1st Annual Craig Sager Memorial Tournament delivers non-stop hoops action

Photo by Shane Tuscherer

The first-annual Craig Sager Memorial Basketball Tournament, held at Dacula High School in honor of the late broadcaster, was a smashing success. The nation’s largest sanctioned high school basketball tournament featured 32 teams and top talent from around the state, with one team each from Alabama and New York, and the four brackets—Chevron, Paisley, Plaid and Floral—that recognized Sager’s unique sense of style. Organized by his children Craig Sager II and Kacy Sager with Dacula head boys coach Dr. Russ Triaga, the tournament sought to capture the passion for sports and life that Sager exuded throughout his long broadcasting career before his passing last December at 65 from acute myeloid leukemia.

It was an incredible three-day run at Dacula for this brand new tournament and brand new Thanksgiving week tradition. This year’s event may be over on the court, but you can still donate at the tournament’s GoFundMe page.

The tournament got going on Saturday with a full day of action in two gyms at Dacula. There were overtime battles between the likes of the Morgan County and Therrell boys, as Alec Woodard’s 31 points and Tyrin Lawrence’s 25 led Morgan’s way to an 84-78 victory, foreshadowing things to come. Both the Buford boys and girls coasted to wins on Saturday, which would eventually help catapult both of those teams into the finals of their respective brackets. The Buford boys defeated Discovery and the girls defeated Grayson, two Gwinnett County rivals, on Monday to reach the first-place games.

In other Monday action, the North Gwinnett girls defeated Lakeside-DeKalb 54-32 and Shiloh beat Walnut Grove 80-34 to set up the Floral bracket championship game. The Paisley boys bracket saw South Gwinnett defeat Owego Free Academy (N.Y.) 60-53 and Harrison take down Walnut Grove 55-51 in overtime to vault the Comets and Hoyas into the championship game. Holy Innocents’ outlasted Valdosta 58-55 in the girls Chevron bracket, and Morgan County knocked off host Dacula in the wildest game of the tournament on Monday night to reach the championship in the boys Plaid bracket, with both winners facing off against Buford.

In Monday’s epic overtime game between Morgan County and Dacula, Morgan County held a 14-point halftime lead, 36-33, but Dacula went on a run to open the third quarter and trailed just 47-45 heading into the fourth. The score was deadlocked at 59-59 after regulation, forcing Morgan County’s second overtime game of the tournament. Woodard had 31 points once again, including Morgan County’s game-tying three-pointer with 11 seconds left in overtime and the game-winning put-back at the buzzer to give the Bulldogs a dramatic 67-65 win and the title-game berth.

Tuesday’s action wrapped up the tournament and crowned the four bracket winners as well as places one through eight for each group. The Walnut Grove boys snagged a third-place finish Paisley bracket finish with a 61-46 win over Owego, as did the Lakeside girls in the Floral bracket with a 46-40 win over Walnut Grove. Grayson outlasted Valdosta 65-58 to take third in the girls Chevron.

Dacula looked to rebound from its heartbreaking loss with the consolation game against Discovery, and the teams were knotted up at halftime 31-31. The game once again went down to the wire as Discovery’s Jaylen Bussey hit a buzzer-beating three that bounced high on the rim several times before falling through to tie it at 70-70. Another tough loss was in the cards for host Dacula, though, as London Riley hit another buzzer-beating three for Discovery, this time to win the game 78-75 in OT.

To kick off the championship games, North Gwinnett handled Shiloh 60-34 to take the Floral bracket championship. The Lady Bulldogs led 27-13 at halftime and expanded the lead from there. The Paisley championship was another nail-biter as South Gwinnett and Harrison found themselves tied at 63-63 in the waning seconds, but South Gwinnett’s Zawdie Jackson Jr. hit a nice reverse layup with 12.9 remaining that proved to be the game-winner, giving the Comets the 65-63 win.

Buford’s girls won the Wolves first of two title games on the day, defeating Holy Innocents’ 57-45 to take the Chevron crown, and the Buford boys held a 28-26 halftime lead over Morgan County (pictured) in the tournament’s final game for the Plaid title. Morgan County prevented Buford from getting the sweep, however, riding Lawrence’s 16 points and 11 rebounds to the 57-54 win and despite 23 points and eight rebounds from Buford’s Marcus Watson.

Tags: , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply