Boys Club Holiday Classic Event Recap
Notre Dame Prep and Worcester Academy will face off tomorrow afternoon to decide the championship of the 13th Annual Holiday Classic. Both teams were tested on Friday. In fact, they were each forced to go to overtime in one of their games.
Worcester opened play against Bridgton Academy. The team from the north was holding on to a slim lead late in the second half until Austin Carroll rattled off five straight points by knocking down a three from the corner and then converting a double clutch lay-up in the lane to give WA a 54-52 lead with 2:30 left on the clock. But Bridgton was able to tie the score and with one minute remaining the teams were deadlocked at 54. With no shot clocks being used for this tournament, Worcester opted to go into their delay game until the ten second mark, when they got the ball to Gabe Kindred and let him go one on one in a clear out situation. Kindred made a strong drive down the left side of the lane, got a half of step on his defender, and launched a soft floater that banked off the glass and into the cup.
But Bridgton wouldn’t be defeated so easily. Head Coach White Lesure called a time-out and drew up a play to go the full length of the court in 6 seconds. Coming out of the huddle, Worcester attempted to surprise Bridgton with some full court pressure. But ultimately the move worked in favor of the offense, as Elliott Jones Jr. was able to split an oncoming trap and consequently go end to end with the dribble. As he got to the free throw line he was fouled just as he launched a runner that hit the glass hard and rolled off the rim. But the post-graduate showed great composure as he knocked down both free-throws to send the game into overtime.
The extra period was just as dramatic as regulation’s final minutes. WA was able to open up a 65-61 lead with 1:40 left to play. But Bridgton’s Isiah Wallace scored 3 of his game high 29 points to cut the lead to 1 with just under a minute left. On their next possession Cardell McFarland made a strong baseline drive, spun away from his defender, and was fouled as he attempted to finish at the rim. Once again, a Bridgton post-graduate showed great composure by knocking down two clutch free-throws giving them a one point lead. Worcester Academy was out of time-outs and was consequently forced to immediately inbound the ball with 20 seconds left in the game. Their guards worked the ball around the perimeter, nearly turning it over, until Ben Crenca was able to establish position deep on the low block with only a few ticks of the clock remaining. Crenca caught the post-entry pass, made an immediate drop step to the middle, and released a jump hook. The ball rolled around the rim and finally dropped to give Worcester the victory.
Notre Dame faced their toughest test in the semi-finals when they ran into another New England power in Lee Academy. Coach Carl Parker’s squad utilized their tremendous half-court defense to force overtime as they held Notre Dame to only 46 points. But in the extra period Prep was able to get their offense going quickly as they scored on their first four possessions. It all started with what appeared to be a diagrammed play off the opening tip that resulted in an uncontested lay-up for Kimmie English. On their second possession Terrence Jennings was able to power the ball up and through the basket after catching the ball deep in the paint. Next, Johnny Higgins made a strong drive down the right wing and banked in a runner from 12 feet plus the foul. On their fourth possession, Higgins made a pinpoint three-quarter court baseball pass that hit Melquan Bolding in stride. Bolding was fouled before he had the opportunity to lay it in, but was able to convert at the free-throw line. With 30 second left in the game Notre Dame had opened up a 60-50 lead. Nevertheless, Lee wouldn’t quit. The Maine club was able to score 7 points in the next 23 seconds to keep the game interesting. Ultimately though it was not enough, as Higgins iced the game at the free-throw line to give Notre Dame a 61-57 victory. Jennings led Notre Dame with what appeared to be a tripe double (no official stats were available) of points, rebounds, and blocked shots. Nate Tomlinson, who fouled out in regulation, led Lee with 17 points and numerous assists.
Other local teams in action included St. Mark’s, Notre Dame Prep “B”, Brunswick, and the Hyde School of Connecticut. St. Mark’s lost a hard fought opening round game to Blair Academy in overtime. Erik Murphy led the team with 21 points as he continued to score inside and out and was also running the floor very well. Nate Lubick set the tone with a big first half as he scored in transition, on the offensive glass, and by drilling his perimeter stroke. Dave Johnson was also very impressive. The first year point guard appears fully healed from his broken wrist and made a variety of pinpoint passes throughout the game.
Brunswick and Hyde were both able to pick up victories in the West Division. Brunswick was led by Justin Nowell as they knocked off the Peddie School 52-50 in yet another overtime game. Hyde ran away with their game against CFS as junior point guard Tywon Clark impressed with his solid ball-handling and impressive athleticism, that was on full display during an explosive break-away dunk. Also productive were Jovan Mitchell who controlled the interior and Jovan Smith who showed good quickness and athleticism attacking the basket from the wing.
The Boys Club Tournament will conclude on Saturday at Fordham University’s Rose Hill Gymnasium.