Recap coverage of the event’s first three days.
by Brendan Hall
Fri., Jan. 16, 2009
The tournament’s first day saw New Leadership’s boys and girls’ teams put on quite a show.
Phillip Warrick kicked off the tournament by putting up 33 points in the Wildcats’ 71-64 win over Holyoke. Devonte Vanderpool also put up a double-double (17 points, 15 rebounds), while Eric Brown had 10 boards. Holyoke was led by Heriberto Rodriguez (24 points).
New Leadership’s Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir come just 3 points shy of setting the state’s all-time scoring mark. The mark of 2,710 points was set nearly two decades ago by Southwick-Tolland’s Rebecca Lobo. Abdul-Qaadir, a senior who will play for University of Memphis this fall, had 38 points and 8 rebounds in a 69-51 loss to Millbury.
As usual, the Woolies ran and gunned their way out to a quick lead, and it was the tandem of sophomore Julie Frankian (22 points, 18 rebounds) and senior Cailin Bullett (13 points, 5 assists) leading the way.
In the next game, Mater Dei sophomore Kaleena Lewis (33 points, 11 rebounds) led Mater Dei to a 75-46 win over Northampton by going on a tear in the first half. The Monarchs took a 48-23 lead over the Blue Devils into the break. Allanah Driscoll-Sbar led Northampton with 18 points and 5 rebounds.
In the nightcap of the first game, Minnechaug’s girls downed Springfield Central, 65-60, behind scoring from Brianna Kelly (19 points), Julia McWilliams (16) and Breanne Dufault (12). A’lece Mark (21 points) and Brisje Malone (20) led Central in scoring.
Sat., Jan. 17, 2009
Some might say the peculiar tale of Keith Gallon started four years ago in the Houston area, when the then-6-6, 360-pound 14-year-old with a guard mentality was dubbed “Tiny” by his AAU coach as a joke.
|Oak Hill-South Atlanta|
And it continued yesterday in the most peculiar of fashions. Not often does a kid standing 6-9 and 290 pounds step out for 3-pointers. But in yesterday’s game against South Atlanta in the second day of the Hoophall Classic, the Oak Hill senior big man spotted up in 3-point range nine times, nailing six of them and wagging his tongue toward the crowd with each make.
Late in the game, he sparked a rally with a put-back and trey in back-to-back possessions, putting the Warriors ahead for good and winning 65-58.
“That’s what I really like about being me. They don’t expect it,” Gallon said of his long-range ability, while slowly rubbing his bleeding right brow. “They think I’m going just going to go in there and do these little shots.”
Said South Atlanta’s Derrick Favors (25 points, 17 rebounds): “He’s a good player. I didn’t expect him to shoot like that.”
For the record, Gallon actually had a 10-16 day from 3-point range at last summer’s AAU Nationals, playing with Houston Hoops.
And while the Warriors have produced no shortage of household names in recent years—Carmelo, Rondo, Diop, Beasley, et al.—having the ability to bring a player of Gallon’s size out on the perimeter has been a pleasant change.
“It’s an added dimension you don’t have,” Oak Hill head coach Steve Smith said. “I think they didn’t guard him early because they didn’t think he could shoot that much. But we stepped him out for a reason.”
For a while, it seemed like Georgia Tech-bound Favors was going to take over the game himself. He reached a double-double early in the second quarter, to put the Hornets up at the half, 28-23, with momentum.
But the Warriors swung the momentum in the fourth quarter. With 3:30 to go, Oak Hill point guard Doron Lamb came up to the sideline for a half court trap on Nick Watkins, taking the ball when he mishandled it and laying it in for a 50-49 lead. Gallon then had a put-back on the ensuing possession, and then nailed his sixth trey from the left wing to complete a 9-0 run.
South Atlanta cut it to 59-58 with two treys from Andre Malone, but turned the ball over on its next possession with 21 seconds left.
In the preceding game, Montverde Academy staved off a late rally from Mount Vernon to win, 74-65. Junior Justin Jackson led the way for Montverde with 24 points and 15 rebounds, while Villanova-bound James Bell had 19 points and Auburn-bound Rob Chubb had 11.
“I took it to the hole a lot, because that’s where I thought we had an advantage,” said the 6-foot-9 Jackson, a junior who is considering schools from the ACC, Big East and SEC.
Indeed, Montverde carried a slew of size in the frontcourt. Five players on the roster are 6-foot-8 or taller, including Arizona State-bound center Ruslan Pateev.
The Majors trailed at the half, 41-26. But thanks to their guard trio of Jordan Lessane (17 points), Jabarie Hinds (18) and Sherrod Wright (22 points, six rebounds), they were able to cut it to under seven.
In the end, though, size won out.
“It’s good to be tall in basketball,” Mount Vernon head coach Bob Cimmino laughed. “That might be the tallest team we’ve ever faced.”
The day kicked off two victories by teams from the Middlesex League. American Heritage looked good early against defending Massachusetts Division 1 state champion Central Catholic, but almost surrendered the lead late.
At first, this game had all the makings of a blowout. Heritage led, 30-10, after one quarter, and put on quite the show with its two Division 1 scholarship guards, Kenny Boynton (Florida) and Raymond Taylor (Florida Atlantic).
They started the game with a 20-4 run, highlighted by a long no-look pass in transition from Raymond Taylor (21 points, five assists) to junior swingman Remi Barry. Behind the flashy play of Taylor and Florida-bound guard Kenny Boynton (28 points, seven rebounds), this game appeared to have the makings of a mismatched.
“I could call a game with my eyes closed,” Taylor said when asked about his chemistry with Boynton. “Basically, I feed off him.”
And as for the no-look pass? Taylor couldn’t help but giggle.
“Coach (Danny Herz) calls me Houdini, so I like to give them stuff like that out of a hat.”
But Central stormed back with a terrific fourth quarter, behind the efforts of guard Billy Marsden (25 points, 7-of-26 shooting) and 6-foot-10 center Carson Desrosiers (23 points, 13 rebounds, three 3-pointers). The Raiders outscored Heritage, 31-8, in the final frame for an 82-77 loss.
Taylor came away from the game impressed by Desrosiers’ perimeter shooting. For the game, Desrosiers was 10 of 16 from the field, and 3 of 6 from three-point range.
“We didn’t know what to expect from them,” he said.
In the final game of the day, Hillhouse held on for an intense 47-44 win over Springfield Central. The Golden Eagles trailed Hillhouse by double digits in the first half, but took a brief 44-43 lead with two minutes to go on a Jordan Smith drive. Central was unable to score the rest of the way. Jeremy Moore led Hillhouse with 13 points.
Sun., Jan. 18, 2009
A snowstorm in Winchendon made for a shaky bus ride to Springfield for the Winchendon School team. Green Wave Head Coach Mike Byrnes used the opportunity for inspiration, putting the film “300” on the televisions.
“Before the game, I put the word ‘phalanx’ up on the board. They had never heard the word before,” Byrnes said. “I said, they have seven guys on their team, all ranked higher than everybody here. I said, but we play with 12. The Spartans came together in a phalanx, and they were able to overcome.”
That they did. The Green Wave downed Patterson, 81-70, behind 19 points each from UMass-bound Sampson Carter and Hofstra-bound Yves Jules (10 rebounds). Junior Preye Preboye, a transfer from Springfield Central, also put up a double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds), in his hometown return.
“I couldn’t sleep last night,” he laughed.
Patterson was led in scoring by Vincent Council (17 points) and got a double-double from Georgia State-bound Rashanti Harris (14 points, 11 rebounds).
In the first game of the third day, Tilton capitalized on its height advantage with UConn-bound forwards Alex Oriakhi (23 points, 17 rebounds) and Jamal McCoombs-McDaniel (33, 9). They easily dispatched Hotchkiss, 98-79, despite a 30-point effort from Derrick Wilson.
Gonzaga College got 24 points and 8 rebounds from hot-handed junior guard Cedrick Lindsay, while Princeton-bound forward Ian Hummer added 17, in a 60-53 win over St. Mark’s. The Lions’ two highly touted Division 1 prospects—senior Erik Murphy (Florida) and junior Nate Lubick (Georgetown) combined for 24 points and 21 rebounds.
In the next game, DeMatha Catholic’s Tennessee-bound Josh Selby did a number from the floor, shooting 75 percent (12-15) and totaling 28 points as the Stags downed Ss. John Neumann-Maria Goretti, 88-71. Texas A&M-bound forward Naji Hibbert also added 17 points in the win. Wake Forest-bound guard Tony Chennault paced Neumann with 20 points.
Snow troubles prevented Brewster Academy from making it to Springfield; its last-minute replacement was the St. Lambert, Quebec-based Champlain, which was on its way back from a tournament at St. Thomas More in Connecticut. The play of Hargrave and its five scholarship athletes was too much to overcome, though, as they went on to win 91-57.
Worcester Academy took advantage of its size advantage over St. Andrew’s, using the presence of 6-9 Vermont-bound forward Ben Crenca (10 points, 10 rebounds). The Hilltoppers beat St. Andrews, 79-64.