National Prep Championship Day One Recap
In the first game of the day St. Thomas More squared off against Hargrave Military Academy. Although the #1 seed jumped out to a 12-0 lead to start the game, STM wouldn’t be discouraged as they chipped away at the lead for the next 25 minutes. Ultimately, with only 8 minutes remaining in the game, Hargrave held a slim 2 point advantage. That was when their backcourt took over. The combination of Dee Bost (Mississippi State) and Damier Pitts seemed to make every shot they took after that point as Hargrave ultimately pulled away for a 98-75 lead.
NYC native Devin Ebanks had a fairly sub-par performance in his return to the city with a relatively quiet 22 points along with only 2 rebounds. T.J. Robinson continued to be solid under the basket with 17 points and 8 boards. STM got an unexpected boost from Anthony Panebianco (8 points, 3 assists, 2 three-pointers) and Zack Kinsley (9 points).
Another local star returned home in the second game as Tyreke Evans led American Christian versus NEPSAC champions Brewster Academy. But like Ebanks, Evans also failed to give his best performance in front of the home crowd as he scored only 12 points on 6 of 18 shooting from the floor, along with 4 assists to 5 turnovers.
Brewster on the other hand was clearly ready to play. Fresh off his MVP performance, Emmanuel Negedu continued to play inspired basketball as he dominated the backboard for 14 rebounds while also chipping in with 19 points. Mark Lyons was able to score at will pulling up behind the three-point line or knifing his way through the defense for acrobatic finishes. However, it was Anthony Crater who did a terrific job running the team and getting everyone involved. Utilizing his quickness, the Ohio State bound guard was able to hand out 10 assist while only turning the ball over 3 times. Trey Blue and Charles Abouo continue to be invaluable role players for Brewster as Blue finished with 16 points and Abouo 10 points and 6 rebounds.
After Brewster built up a 14 point second half lead, American Christian was able to fight back behind the inspired play of Lamont Jones. MoMo scored 23 points, almost all of which came in his team’s second half run, to make it a one possession game. But ultimately American Christian was unable to get stops down the stretch as Brewster’s versatile offensive attack helped them earn an 84-79 victory.
The third game of the day between the Patterson School and Notre Dame Prep lived up to the expectations created by this long lived rivalry. It was back and forth throughout all 40 minutes of action as neither team was able to establish a comfortable lead. Ultimately, it came down to the final two possessions. Notre Dame held a slim 72-70 advantage with 25 second remaining in the game. Coming out of a time-out the Patterson guards began to penetrate and pitch looking for some daylight. With 7 seconds left they found Mathiang Muo open on the right wing. The former Winchendon swingman knocked down the 3 to give Patterson a 73-72 advantage. Notre Dame quickly advanced the ball over half-court and called a time-out with 3.6 seconds remaining on the clock. Coming out of the huddle, Notre Dame Prep set up in their box alignment and got the ball to Melquan Bolding coming off two screens. The New York native took two dribbles toward the baseline and fired a three-point attempt. The shot banked in as time expired to give Notre Dame the victory and advance them to the semi-finals.
Bolding was clearly the star of the game as his game deciding shot was the culmination to a terrific second half performance. He finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, the vast majority of which came after halftime. Another local product also stepped up for Prep as Syracuse bound forward James Southerland scored 17 points showing his length and bounce around the rim. Kimmie English chipped in with 16 points and 8 rebounds despite going only 2-8 from behind the arc. As expected, Patterson was led by their backcourt trio of Varez Ward, Darius Johnson-Odom, and Courtney Fortson who finished with 22, 17, and 15 points respectively.
The final game of the day was played at a very high level for all 40 minutes as Findlay Prep continued their undefeated season by holding off a very talented Harmony team. Balance was the key for Findlay as they had five players score in double figures. Jorge Gutierrez, the only unsigned senior on the roster, made the most of his opportunity to play in front of so many division I coaches by scoring 22 points. Another local product, Dennis Scott, showed his marksmanship from downtown by converting on 4 three-pointers for 17 points. Jacques Streeter, Clarence Trent, and DeAndre Liggins rounded out the group with 13, 13, and 12.
Lonnie Hayes led the way for Harmony as he scored 27 points including five bombs from behind the arc. 6’7” wing Jason Henry slashed his way to 15 points.
Tonight’s semi-finals will begin at 6pm as #1 seed Hargrave Military Academy meets #4 seed Brewster Academy. Then at 8pm #2 Findlay Prep meets #6 Notre Dame Prep.