BY CHAD DARE
For the first time in Dustbowl history, the
Champaign Heat are the champions of the middle-school division.
The Heat, behind the MVP performance of Clavin Davis,
defeated Bud’s Bar-B-Que/Team Manimal, 42-26 in the title game.
“Winning the title makes you feel like a champion,’’ said
Davis, who scored a game-high 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
Davis, a 6-foot freshman-to-be from Champaign, scored the
final six points of the first half for his team as the Heat took a 23-13
advantage into the break.
“We were really aggressive on defense and we knew how to
run the press,’’ he said. “It was the most important part of our game and it
Bud’s Bar-B-Que/Team Manimal struggled with the defensive
intensity from the Champaign Heat.
Bud’s wound up committing 25 turnovers in the contest,
leading directly to 16 points for the Heat.
“We were short a couple of players,’’ said David Gouard,
the coach for Bud’s Bar-B-Que. “We missed some layups and had too many
turnovers. That run they had right before halftime hurt.
“We’re mostly seventh-graders and those guys were mostly
eighth-graders we were playing.’’
Josh Thompson, who was the leading scorer for Bud’s with
10 points — seven in the second half — knew almost every player on the Champaign
“I have played with about five of them in school,’’ he
said. “It was fun to play against them, but it was also kind of hard, because
they knew what I liked to do.’’
Davis, who is one of Thompson’s teammates, admitted it was
fun playing against someone you know.
“When we get back to Champaign, we can talk about it,’’
said Davis, while holding his MVP trophy.
Thompson said the biggest problem for Bud’s against the
press was passing the ball too much.
“We didn’t take the ball to the basket against their big
men,’’ he said. “And when we did, we didn’t make our layups and we really
didn’t play very good defense.’’
According to Champaign Heat coach Jamil Henderson, defense
is the key to his team’s success.
“Defense wins championships,’’ he said. “We want to play
with pressure and intensity.’’
While winning the first-ever middle-school division title
was important, Davis said there was an added benefit for the Champaign Heat.
“This was real big for us, because we had a large group of
fans following us,’’ he said, noting that the Champaign Heat plays the majority
of its summer games away from the area. “Our family and friends were able to
come over here and watch us play. We had a lot of support on our side.’’
Henderson said it was good for the kids to be able to make
a name in the Dustbowl.
Gouard, whose has been a part of the Dustbowl for years,
pointed out this new division is good for the growth of the tournament.
“It’s something for kids to do,’’ he said. “The younger
kids don’t get to play too much around here. This will let them get some
experience in front of the crowd.’’
Davis was the only player from the Champaign Heat in
double figures. Next in scoring was Mystical Suggs with eight points, followed
by Kris Dixon and Deontae Young with six each.
After Thompson’s 10 points for Bud’s Bar-B-Que came Torius
Terrance with seven.