Roadrunners' 17-U team takes fourth at AAU nationals


Despite dropping back-to-back games on the final day, the Palo Alto-based Roadrunners finished fourth in the nation in the boys' 17-under division of the Division II AAU National Championships on Monday in Orlando, Fla.

The Roadrunners took a 6-1 record into the national semifinals, but dropped a 58-54 decision to eventual national runner-up South Carolina Express. That dropped the Roadrunners into the third-place game, where a team from New York City held on for a 79-70 victory at the HP Pavilion and Josten Center at the ESPN/Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World.

"It was the best finish ever in the program's history," said assistant coach Bruce Powell, the former Palo Alto High standout. "Last year we were in the top 20."

The program's previous best finish was seventh in 1993.

Powell and head coach Jeff Myles did a solid job of getting the Roadrunners to the finish line ahead of 106 other teams in their division. The Roadrunners finished 6-3 over the five-day event.

The Roadrunners opened with a victory over Boston, but dropped a five-point decision to Tampa (Fla.). A 25-point win over a team from Louisiana earned the Roadrunners second place in their bracket.

The Roadrunners then downed a team from New Jersey, which had won its pool, and followed that up with a five-point win over a Maryland team as the Roadrunners rallied from an 18-point deficit.

That put the Roadrunners into the Sweet 16 on Sunday, where they defeated another Louisiana team by 25 and edged a squad from Texas when on a halfcourt shot by Kalil James at the buzzer. The earned the Roadrunners their berth in the national semifinals, where Powell said: "We had no energy left in the final game."

Team members included Alec Wong, Israel Hakim and Michael Augustine from Paly; Nick Kao from Gunn, 6-fooot-9 Gabor Somogyi from Priory, Solomone Wolfgramm and Arun Sundaresan from Pinewood, 7-footer Brandon White, a Palo Alto native, from King's Academy, Webb Henninger of Menlo-Atherton, Matt Ennis of Woodside, former Paly player Ben Fujii and James, a Palo Alto native who plays for Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Three team members who were not able to make the trip were Holger Thorup, David Drew, and Will Loveless. Thorup is a 6-5 transfer from Denmark who will play for Palo Alto High this season.

The Roadrunners qualified for the AAU Nationals at a tournament in Sacramento in May -- the first time the full team was together -- and tuned up for nationals by taking second in another tourney (in Anaheim) in June.

The Roadrunners' 16-U team, coached by club director Curtis Haggins of Mid-Peninsula, went 4-3 and finished in the Elite Eight of the consolation bracket in its tournament.

The 16s went 1-2 in pool play, beat Academy Elite of Massachusetts before falling to Team Orlando and Team Nelsen (coached by the NBA's Jameer Nelsen. In the four-point loss to Team Orlando, the winners made 20 of 34 free throws.

The top two teams moved on, but the Roadrunners dropped into the Classic bracket and went 3-1 -- beating teams from Georgia, Alabama and Jacksonville before falling to Team Charlotte (N.C.), coached by former NBA player Jeff McGinnis.

The 16-U Roadrunners included E.J. Floreal (Paly), Peter Dennis (Paly), Aubrey Dawkins (Paly, transfer from St. Francis), Aldis Petriceks (Paly), Khalil and Khalid Johnson (St. Francis), Matt Staubert (St. Francis), Blair Mendy (Burlingame), Jackson Dion (Bellarmine), Brian Yu (Gunn), Demarcus Leonard (Milpitas), Albert Mostasabi (Serra), Darrius Wilson (James Logan), Markus Okono (Bellarmine) and Tramel McCollough (Woodside).

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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