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The Denver Nuggets’ Wilson Chandler goes up for the reverse layup Sunday. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

The Denver Nuggets’ Wilson Chandler goes up for the reverse layup Sunday. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

NBA vet Jackson leads team to Tournament of the Stars title

Last Modified: Monday, August 12, 2013 10:37 AM

By Troy LaFleur / American Press

After years of trying, Stephen Jackson was finally able to capture the annual Tournament of the Stars championship on Sunday, earning tournament MVP honors along the way.

The 35-year old NBA swingman who most recently played for the San Antonio Spurs led his star-studded Original Trill Squad team to a narrow 62-58 victory over amateur side Deuce-Deuce out of Fort Worth, Texas.

“I’ve been coming here a long time, and it is a blessing to finally win a championship,” said Jackson. “The Tournament of the Stars is always a great host to us every year and it is a great way for us to be able to help out the kids.

“The competition also gets better every year. We are NBA players, but these guys can really play and they make it tough for us.”

Jackson’s squad was comprised of professional and amateur players from the Port Arthur and Baton Rouge areas. Among his teammates were Washington Wizards guard Garrett Temple, Sacramento Kings guard Marcus Thornton and Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler.

2013 marked the 19th year that Lake Charles has hosted the annual pro-am basketball tournament which has grown exponentially over the years.

The Tournament was founded by Harold McReynolds in 1995 to aid his scholarship fund for underprivileged children.

Jackson and the Original Trill Squad had to battle it out with over 40 other teams over the course of the weekend, but earned their ticket to the championship game by defeating the Houston Momentum in the semifinals earlier in the day. The Momentum were also defeated by Deuce-Deuce, eliminating them from the double-elimination tournament.

OTS and Deuce-Deuce were the only undefeated teams heading into the championship and decided to square off in a one game final.

OTS got off to a hot start in the first half behind consecutive three-pointers from Taz Mitchell, Temple and Thornton, but fell behind quickly after an onslaught from Deuce-Deuce’s Mims O’Neal and Martell Jones.

After a mostly back and forth half Jackson and Chandler put their team out in front by scoring a combined 10 points in the final two minutes, giving them a 37-31 lead heading into the break.

Deuce-Deuce started the second half off hot behind a sharp shooting performance by forward Ty Thomas, but Jackson and company quickly regained their lead and maintained it through the final whistle.

Jackson finished with a game high 17 points, while Chandler managed a double-double by collecting 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Thomas led the way for Deuce-Deuce with 14 points.

While Jackson admitted that this tournament may have been his last, Temple, a former LSU star, expressed his desire to return in coming years.

“I will definitely be back,” he said. “This was my second year and I was able to win a championship, so hopefully I can win more in the future.

“There is a lot of competition in this tournament, a lot of good basketball players that we have never heard of, and since the summer is all about honing your game and bettering yourself as a basketball player, I think participating in this tournament helps us all out.”

Earlier in the day the Memphis Lady Tigers collected their third consecutive women’s championship, making it their fifth overall by defeating the Louisiana Bayou Angels 61-55. Guard Ashley Shields was awarded with the tournament MVP honor.

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