For Michael Green and Kaelen Allen, the first time was the charm.
Green, a senior from Myrtle Beach Christian Academy, and Allen, a senior from Westchester (Ca.), took home titles on Sunday at the Beach Ball Classic. Green was the 3-point shooting contest champion, while Allen brought home the slam dunk contest title.
“My first shot, I hit the side of the backboard. When that happened, I knew everybody saw it, but I had to bounce back,” Green said. “I was able to put together two solid rounds to get to the end and give myself a chance to go for the title. There’s definitely a lot more pressure in this type of event than in a game, all eyes are on you and you have to step up and perform.”
Green stepped up with a final round of 13 shots, coming out with a flurry of buckets to build a strong lead that Scott County’s Cam Fluker, the top shooter from the first two rounds, couldn’t match.
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“I wanted to shoot last, but (Cam) had a better first two rounds than I did and he got to pick his place,” Green said. “I was able to watch those first two guys (Florence’s Jaylen Forbes and St Edward’s Josh Ogle) to see what they put up. From there, I did what I could to put the pressure all on Cam.”
With the title, the Beach Ball Classic 3-Point Shooting Contest championship stays locally on the Grand Strand for a second year, as Myrtle Beach’s Robert Swanson out-shot the field in 2017.
“Robert and I are really good friends and I told him before Beach Ball that I would bring home the title. I couldn’t let him have that over me,” Green said. “I’m happy that my first tournament 3-point shooting contest win was at the Beach Ball, that’s special.”
Following the 3-point contest, the field’s top dunkers took their turn at center stage. With 13 participants, the contest was about half the size of the 3-point contest, but was hotly contested in all three rounds, with a bit of controversy in the final round.
Allen took home the hardware for the contest, but Florence’s Tray Fort thought a recount of votes was needed, as his final dunk earned him 27 points, compared to 28 for Allen’s. Allen called upon a teammate, who passed him the ball from the stands for a thunderous dunk. Fort’s dunk earned a point less from the judges in part because it took multiple attempts to complete, while Allen’s dunk was completed immediately and drew a big reaction from the crowd.
“That was something my teammates and I thought of this morning,” Allen said of the creative final dunk. “I had a lot of other dunks in my bag but I thought that one would get me the best score from the judges and would get the crowd hyped up. For my first dunk contest, I was just wanting to make it to the final, but once I got here I knew I had to bring home the title.”