Former MU players power Tri-City in Slam-Fest final

Monday, October 1, 2007
Tri-City's Jared Staples slammed in two points Sunday during the championship game of Slam-Fest at Indian Park. (Fred Lynch)

Watch video of Slamfest 2007

As a native of Southern Illinois who grew up not far from Cape Girardeau, Bobby Edwards had played in Slam-Fest before.

But the fact Edwards now lives in Columbia, Mo., likely helped the team he put together win the championship of Slam-Fest 2007 on Sunday at Indian Park.

Two former University of Missouri players who Edwards has gotten to know participated in Slam-Fest for the first time this weekend.

Both Albert White and James Douglas proved to be key performers as their Tri-City squad came out of the loser's bracket to capture the title in the 16th annual outdoor basketball tournament.

TOP: Keyth Blissett Jr., right, Davontae Bell and Martez Carter devised their own basketball game with a trash can alongside the Slam-Fest court Sunday at Indian Park. BOTTOM: Kevin Williams, right, of Flye's All-Stars challenged Tri-City's Albert White for the ball in the first half of the championship game Sunday. (Fred Lynch)

"I've played in it before, and this year I brought some new guns with me," said a smiling Edwards, Tri-City's player-coach.

After Tri-City lost to the defending champion Flye's All-Stars on Sunday morning, the team needed to win three games without a loss in the double-elimination format.

Tri-City pulled it off, including 48-45 and 50-41 victories over Flye's All-Stars, who consisted primarily of players from the New Madrid area and Cape Girardeau.

"We just needed to bounce back," White said.

The 6-foot-6 White was named the tournament MVP as he scored 17 points in the first championship-round win over Flye's and added 10 points -- all in the second half -- during the title clincher.

Kevin Williams, right, of Flye's All Stars challenged Tri City's Albert White for the ball in the first half of the championship game of Slamfest Sunday at Indian Park. (Fred Lynch)

White, a Detroit native, played his freshman season at the University of Michigan before transferring to Missouri, where he finished up his college career. In the 1998-99 season he led the Tigers with a 16.3 scoring average.

White has been playing professionally overseas, including the last four years in South Korea. During his off-seasons, he still lives in Columbia.

"We play ball in Columbia all the time and he [Edwards] asked me if I wanted to play in this tournament," White said. "Cape was cool, a lot of fun, and Bobby is good people."

Douglas, a 6-3 guard who was a reserve at Missouri during his lone season with the Tigers in 2005-06, added 22 points in the two championship-round games.

"Living in Columbia now, I know Al and James pretty well," said Edwards, who is originally from the Cairo, Ill., area.

Tri-City, which also had its share of players from the Cairo-Mounds area of Southern Illinois, was actually led in scoring during the two championship-round contests by Jared Staples.

The 6-5 Staples led the clinching victory with 17 points, after he had 13 points in the earlier contest.

Flye's was led by the likes of former New Madrid County Central High School and Arkansas State star Dereke Tipler, former NMCC player Derrell Minner and Cape Girardeau basketball veteran Mike Colon.

For the first time Slam-Fest awarded its champion a cash prize. For capturing the title, Tri-City received $1,000.

Moore pleased with event

For the first time, Slam-Fest was held in late September instead of the third weekend in August, primarily to try and avoid the heat.

Although only five teams entered, after 10 squads participated last year, event director Stafford Moore Jr. said he felt things went well.

"Having the date pushed back probably took some teams out, but overall I feel it was a great success," said Moore, who added that no decision has yet been made on whether next year's tournament will be held in September or move back to August.

The tournament raises money for the House of Prayer Educational Youth Domestic Center in Cape Girardeau.

"It's all about bringing the community together," said Moore, who was not sure how much money this year's event raised.

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