The Money Team and Blue Collar U won their respective contests Tuesday night at the Covelli Center in Columbus, Ohio, to each advance to the TBT quarterfinals, where they’ll meet each other in Dayton on Saturday at 9 p.m. EST.
First, Blue Collar U, the Buffalo alumni squad, took care of Category 5, the Miami (FL) alumni team, controlling the game from the opening tip. C.J. Massinburg led a balanced scoring attack with 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field and three assists. Jeremy Harris, who drained four triples on the night, and Nick Perkins, who hauled in seven boards, both also scored in double figures as Blue Collar U triumphed, 78-61.
However, Blue Collar U may have lost one of its biggest contributors in the game. Wes Clark left the game in the final minute of the second quarter with a leg injury. He did not play again and later resurfaced on the bench with his leg elevated and crutches by his side. His possible absence Saturday would create a large void the Bulls alumni would have to fill to keep the $1 million dream alive.
Harris isn’t concerned, though, in part because of the team’s depth – all 11 players who saw the floor scored at least three points.
“That’s what’s good about this team, we’ve got so many great players,” he said. “We’re gonna be fine, it’s on to the next one. But we need Wes. He’s gonna be alright, he’ll get his hamstring worked out.”
The second game of the doubleheader provided fans with the best contest of the entire region.
The Money Team trailed by 18 to Carmen’s Crew, the Ohio State alumni squad, late in the third quarter and were down 10 after Jon Diebler sank a three-pointer with 5:40 remaining in the game. But a 10-0 run that bled into the Elam Ending knotted the contest at 83, and The Money Team responded to four quick Carmen’s Crew points with a flurry of its own, benefiting majorly from being on the bonus.
Xavier Munford had 13 points in the fourth quarter, including the Elam Ending game winner – a pull up, mid-range jumper after crossing Diebler up at the top of the key to create enough separation for the look. His heroics clinched The Money Team’s spot in the final eight of TBT 2021, 91-89.
“We all had the same mindset,” Munford said. “The whole team is fill of killers, so we go out there each game, and our mentality is to kill and do whatever we’ve got to do to win.”
According to The Money Team guard Jordan Crawford, Munford’s plan was to hit a three when the team was within three of the Elam Ending. When circumstances changed, so did the plan, but the result was the same.
“Before that happened, he came up to me when we needed a three, and he said, ‘I’m shooting a three, I’m letting you know that,'” Crawford said. “So they called a foul, then he finished it, so he called it before it happened.”
Not only did The Money Team get it done after going down big, it did it in what was unquestionably a road environment. And the team seemed to quite enjoy shutting down the Ohio State-heavy crowd, waving goodbye to the stunned partisans after Munford’s dagger.
“We all just came off a year with no fans,” The Money Team forward Jarrod Jones said. “Being able to come out here and be in that atmosphere, it’s like hey, throw in some fire. We love it, we want that.”
TBT continues Wednesday night with third round games in Peoria, Illinois, then starts again Saturday for the event’s quarterfinals in Dayton.
Featured photo courtesy of Ben Solomon.