’s A1 All Stars, versus the veteran Kings of LA led by Dorell Wright. Antonio “Swag Champ” Biglow, Corey Allen, Brandon Jennings, Jordan Sweeney and Darnell Martin took the court for Hank’s A1 All-Stars, renamed Houdini’s All Stars for this game. Delon Wright, Chris “Ghetto Bird” Young, Mike “Chopper City” Taylor, Dorell “King Tut” Wright and Amir Johnson formed the starting lineup for the Kings of LA.
The game was full of surprises starting with the debut of a new nickname by George, the official Announcer of the Drew. Dorell was crowned King Tut, a name that was heard all game long after he hit a three to start the game. He was not the only one feeling it early on. In fact, his younger brother, Delon Wright revealed what he has been working on all summer long. “I’ve been focusing on my all-around game now that I’m more confident in my scoring,” said Delon. The young point guard, headed to the University of Utah, scored eight early points all assisted by his big bro.
Early on, Kings of LA were playing to their advantages, size and experience with 6’9” Amir Johnson beating every opponent inside the paint. In spite of the edge Kings of LA had over Hank’s A1 All-Stars, Coach Cav’s roster of young and talented players was hungry proving that the advantage was slight and that the team would have no problem keeping up. The tandem of A1 guards, Biglow, Jennings and Allen, kept the All-Stars within arms distance of the Kings of LA. As the 1st quarter was winding down, Jennings was finally able to close the gap and tie the game up at 13 points apiece. From there it was point for point. A1 All-Stars’ Josh White came in with a put back layup to tie it up at 19 all to close the 1st quarter of play.
It took two back to back blocks, one for each team, for the crowd to come alive. First, A1 All-Stars’ Jamaal Barnes went up for a layup and Dorell came in and said, “get that weak….out of here.” With Barnes still on the ground trying to recover, his teammate Garrett Nevels got back on defense for another huge block. Nevels lived up to the hype of his rumored return. To start the second quarter his offensive impact forced Kings of LA to take a timeout. He ended with 25 points including a three he hit late in the 3rd quarter to give the A1 All-Stars their biggest lead of game with a 6-point advantage over the Kings of LA.
By the third quarter, emotions were at an all-time high with so much on the line. Jennings struggled on offense ending the game with just 8 points. His frustration shined through getting riled up after a questionable call by an official leading to a technical foul for unsportsmanlike conduct. Then Mike Taylor, who was enthusiastic all game long shouting utterances like, “Turn up, Turn up!” after making shots, got into a heated physical altercation with Jennings. It took some time to break up the exchange and allow the referees to confer before the game resumed. Taylor was charged with a technical and flagrant foul, and then ejected from the game.
Later in the same quarter, another altercation transpired after Dorell blocked a 3-point shot attempt by A1 All-Stars’ Jordan Sweeney. Down the stretch, Sweeney proved to be player of the game for the A1 All-Stars. He was 10/19 from the field earning 22 points and 13 rebounds. Despite his outstanding performance, Dorell closed the game drawing a foul with less than a minute to play and knocked down both free throws putting the Kings of LA up by two and adding to his 29 point game. The last shot was taken by Nevels for the win, but a misfire on the 3-pointer caused Kings of LA to emerge victorious and advance to the 2013 Drew League Championship.
Lauren Jones is entering her senior year at USC majoring in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Sports Media Studies. This is her second summer interning for the Drew League. Her career aspirations are to work as an esteemed sports journalist and eventually as a consultant for athletes in financial literacy, public relations and brand management. Her past experiences include interning for Yahoo! Sports, the Los Angeles Clippers, BET Network, EAG Sports Management, and Nike EYBL.