National Prep Showcase - Day One Recap
Fork Union Military Academy 71 (VA) Northfield Mount Hermon (MA) 80
With both teams struggling to find an offensive rhythm in the opening minutes of the event’s first contest, the tempo eventually picked up as Fork Union and NMH went back-and-forth in what turned out to be a highly-competitive first half. Seton Hall commit Aaron Cosby led the attack for NMH, knocking down multiple three-point shots and attacking close-outs to get into the lane for easy scores. 6’5” forward Ryan Canoy carried the load early for Fork Union, showcasing a smooth stroke from behind the arc and driving past defenders to create offense for himself and open teammates. Fellow Ivy League commits Armani Cotton (Yale) and Joe Sharkey (Brown) found some space late in the first-half for open jumpers, as NMH took a 37-33 heading into the break.
Fork Union opened the second half showing tremendous poise in the half-court set, utilizing sharp ball-reversal and effective screen-action to create excellent scoring opportunities in the paint and open jump shots from the perimeter. 6’6” forward Lee Skinner showcased a balanced offensive skill-set, scoring on a series of post isolation opportunities and knocking down multiple perimeter jumpers off down-screens. Canoy would cut the NMH lead to one, at 67-66, after converting an and-one bucket off a steal with just over 2:30 to play, before Cosby answered with a big three on the ensuing possession to push the lead back to four. NMH would convert at the free-throw line in the game’s final two minutes to eventually seal the 80-71 victory.
Cosby finished with 23 points and seven rebounds to lead NMH, with John Golden and Sharkey adding 12 and 10 respectively. Canoy led Fork Union with 22 points and seven steals, to go along a solid 12-point, eight-board performance from Lee.
Fishburne Military Academy (VA) 66 Notre Dame Prep (MA) 75
Game number two of the day would feature visiting Fishburne Military Academy against a Notre Dame Prep squad loaded with high-major talent. 6’3” guard Myles Davis led an up-tempo Notre Dame offense early, knocking down long-range jumpers from the behind arc and finishing through contact in transition. Pittsburgh commit Khem Birch, ESPN’s #2-ranked player in the country in the class of 2012, complimented Davis with a dominant effort on the interior, scoring on several put-backs and dunking over defenders with authority on multiple occasions. Birch also impressed with a series of face-up moves from 8-10 feet, while being a constant force on the glass and tracking down multiple loose balls to give his team extra possessions on offense.
After trailing 42-27 at the break, Fishburne would come out of the locker room reenergized in the second half, showing an improved willingness to match-up defensively with Notre Dame’s size and physicality inside. Back-to-back threes from Appalachian State commit Tab Hamilton would cut the lead to three, at 50-47, with just over 13 minutes left to play, before a transition dunk and an and-one lay-in by Birch would quiet the run and push the lead to eight with nine minutes remaining. Fork Union would cut the lead to five, at 69-64, with just over a minute to play after a pair of threes from K.C. Whitaker and Justin Burrell (12 points), before Birch would answer yet again with a dunk and lay-in on back-to-back possessions to put the game out of reach. The Big East-bound big finished with a double-double performance of 20 points and 10 boards on 9-11 shooting, with Davis adding 19 and Louisville commit Angel Nunez contributing 10 with a combination of threes and dazzling, above-the-rim finishes in transition. Whitaker led all scorers with 24 points and five threes, while Hamilton added 18 on four of five shooting from distance.
Westwind Prep International (AZ) 84 Bridgton Academy (ME) 78
In a match-up between cross-country programs Westwind Prep out of Arizona and perennial, NEPSAC power Bridgton, the game’s opening minutes were highlighted by two teams looking to get up-and-down the floor and shoot the ball from three. Bridgton’s Kareem Canty was excellent in transition from the tip, consistently pushing the pace with a purpose to find teammates for high-percentage shots or finish acrobatically at the rim. Westwind’s Kiwi Gardner was equally impressive pushing the ball in transition off missed or made baskets, as the 5’7” lead guard flashed sensational end-to-end speed resulting in a series of mid-range pull-ups and pin-point passes to teammates running to the rim or spotting up for open shots. Behind strong scoring from Utah-bound George Matthews (15 points) and UC-Santa Barbara recruit John Green, Westwind would take a 45-38 edge into halftime.
Purdue-bound forward Donnie Hale started to go to work for Bridgton on the block in the second half, scoring on a variety of drop-step moves and jump-hooks over his right-shoulder. After Bridgton battled back to take the lead, at 57-56, with 10:50 left to play, Gardner would spark his team’s offense with a pair of deep, pull-up threes that would give Westwind a 66-60 advantage with seven minutes remaining. Canty would lead a late Bridgton comeback with his ability to penetrate and hit from the perimeter, but a series of late Westwind free-throws would eventually allow them to hang on for the 84-78 victory.
Green finished with a game-high 30 points for Westwind, to go along with 11 rebounds and four assists. Gardner followed with a strong 19-point, six-assist performance. Canty led Bridgton with 23 points, on three of four from three, with Hale contributing a solid double-double effort with 15 and 14 boards.
Hargrave Military Academy (VA) 115 South Kent (CT) 105
In a contest featuring a plethora of explosive, high-major talent on both rosters, Hargrave Military Academy squared off against South Kent in the most anticipated match-up of the day. With fellow ACC commits Marquis Rankin (Virginia Tech) and P.J. Hairston (North Carolina) leading the way, Hargrave consistently used its athleticism and pass-ahead mentality to beat South Kent up the floor for easy buckets in transition on its way to a 41-31 lead mid-way through the first half. With VA Tech commit Robert Brown and Hairston filling it up from behind the arc as well, the South Kent tandem of Ge-lawn Guyn (13 points) and Ricardo Ledo did their best to keep their team in the game through the first 20 minutes. The smooth, 6’6” Ledo, in particular, showed off his full offensive arsenal, hitting multiple floaters in the lane off penetration, finishing well above the rim in transition, and rising over a defender for an NBA-range three.
Building on a 62-53 halftime lead, Hargrave picked up right where it left off to open the second half, with Xavier recruit Dez Wells joining Hairston and Brown on the list of players South Kent was unable to keep out of the paint. After the lead had ballooned to as much as 17 with just over 12 minutes to play, South Kent drew within seven, at 94-87, behind a pair of threes from East Hartford’s Anthony Jernigan and Canton’s Andrew Crowley. Hairston would answer right back with a deep triple of his own from the right wing to push the lead back to double-figures. South Kent would continue to play tough in the closing minutes, cutting the deficit to as little as four several times, but Hargrave’s relentless perimeter attack from the likes of Rankin, Brown, Wells, and Hairston would eventually carry them to a 115-105 win.
Hairston finished with 29 points and six three-pointers to lead five Hargrave players in double-figures. Wells followed with 22 on 9-12 shooting, with Rankin and Brown adding 20 and 19 respectively. Ledo finished with a game-high 30 for South Kent, while St. John’s commit Maurice Harkless added 16 points and five boards.
Lee Academy (ME) 57 St. Thomas Moore (CT) 82
With fellow New England programs Lee Academy and St. Thomas Moore kicking off the evening action on day one, all eyes were initially fixed on St. Thomas Moore’s 6’11” center Andre Drummond, the consensus top-ranked big man in the country in the class of 2012. However, in a first half in which Drummond was relatively quiet, St. Thomas Moore relied on impressive three-point shooting from 6’6” wing Damion Lee and steady point-guard play from Maine-product Indiana faithful to take a 42-25 lead heading into halftime.
Drummond (eight points, four rebounds) would show flashes of brilliance in the second half, converting on an emphatic dunk off a lob in transition and capitalizing on solid low-post seals for two other powerful finishes. Drummond’s high-energy play was joined by impressive second-half performances from Lee and 6’4” wing Elijah Bonsignore, both of whom connected on multiple perimeter jumpers and showcased outstanding leaping ability with high-flying finishes in transition. With the game well in-hand with just over two minutes remaining, St. Thomas Moore forward Jarell Byrd put an exclamation point on the victory with a vicious two-hand, put-back dunk , a play in which Byrd streaked to the basket from the left wing to follow a teammate’s missed three-pointer from the right corner and ignite the local crowd in the process.
Lee led St. Thomas Moore with 19 points on seven of nine shooting and thee of five from three, with Byrd shooting a perfect five-for-five from the field for 12 points and six boards. Rodney Beldo, A.J. Perez Cortesia, and Keith Coleman all had 10 points for a Lee Academy team that shot just 32 percent from the floor and 29 percent from three.
Princeton Day Academy (MD) 67 Winchendon School (MA) 63
Game six of opening day featured two programs in Winchendon and Princeton Day that lacked much size or physicality up-front, but made up for it with plenty of speed and toughness on the perimeter.
Xavier Pollard and Corbin Moye were both solid for Winchendon in the early minutes, hitting open threes and showcasing strong handles that allowed them to penetrate to the hoop for scores. Also impressive for Winchendon was 2013 lead guard Dennis Green (eight points), who converted multiple buckets through contact in transition and demonstrated solid patience and understanding of getting his teammates involved in the half court set. Solid outside shooting from Princeton Day’s Kareem Storey and McCall Tomeny would keep the Winchendon lead to just four, at 32-28, heading into halftime.
The second half quickly saw Princeton Day battle back to tie the game and initiate a back and forth affair that featured consistent perimeter shot-making from both teams. Back-to-back threes from Josh Cameron would give Princeton Day a three-point lead, at 60-57, with just over four minutes remaining, and after a series of driving lay-ups from Storey and Winchendon’s Green, the spread would remain at three, at 66-63, would 30 seconds to play. Winchendon would have its chance to tie the game, but after failing to convert a clean look at a three off an underneath inbounds set, Princeton Day would seal the game with a late free-throw and go on to win 67-63.
Storey was dynamite driving the ball to the hoop and finishing for Princeton Day in the second half on his way to 11 points and four assists, while Donte Thomas led his team with 13 points on four of six shooting. Pollard paced Winchendon with 13 points and six boards, with Owen Tucker adding 11 on three of five shooting from beyond the arc.