CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Championships are won when teams work together and strive toward a common goal. While the success of a team depends much more on the collective than the individual, it is also important to understand that when the lights are on and the stage is set, there are certain players who have the ability to rise to the occasion and give their team just a little something extra. Here are six players who laid it all on the line in a championship game at the 2011 Nike Tournament of Champions.
Courtney Ekmark, St. Mary's (Phoenix, Ariz.), Smith Division: For four days in Arizona, Ekmark's abilities were on display. And at one of the marquee events on the high school calendar, Ekmark helped her team take home the championship. One of the better perimeter scorers in the 2014 class, Ekmark's success is predicated on her ability to play within the framework of an offense and make the right cut at the right time to free herself up. Her ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter makes her a focal point for any defense, but Ekmark stands out with her understanding of how much a defense is going to overplay her and how to counter pressure in half-court situations. In the championship matchup against Riverdale Baptist, it was Ekmark's savvy that stood out on a floor full of future college standouts. Her quality decision-making as well as her movement without the ball made her one of the game's most notable performers.
Malina Hood, Country Day (La Jolla, Calif.) Anderson Division: It is always a pleasure to watch a prospect continually add to her game and develop it over time. This week we saw growth in Hood's game, and it helped her team clinch a the Anderson Division championship. At 5-foot-10, Hood has always been a smooth athlete with the ability to elevate around the rim. Over the past couple of years, however, Hood's perimeter game has shown development. This week the senior showed further improvement in her ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter with consistency as well as creating plays off the bounce. In the final against Holy Cross (Kensington, Md.), Hood showed an improved confidence in her ability to impact the game from the wing and to be a factor with her athleticism.
Jonquel Jones, Riverdale Baptist, (Upper Marlboro, Md.), Smith: While Jones may not have had enough to help her team win the Smith Division championship, she might be the biggest individual winner coming out of the week as far as prospects go. In the past we have commented on how much Jones has grown as a perimeter player and as a college prospect. Jones, a 6-3 senior forward, did nothing this week but continue to impress with her play. As of late, she is a much more comfortable perimeter player and is starting to shoot the ball with real confidence. Whether it is a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer or a one-dribble pull-up, Jones is starting to show an extreme comfort level in making those reads accurately and having success when she is put in the position to score. While Jones is a vastly improved offensive player, she is also an equally devastating defensive force. She uses her length and athleticism as assets on the defensive end and has really started to buy into making her presence known on that side of the ball. Her physical tools allow her to guard multiple positions well, and this week Riverdale Baptist called on her to guard the likes of 6-7 center Imani Stafford of Windward and 5-8 guard Nirra Fields of Mater Dei.
Chantel Osahor, St. Mary's (Phoenix, Ariz.), Smith: If you get caught up in packaging and presentation, you might miss one of the truly special members of the class of 2013. Osahor is a bit undersized for the center position, and on the offensive end she spends a lot of her time standing on the perimeter instead of banging in the post. If you look a little closer, however, you will find one of the more intriguing talents in the entire country. Osahor's play this week was simply special. She was a force on the boards as she managed to eat space and battle with some of the best forwards and posts in the country, and then she created major matchup problems on the offensive side of the ball with her ability to shoot the perimeter jumper in addition to passing the ball from the high post as well as anyone in the country. She is a unique talent who brings a diverse skill set to the floor whenever she plays. Her impact on the game and ability to be a positive factor on both sides of the ball helped propel St. Mary's to the title.
Kelsey Plum, Country Day (La Jolla, Calif.), Anderson: As far as combo guards go, Plum acts as a working definition of the position. The 5-9 junior lefty has the ability to play both guard positions due to her advanced skill set and high basketball IQ. Plum understands how to operate in the halfcourt with or without the basketball in her hands and consistently makes quality plays for herself and her teammates. She has a consistent perimeter jumper and a will to win and compete that is simply fun to watch. Plum is one of those prospects who does all the little things but has the ability to make the big plays that help you get noticed in the long run.
Shilpa Tummala, St. Mary's (Phoenix, Ariz.), Smith: It is impossible to overvalue the ability to score consistently from the perimeter. The attention that a true perimeter scoring threat can draw from an opposing defense can be enough to make the game easier for her teammates and change the outcome of a game. Harvard signee Tummala is that kind of threat. The 5-11 shooting guard is equipped with a lethal perimeter jumper and has the ability to pick her spots and attack off the bounce as well. One of the more remarkable things about Tummala's game is her relentless attack on the offensive end of the floor. She is the kind of guard who isn't riled if she misses one shot or 10 shots in a row -- she still is going to be aggressive the next trip down. At one point in the championship game against Riverdale Baptist, Tummala rattled off eight straight points, creating a mini-run of her own.
Follow us on Twitter, where you can ask questions and get instant updates.
Become a fan of the site on Facebook and get updates in your news stream.
Discuss this on our Message Board.
Keil Moore is a contributor and national recruiting analyst for ESPN HoopGurlz. He is also the Director of Scouting for the JumpOffPlus.com National Scouting Report - a division of Peach State Basketball, Inc. Moore has been involved in the community since 2007 as a recruiting analyst and trainer. He can be reached at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter @keilmoore.