The United States have won the gold medal at the World Under 19 Championships. They went undefeated throughout the entire tournament and ended it today, July 7th, in a victory over Serbia.
In the semi finals on July 6th, the USA drew a match up against a strong Lithuania squad. The States were not intimidated however as they ran up the score early and often and dispatched Lithuania 100-60.
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State University’s point guard, had his best game of the tournament leading the USA with 18 points and only missing two field goal attempts the entire game. Justice Winslow continued his stellar tournament, backing up Smart with 15 points and also grabbing nine rebounds.
On the defensive end, the United States did not allow the Lithuanians any breathing room. As a team, they shot 21 for 58 from the field and none of their players scored in double digits. For a match up some people thought might give the Americans a bit of trouble, they were done away fairly quickly.
After the semi finals, it was time for a rematch against the Serbians. Of all the teams in the tournament, the Serbs were the only team to make the Americans sweat in their first game as the score was kept within single digits. The USA was thirsting to get a chance to show that they could handle the Serbians as easily as they did the rest of the Nations they faced but Serbia was still not willing to just pack it up and go.
At halftime, the score was 40-38 in favor of the Americans and it looked like it would be a close game all the way down to the wire. Serbia kept it close in the 3rd quarter as well but the lead finally started growing for the United States in the 4th and they were able to cap off the tournament with a 82-68 victory and the gold medal.
In the biggest game of the tournament, Louisville’s Montrezl Harrel came to play. The 6″7 forward had his best scoring input of the tournament with 17 points and also was a force in the paint defensively as he picked up four blocked shots. The same could be said for Findlay Prep’s Nigel William-Gross who made six of his nine field goal attempts to put up his best effort of the tournament with 15 points. Justice Winslow, the high schooler who had an absolutely terrific tournament, could not get off in this game as he remained in foul trouble and fouled out having only played six minutes and attempted only one shot.
Congratulations to the young men on the American team who can be proud of their dominant tournament run. For all of these players, not only is this a moment they will never forget, but it is also a great experience to build towards the future.