Balance leads to Boo's boys' unbeaten weekend at Nike event

Boo Williams worries when he loses and worries almost as much when he wins. He stresses about improvement when his teams lose and about overconfidence when they win.

He has the good fortune to address the latter situation after his boys 17-and-under travel team went unbeaten over the weekend in Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League stop at the BooPlex, the marquee division of his annual tournament.

Boo's boys capped a 5-0 weekend with two wins Sunday. They sped away from the talented, Georgia-based Southern Stampede 70-62 in the morning, then capped the weekend with a 70-64 comeback win against Chicago-based Mac Irvin Fire and its monster-in-training, 6-foot-10 Cliff Alexander.

"I think the key now is, we've just to keep going and not get big-headed," Boo said. "Unfortunately, it's very different than tournaments. You win a tournament, you get all excited, and you go to the next tournament. Now, your record's good and you've got a lead, but you've still got nine more games."

Boo's starless bunch — no top-100 rated players, no ACC scholarship offers yet — is now 8-1 and leads its division in the EYBL, Nike's summer-long, barnstorming league. The EYBL has two more stops next month, in Dallas and Minneapolis, after which the playoff field is determined for the annual Peach Jam in July.

"We played tons better than we did in Los Angeles," forward Dwayne Foreman said, referring to the first EYBL stop. "After our first two games here, we really started putting it together. We're really good now. I think we can win … we can be one of the best teams in this tournament."

Foreman, a 6-8 junior from Woodbridge by way of Massanutten Military Academy, totaled 30 points and seven rebounds, on 13-for-18 shooting in Sunday's two games. Rugged Rokas Gustys, a 6-9 junior from Lithuania who plays at Oak Hill Academy, totaled 20 points and 14 rebounds.

Thon Maker, the 7-foot freshman from Australia, had 11 points and 13 rebounds against Mac Irvin and all weekend put himself on the lists of every recruiting service and a slew of college coaches.

"I think our posts played well," Boo said. "We played within ourselves. We got the ball inside. I think the guys really played hard."

Boo's assistants — Leon Goolsby, Ivan Thomas and Jack Meriwether — helped him manage games and player minutes, and Bill Tose' helped prepare scouting reports on opponents.

"Compared to the first week, I think we got a lot better," guard Robert Johnson said. "We played a couple of the stronger teams this week and that gave us a chance to show how much better we are."

Johnson, a 6-3 junior from Benedictine in Richmond, scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half against Mac Irvin. He scored 16 points, with six assists in Sunday's first game.

Boo's team trailed Mac Irvin 31-25 at halftime, as Alexander soared and muscled his way to 15 points and 10 rebounds. In the second half, he managed just two points and five rebounds. Clearly, he and his teammates missed Jahlil Okafor, the 6-11 center and consensus No. 1 player in the country, who sat out the second consecutive weekend with an ankle injury.

"The big boy got tired," Boo said. "If he didn't get tired, we wouldn't have no game. Can you imagine them with him and Okafor? There'd be no goals. I mean, he just got tired of dunking. The first half, that was an NBA guy who happened to come to the wrong game at the wrong time."

Boo's team built a 12-point lead in the second half before a late flurry cut it to a one-possession game twice in the last minute. Johnson and Marc Evans from Great Bridge hit four free throws in the last 20 seconds to help clinch it.

Boo never dreamed of going undefeated over the weekend, not against that level of competition. But for his players, it was a point of pride.

"Coach Boo was saying we showed resiliency after each game," Foreman said. "After each game we bounced back. We knew we had to take care of business because this is his complex. We knew we had to go undefeated."

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