(Photo Courtesy of Ben Solomon)
by Tim Daniel and Parker Fields
On the third night of the week here at the Cintas Center it was time for the TBT Regional championship game between Zip Em Up and Florida TNT. Zip Em Up of course is primarily former Xavier players in their home arena and Florida TNT is a team based out of players who mainly group up in Florida. Zip Em Up is headlined by Semaj Christon who came into the game averaging 15 points and 8 assists per game in the tournament. Florida TNT is headlined by their big man Keith Clanton who averaged 19.5 points and 9.5 rebounds heading into tonight's game. As a team, Zip Em Up came into tonight's game averaging 91.5 points per game, shooting 47% from the field and 29% from three. Florida TNT came into tonight averaging 100.5 points per game, shooting 54% from the field and 40% from three. This was set to be a showdown between the two best teams in this region in a win-or-go-home matchup.
The game was a true back-and-forth battle between both teams. The game was tied at the half, and then the second half saw the leads go back and forth throughout the contest.
Both teams really left it all on the floor, bringing all the energy they had left from playing their third game in four days. Zip Em Up had their best shooting night from the perimeter shooting 39% but struggled from the stripe shooting just 65%.
Zip Em Up was able to establish an impressive pick 'n roll offense between Semaj Christon and Kerem Kanter giving the team the ability to use their sharpshooters around the perimeter when the shots were available.
On the other end, Florida TNT was just able to flex their muscles and take over during the Elam Ending starting with Kenny Boynton hitting two free throws at the start of the Elam Ending to give his team the two-point lead. Christopher Warren finished the game with 27 points but no shot was bigger than the walk-off three-pointer to seal the deal and give his team the Xavier regional victory. The team also got major contributions from Dominique Jones who also had 22 points.
While Zip 'Em Up didn't get the win, the talent level and success this group put together leave a strong foundation for their future in the tournament. Trevon Bluiett had flashed through this week where it looked like he was just a shot or two away from finding his rhythm to carry, the team just ran out of time. JP Macura showed the toughness Xavier fans loved and appreciated through his four-year career, and also had a few deep three-point baskets including the game-winner in the second game.
Other guys like Nate Johnson contributed with his three and D ability, and Xavier's favorite adopted son Riley LaChance hit some deep threes that helped this team get to just a few minutes away from the trip to Dayton.
Overall this was a good run from Zip Em Up. They showed the capabilities of these team for future years to come. Their ability to pass the ball and find the open man led to a good amount of success in the TBT this year. I'm looking forward seeing this team come back even stronger next year and make a run at the 1 Million dollars next year.