O’FALLON, Mo. • By the time the dust had settled on the first 100 seconds of the championship game of the 51st annual Fort Zumwalt North Tournament, the balance of play had clearly tipped in the favor of fourth-seeded Hazelwood East in the form of 10 straight points.
With the lead firmly in hand, East eased to the 55-45 win over Troy Buchanan. The win marked the second time this season East defeated Troy, having already done so at the Trojans’ home tournament.
“This feels pretty good, because it shows that all of the hard work paid off,” East junior guard and tournament MVP Jimmy Jones said. “The game plan was to come in here and show everybody that we were better than our record. We knew we were faster, and we worked on how to defend them all week, and it worked.”
It worked indeed.
A Brandon Brice backdoor layup and steal and layup, combined with a pair of Rashawn Chapman 3-pointers, had the Spartans up 10-0 and had Troy calling a timeout with 6:20 left in the first quarter.
“I really thought we came in ready to play,” Troy coach Ryan Meyers said. “I thought we lacked just a little bit of focus there early.”
Chapman said that he was happy to knock down some key shots to get the Spartans off on the right foot.
“We knew what we all had to do,” said Chapman, who was an all-tournament team selection. “We had to come out hard from the beginning. Those (threes) were good looks off good passes from my teammates. We did well, because we played as a team.”
By quarter’s end, East led 19-10, and the Spartans managed to ease the lead to 29-20 at halftime.
At its apex, the East lead was 15 points when Brandon Levy converted a backdoor layup on the opening possession of the fourth quarter after the Spartans held the 40-27 lead after the third quarter.
“We gave up some wide open 3s and a couple of back cuts,” said Meyers of the defensive difficulties Troy had Friday. “Our M.O. this year has been to be solid on the defensive end. We certainly weren’t anywhere close to that tonight.”
The game’s final minute was punctuated by a Levy dunk and subsequent technical foul for hanging on the rim and a five-point Trojans possession when Troy’s Ben Chaney hit the technical free throws and J.D. Powell drained a 3-pointer.
Chapman led all scorers with 19 points, while Brice and Levy added 10 points each for East (9-7).
Chapman said it was a no-brainer to see Jones selected as MVP.
“He’s our leader out there, and he gets us going,” Chapman said. “He did that for us all tournament, and he’s done it all season. We were the No. 4 seed in the tournament and nobody thought we could do this. It felt good to prove them wrong.”
Chaney led Troy (11-8) with 15 points, while Powell added 10.
In addition to Jones and Chapman, Francis Howell North’s Kyle Lemons, Troy’s Landon Mills and Chaney, Ritenour’s Chrishawn Torrey, Holt’s Tyler Shelton, Parkway North’s Aaron Hines, Fort Zumwalt North’s Zach and Chaz Glotta and Pattonville’s Darren Davidson were named to the all-tournament team.