Spalding Hoophall Classic Event Recap
There was such an exceptional amount of talent on the docket for Sunday’s action that it was deemed the “Future Stars Invitational” component of the Classic. The action tipped off as the Winchendon School competed against Harmony Community from Ohio. Winchendon, who was coming off of a hard fought victory over Laurinburg at the Big Apple High School Basketball Classic a day earlier, struggled from the onset. Against the hard nosed Harmony defense Winchendon was only able to shoot 27% from the floor and hand out 10 assists against 22 turnovers. The Harmony offense was extremely balanced as six different players scored at least 8 points with no one finishing with more than 12 on their way to a 66-43 victory. One of the few bright spots for the Green Wave was the play of 6’6 sophomore swingman Jamal Coombs. Coombs who has added a significant amount of muscle to his frame since arriving at Winchendon this fall was the lone double figure scorer with 10 points on 4-8 shooting from the floor. Look for Winchendon to bounce back strong when they square off against Worcester Academy on Wednesday.
The second game of the day featured two of the top ten prep school teams in the country as Northfield Mount Hermon took on Hargrave Military Academy. After a fairly close first 15 minutes, Hargrave was able to go on a late first half run to extend their lead at halftime to more than 20 points. But NMH didn’t quit and chipped away during the second half and was able to cut the deficit to as few as 4 points late in the second half. To Hargrave’s credit they were able to withstand the run and eventually pull away for a 99-82 victory. The offensive attack was extremely well balanced for both teams as they both had five players score in double figures. NMH was led by Gary Correia who finished with 19 points on 7 of 10 shooting from the floor and 5 of 6 shooting from behind the three-point line. LaSalle bound forward Terrell Williams won the team’s MVP award scoring 18 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and handing out 4 assists. Also scoring in double figures was future Notre Dame forward Tyrone Nash with 14, Terrell’s twin brother Jerrell Williams who finished with 13 and is also headed to LaSalle, and RJ Rutledge with 11. The performances were particularly important for Correia and Rutledge because they are both unsigned seniors who impressed the numerous college coaches who were on hand today. In addition to shooting the ball extremely well, Correia ran the team and showed his versatility by breaking his man down off the dribble at times as well. Rutledge showed great size and length for a two guard, a good shooting stroke from behind the three-point line knocking down three different attempts from long range, and also finished with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 0 turnovers.
The third game of the day may have marked the best individual match-up as St. John’s and guard Chris Wright went up against Rakim Sanders and St. Andrew’s. Sanders, who is head to Boston College next year, put on a show in the first half scoring 22 points and 36 on the night, knocking down three-pointers, hitting mid-range pull-ups off the dribble, and getting all the way to the rim and finishing. But Wright, who is headed to Georgetown next year, was able to match his effort as he scored 39 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, had 5 assists, and 0 turnovers. Also impressive for St. Andrew’s was 5’10 guard Joe Accaoui who finished with 21 points including 5 of 11 shooting from behind the three-point line. Ultimately, St. John’s was able to win a very hard fought 85-81 victory despite a valiant St. Andrew’s run to close the game including some late game heroics by Sanders and Accaoui.
The final game of the day matched the 2nd and 3rd ranked prep school teams in the country in the Patterson School and Notre Dame Prep respectively. And this game lived up to the hype as it went back and forth throughout the 32 minutes of action and included an action packed final minute of play. Notre Dame was able to lead throughout most of the game but found themselves down 69-68 when Head Coach Bill Barton called a time-out to diagram what many anticipated would be the last shot of the game with less than 30 seconds remaining. But very quickly into the possession 6’4 shooting guard Sedale Jones drove along the baseline and went up with a runner as an opposing shot blocker also elevated. Jones was able to hang in the air until the defender fell back to the floor before releasing his shot that banked in to give Notre Dame a 70-69 lead. But without calling a timeout Patterson quickly in-bounded the ball and pushed it up the floor. The Patterson guard penetrated directly into the lane where he was able to score giving Patterson a 71-70 lead with 8.5 seconds remaining in the game. Notre Dame also chose not to take a time-out and quickly passed the ball up the floor to Deonte Roberts who drove to the basket and threw up a runner that came off the glass too hard. Roberts was able to get his own rebound over the massive Patterson front line and then showed outstanding composure by collecting himself and using a quick shot fake to throw off his defender before elevating and releasing the ball just before the horn sounded. The ball hit the backboard and then rolled across the side of the rim, giving the fans an added bit of excitement, before spinning in to give Notre Dame a 72-71 win. The win was a huge one for Notre Dame and is sure to elevate them back into the top 2 Prep programs in the country, joining fellow New England program Bridgton Academy, once the rankings are released.
Also in action on Sunday was Ss. Neumann-Maria Goretti who took on the storied DeMatha High School program in a game that featured the Syracuse bound duo of Antonio Jardine and Rich Jackson for Neumann Goretti, and Austin Freeman and Jerai Grant for DeMatha who are headed to Georgetown and Clemson respectively. A heated battle between Towson Catholic High School and St. Benedict’s Prep was next. Towson featured Malcolm Delaney who is committed to Virginia Tech and Donte Green who is one of the top 10 players in the country and on his way to Syracuse while St. Benedict’s was led by Samardo Samuels and future Villanova Wildcat Corey Stokes.
A day earlier, the boy’s division had their first full day of action featuring many schools from the Springfield and great New England area. Alex Berthiaume led his Cathedral High School team to a 69-63 win over Holy Name High School. Berthiaume played a very well rounded game scoring 24 points, shooting 11 of 12 from the free-throw line, grabbing 3 rebounds, 2 steals, and 8 assists against only 3 turnovers. Holy Name, who played without their star guard Dominique Price, was led by Assumption bound swingman Mike Baldarelli who finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds. Also impressive were Tyrell Evans who scored 17 points and handed out 4 assists for Cathedral and Ryan Brown who scored 19 points for Holy Name despite making just 7 of his 23 field goal attempts.
In the second game of the day Lynn English High School was able to defeat Springfield Central High School 67-60. Lynn English was led by Bryan Bingham who scored 22 points and secured 6 rebounds including 5 on the offensive end and Jairo Valdez who scored 15 points on 7 of 9 shooting from the floor in addition to 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Victor Del Rosario was impressive in a losing effort scoring 20 points and dishing out 4 assists. In the next game, Holyoke High School was able to hold off Deering High School 63-53 in order to maintain their undefeated record. Four players scored in double figures for Holyoke including Nate Pollard, Juan Valentin, Guillermo Zayas, and David Zeija. Kyle Donovan led Deering with 18 points and 6 rebounds.
In what was the most exciting game of the day Hillhouse High School arrived with a massive fan section and an enthusiastic school band to ignite the crowd for their match-up against Arizona bound swingman Jerryd Bayless and St. Mary’s High School of Phoenix. Bayless may have scored 27 points and pulled down 7 boards but he struggled at times shooting just 6-18 from the floor and turning the ball over 7 times. Instead the best player on the floor for this game was Hillhouse’s 6’5 shooting guard Mike Moore who scored 28 points on 14-23 shooting from the floor, pulled down 9 rebounds including 5 offensive, handed out 4 assists, and also earned 4 steals. Ultimately, Hillhouse was able to hold off St. Mary’s 63-60 for a tremendous victory that shows they can compete with some of the nation’s best.
In the final game of the day New York’s Bishop Loughlin was able to hold off the High School of Commerce 66-62 despite a valiant effort from the Cruz brothers. Janzy Cruz did a nice job of running the team, handing out 11 assists while his brother Jensen was not bashful launching 28 shots from the field and knocking down 7 of 19 shots from the three-point line.
The Hoophall Classic will continue for its final day of action on Monday. The first game will tip off at noon when St. Patrick High School of New Jersey squares off against Fairfax High School from California. At 1:30 St. Anthony High School of New Jersey takes on Bellaire High School of Texas followed by Mount Vernon High School of New York against Norcross High School of Georgia at 3:00. The final three games of the day feature local teams as South Hadley faces Holyoke at 4:30, Sabis Charter meets New Leadership Charter at 6:00, and Springfiel Central squares off against High School of Commerce at 7:30.