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2017 NABC-NAIA Shoot & Slam, Presented by US Bank

March 18, 2017
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By Nikki Sherrill, Athletics Communications and Media Intern

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Video of winning slam dunk - Henry French | French Dunk jumping over) In conjunction with the 80th Annual Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship, four of the nation’s best long-range shooters and four of the highest flying dunkers took to the court in the 4th Annual NABC-NAIA Shoot & Slam, presented by US Bank. The event took place at Municipal Arena in downtown Kansas City before the second set of quarterfinals took place. Zach Taylor from Carroll (Mont.) took the 3-Point title while Henry French of Trinity International (Ill.) awed the judges to capture the Slam Dunk contest.

The 3-Point Contest was first and featured four shooters from across the country. Michael Gholston of Central Christian (Kan.), Jalen McGaughy from Dillard (La.) and IU East’s (Ind.) Kyle Pipenger joined Taylor in the event. Each contestant got 60 seconds to hit as many 3-pointers as they could from five racks with five basketballs on each. The first four basketballs were worth one point and the “money” ball, or final ball, could earn the shooter two points.

After the first round, McGaughy out-shot the others to record 16 points. The last spot in the final round was up for grabs between Taylor and Gholston as they headed to a tiebreaker. The two shooters each got one extra go around of 60 seconds and Taylor captured a spot in the final round after earning 17 points and eliminating Gholston as he came up short at 15 points.

The final round matched up McGaughy and Taylor for the title. McGaughy was first and he was able to connect for 13 points. Taylor, now in his third trip around the arc, netted 16 points to capture the honor and win the 3-Point Contest for 2017.

"This was just an unbelievable experience for me and I'm thankful for the opportunity,” said Taylor. “I was having fun because I'm with these guys, (my teammates) who were supporting me."

Last season, Trae Bergh from Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) earned 21 points which matches the highest amount in this event’s four-year tenure.

FIRST ROUND
16 points – Jalen McGaughy – Dillard (La.)
14 points – Zach Taylor – Carroll (Mont.)
14 points – Michael Gholston – Central Christian (Kan.)
12 points – Kyle Pipenger – IU East (Ind.)

TIEBREAKER ROUND
17 points – Zach Taylor – Carroll (Mont.)
15 points – Michael Gholston – Central Christian (Kan.)

CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND
16 points – Zach Taylor – Carroll (Mont.)
13 points – Jalen McGaughy – Dillard (La.)

Next was the dunkers, who each were given two minutes per dunk with two opportunities in the first-round in front of an excited crowd and five celebrity judges, including KC Mayor Sly James. After the first set of attempts, Johnny Griffin Jr. from Loyola (La.) and Henry French of Trinity International were tied at 45 points, while Brendan Chapman of Science & Arts (Okla.) and Brendyn Taylor from Northwest Christian (Ore.) each earned 48. After the second dunks for the athletes, the two with only 45 points were able to advance into the final round after they both captured perfect scores from the judges to end the round tied at 95 points. Taylor and Chapman were both eliminated after the first round with Taylor ending with 89 points and Chapman walked away with 81 points.

The final round followed the same first-round rules for the athletes as they each got two minutes per dunk. Griffin Jr. was up first and he could not complete a between-the-legs dunk so he settled for a comfortable dunk to earn 43 points. French countered back and earned 45 points to go up two points heading into the second dunks.

The final dunks for the athletes saw them bring out their best as Griffin Jr. connected on a 360-turn dunk to wow the judges and earn 10’s across the board. French would not be out-done as he slammed an over-the-head dunk after throwing it behind his back to earn himself 50 points and win the contest with 95 total points.

"I never a won a national dunk contest,” said French. “I've won a Midnight Madness dunk contest before but you don't get a trophy for those and you don't go up against the best in the country. There was some freaky athletes out there. For me to be able to edge them all out is something I have to give thanks to God for."

The 2016 Slam Dunk Contest ended with Richard McCalop from Science & Arts earning a perfect 100-point score to take home the trophy.

FIRST ROUND
95 points – Johnny Griffin Jr. – Loyola (La.)
95 points – Henry French – Trinity International (Ill.)
89 points – Brendyn Taylor – Northwest Christian (Ore.)
81 points – Brendan Chapman – Science & Arts (Okla.)

CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND
95 points – Henry French – Trinity International (Ill.)
93 points – Johnny Griffin Jr. – Loyola (La.)