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May 31, 2011CARROLLTON, Texas -- One of the best summer teams in the nation just so happens to be a high school team from Texas.
Flower Mound Marcus High School made the finals of yet another grassroots tournament on Monday, and the team defeated the Dallas Mustangs, 63-55, in the finals of the Memorial Day Great American Shoot-Out at the Integrated Athletic Development. Marcus, with the win, won its second consecutive GASO championship, as it claimed the May GASO title the first week of last month.
Monday's final was a much-anticipated rematch from the May GASO, which Marcus won by 18. Marcus had a big second half in the first meeting against the Mustangs in May. Monday's meeting was decided with a couple of big plays late in the second half.
"This one was a grind, and it was all about will power," Marcus coach John Leininger said. "It was all about big players making big plays."
Marcus' trio of Marcus Smart, Phil Forte and Nick Banyard came up big in the second half, scoring 33 of the team's 34 points in the half. Banyard had the most critical points, scoring a basket at the 1:55 mark to give Marcus a four-point lead and then giving the crowd a monster dunk with 40 seconds remaining to give Marcus a 57-52 edge.
For the game, the trio combined for 53 of the team's 63 points. Smart led the way for Marcus by contributing 23 points, 11 rebounds, five steals and five assists.
Marcus only led, 29-24, at the half. The Mustangs pulled within one a couple of times in the second half, but Marcus never managed to give up its lead permanently.
"They did a great job of executing," Mustangs coach Al Johnson said. "They capitalized off a few mistakes we had on offense and defense. Every time we fought back to cut the lead to two or three, they came right back with a basket or a free throw. That's how smart they were. If we scored, they answered back."
Leininger added: "They [the Mustangs] are very good. I want to make sure that's known. They're very good."
In addition to Smart's performance, Forte had 15 points, and Banyard added 13 for Marcus. Ryan Bowie and Zach LeDay combined for 25 points to lead the Mustangs.
Marcus finished the tournament with a 7-1 record. The loss, a rarity with the team's group of players, came in a pool-play game against the Houston Select on Sunday. Smart did not play in that game, as he rested from a nagging turf toe injury. Following that loss, it was evident that the Marcus players were determined not to lose again.
"We took [Houston Select] a little lightly, and we learned good lessons from it," Leininger said. "They know this is all about Marcus basketball, and these kids are winners. They know how to win, and they won't accept anything else."
MEMORIAL DAY GREAT AMERICAN SHOOT-OUT
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME BOXSCORE
(At the Integrated Athletic Development, Carrollton)
MARCUS HS 29 34 - 63
DAL. MUSTANGS 24 31 - 55
Marcus: Marcus Smart 23, Nick Banyard 13, A.J. Luckey 6, Jared Hamilton 3, Phil Forte 15, John Malone 3
Mustangs: Ryan Bowie 14, Jabril Durham 6, Niem Stevenson 8, Randy White 2, Zach LeDay 11, Julius Foster 8, Travon Owens 3, Darius Parker 3