WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Boo Williams, his clothes soaked with sweat, danced wildly before composing himself. His players mobbed one another before collapsing into a delirious flesh pile.
Anyone who believes summer basketball lacks intensity and desire didn't see Williams' summer league all-stars win the 17-and-under Amateur Athletic Union national championship Saturday at Joel Coliseum.
In a contest fraught with emotion, athleticism and nose-to-nose woofin', the Hampton Roads team defeated the Charlotte (N.C.) Sonics 82-78.
``What a great game,'' Williams said. ``We've got some tough kids. This is all they talked about. They wanted to do what Alonzo Mourning did.''
Four years ago, Mourning and Bryant Stith, both first-round selections in last month's National Basketball Association draft, led Hampton Roads to its first national title.
``Alonzo came back earlier this summer and kidded them and said they didn't have the ring yet,'' Williams said. ``Allen and some of them took it personally.''
Allen is Allen Iverson, the rising junior guard at Bethel High School who was named the Most Valuable Player of the 57-team tournament. Saturday, Iverson had 25 points, six rebounds and five assists against the touted backcourt of Jeff McInnis and Jeff Capel.
But with 1:55 to play and Hampton Roads leading 77-74, Iverson fouled out. Charlotte tied the game at 78, but Tarik Turner of Charlottesville put Hampton Roads ahead 80-78 with a spinning move in the lane with 49 seconds remaining.
After McInnis missed, Turner hit one of two free throws. Charlotte missed three shots on its next possession, and Sussex Central High's Aljamont Joyner made one of two free throws with 8.8 seconds remaining.
``I was just hoping the game didn't go into overtime,'' Iverson said. ``I would have hated sitting on the bench and watching that.''
``There can't be a better guard in the country than Iverson,'' Williams said. ``He's just a great player.''
Iverson, 5-foot-11, spent much of the game matched against McInnis, a 6-2 rising senior at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va. McInnis, a Charlotte resident, bulled his way in the lane for 23 points, but Iverson and Hampton High's Damon Bacote made him struggle for his points.
Also, Nansemond River's Derrick Bryant, who will attend Bucknell this fall, played excellent defense against Charlotte forward Jerry Stackhouse, rated among the top five rising seniors in the nation. Stackhouse scored a game-high 26 points and made five 3-pointers, but he also missed 11 of his 19 shots.
Capel, a rising senior from Hope Mills, N.C., who already has committed to Duke, sustained a severely sprained left ankle with 3:02 remaining in the second quarter and did not return.
``You don't stop Stackhouse; he's a great player,'' Williams said. ``I figured the guards would be even. Defensively, I thought we played about as well as we could play. Joe Smith in the middle was a big difference.''
Smith, a 6-9 rising senior at Norfolk's Maury High, stamped himself an Atlantic Coast Conference prospect this week. He made the 15-player all-tournament team and had 19 points and 10 rebounds in the final. Several of his field goals came on turn-around jumpers in Stackhouse's face.
``That's because I wasn't intimidated,'' Smith said.
Hampton Roads, which went 8-0 in the tournament, trailed by as many as nine points in the first half. But Iverson and Smith combined to score 11 points in the final 3:21 of the half, and Iverson's 24-foot 3-pointer from the right wing gave Hampton Roads a 39-38 lead at intermission.
Neither team led by more than six points in the fierce second half.
McInnis wasn't impressed. He said the Memphis team that Charlotte defeated in Friday's semifinals by 10 points was better than Hampton Roads.
``He's a great player,'' Iverson said of McInnis. ``I didn't know he was that good.''
Until this week, few people knew how good Allen Iverson is.