Albany City Rocks took out Team NLP in the Elite Eight winning by one point and Team Florida beat Evansville by eight points in the Elite Eight. Now, in the final four Albany City Rocks meet Team Florida. Rocks had a size and strength advantage in their skilled big men and Florida simply put, could not keep up. Rocks controlled the game from the beginning and advanced to the AAU National Basketball championship game. Final score, 63 to 45.
Albany City Rocks grabbed the lead early in the first quarter with an “and 1” and never let it go. From the opening tip, to the last play Rocks seemed to work a high-low offense. They were excellent at getting the ball inside. When the defense collapsed in an attempt to stop the scoring in the paint, Rock’s guards were fully prepared to hit the open three. The quarter’s last points scored came from Rock’s Winston Morgan. He was fouled on a put back attempt with no time on the clock. He hit both free throws to increase the lead to 19 to 10.
Winston Morgan matched his offensive game with stifling defense. His defensive stops caused rebounding and turnover opportunities for Rocks, further increasing its lead. While Morgan was the force from outside the arch, Elisha Burns was the force in the paint. Burns had a powerful rebound and put back, which gave the Rocks their largest lead at 38 to 17. Team Florida went on a run in the third quarter led by Melvin Brooks and Brian Roe. Florida was able to shave seven points off the lead. Rocks called a timeout to put together a strategy to stop the run. At the end of the quarter, Team Florida hit a three and was down 37 to 50 going into the fourth. Roe lead Team Florida in scoring with 12 points.
The fourth quarter started slow. Winston Morgan converted on two consecutive threes pushing the lead to 58 to 39, matching the Rocks largest lead. Afterwards, the Rocks went on autopilot closing out the game up 63 to 45. Winston Morgan shot 6 of 7 from behind the arch and finished with 22 total points.
The Rocks head coach; Hamlet Tibbs was pleased with his team’s effort. “We got to a quick start everyone was moving the ball, everyone sharing it. We were able to get shots in rhythm and we hit our shots early.” On playing the local favorite in the championship, “They are a great team, it’s going to be a tough matchup and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
Team Florida’s head coach Andre Torres thought his team played well, but ran into a good team that shot a great percentage. He now was concentrated on the third place game, “they’ll bounce back, they’re young.”