Heartland Insurance stops Charleston twice, wins title

Monday, August 23, 2004

The Cape Girardeau team captured the final contest 50-45 to win Slamfest.

By Marty Mishow ~ Southeast Missourian

To Luther Bonds, a player for the Heartland Insurance basketball team, it was only fitting that his squad climbed out of the loser's bracket and beat defending champion Charleston twice Sunday to win the 13th annual Slamfest at Indian Park.

Last year, Charleston did the same thing to the Cape Girardeau team after it entered the final round of the double-elimination outdoor basketball tournament without a loss.

"It was the same thing last year, only this time we pulled it out," said a grinning Bonds.

Heartland Insurance lost to Charleston Sunday morning in the winner's bracket final, meaning the team had to win three more games, including two over Charleston. The first contest against the defending champs was a 50-34 romp and the finale wound up 50-45. Tournament rules stipulate that the first team to score 50 points is declared the winner.

Bonds played basketball at Southeast Missouri State University, completing his eligibility in 1994. That season, the forward was the Indians' second-leading scorer and rebounder.

But it was a much younger ex-Southeast player who stole the show Sunday. Damarcus Hence, a forward who finished his career with the Indians last season, scored 24 points in the final contest and was named the tournament's most valuable player.

"This is my first year playing, but I heard the games against Charleston are always tough," Hence said. "I'm glad we could win it this time."

Hence, who scored from in close for the basket that gave his team 50 points and ended things, had 16 second-half points. Lorenzo Duncan added 10 points for the winners and Devon Pruitt contributed nine. Rico Coleman led Charleston with 23 points.

In the first championship round game with Charleston, Hence had 12 points, Pruitt 11 and Bonds 10.

Pruitt, who is from St. Louis, capped an impressive day as he also won the slam-dunk contest held between the final two games.

Slamfest founder Scott Porter termed the event -- which raises money for the House of Prayer Educational Youth Domestic Center in Cape Girardeau -- once again a major success as several thousand people filled Indian Park over the weekend.

"Everything went great, we really appreciate Bird & Associates for being the corporate sponsor and hopefully everybody will come back again next year," Porter said.

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