Hoop Hall Classic

Deep talent field has Brandon Jennings (Arizona) and Courtney Fortson (Arkansas) shine in close wins

Jan. 21, 2008

By Van Coleman

CSTV.com & Hoopmasters.com


Van Coleman

Van is one of the nation's premier recruiting experts.
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The early action was a little shaky, but the action really started to heat up as the day went on as The Patterson School and Oak Hill Academy survived upset scares.  In other action Brewster, Benedictine, Hargrave Military and St. Benedict's dominated their games at the Hoop Hall.


Brewster Academy (N.H.) 111 - China/USBA Team 47




The opener was over early as Brewster pressured a young Team China squad to open up a 40-8 advantage, and then cruised the rest of the way to win a 111-47 victory over the Chinese squad.  The top offensive gun early was Mark Lyons (Xavier) who dominated with the dribble and pass for 23 points and four assists in just 18 minutes of action.


Brewster was led in scoring by 6-foot-3 Chauncey Gilliam who came off the bench to score 24 points, the most impressive basket coming on a windmill dunk that had the crowd on its feet.  He got solid support from Lyons, along with sweet shooting junior 6-foot-5 Givon Crump who had 17 points (including five three-pointers) and 6-foot-3 Trey Blue who chipped in with 15 points.


Team China was led by 6-foot-3 Pan Zhi Yuan with 15 points.  He was their top back court talent.  But, 6-foot-8 Su Ruo Yu was by far their top talent.  The rail thin big man has range on his jumper and can take it to hoop off the dribble.  He had nine points and six boards in the loss. He has tools to help at the mid-DI levels.  He and his running mates up front 6-foot-9 Li Fan and 6-foot-8 Wang Zhen just didn't see the ball enough as the Chinese guards struggled as the team totaled 43 turnovers versus Brewster.


Benedictine High School (Va.) 68 - St. George School (Tenn.) 49


With Elliott Williams (No. 16 / Duke) out with a knee sprain, St. George's wasn't able to muster any offense early, as Benedictine led 25-0 at the end of the first quarter before 6-foot-7 Laurence Bowers (Missouri) made the first basket for St. George's.  It was 42-16 at the half as Benedictine cleared the bench in the second half to go on to a 68-49 victory over St, George's.


Benedictine was led by 6-foot-9 Ed Davis (No.6 / North Carolina) who finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks in just 22 minutes of action.  He received solid support from 6-foot-6 Bradford Burgess (VCU) who chipped in 14 points and 10 boards in just three quarters of action.  St. George's top gun was Bowers who finished with 18 points and 15 boards, while 6-foot-4 Bobby Parks Jr. had 11 points in the loss.


The Patterson School (N.C.) 68 - Winchendon School (Mass.) 67


Winchendon jumped out to an early lead behind the early play of 6-foot-6 Larry Anderson and 6-foot-1 Anthony Raffa to build a 16-7 lead.  Courtney Fortson (No. 44 / Arkansas) kept Patterson within striking distance scoring the first seven for them.  After a timeout with 8:52 to play Patterson seemed to start to right the ship as they slowly chipped away at the Winchendon lead behind Fortson and his 6-foot-2 back court-mate Varez Ward to cut the lead to five at 40-35 with 2:30 to play in the half.  Winchendon called a timeout, but it was Fortson and Ward who combined for the final five points of the punctuated by a Fortson to Ward alley-oop that left the crowd buzzing at the half with the game knotted at 40-all.  Fortson and Ward led Patterson into the locker room with 13 and 11 points respectively.  Winchendon was led by Larry Anderson with 12 points in the opening half of play.


The second half started with a quick 12-3 burst by Patterson that put them up 52-43 with 16:12 to play in the game as Courtney Fortson scored 6 points and had two assists in the run.  Patterson held on to a nine point lead 65-56 with just under six minutes to play, but Winchendon wasn't done as the Green Wave came roaring back to tie it at 65-all with three minutes to play as 7-foot-2 John Riek (No. 11) scored four points and blocked two key shots.  But, it came down to a steal by Patterson that turned into a Varez Ward Bucket that put Patterson up 68-67 with 58 seconds to play.  Winchendon missed a couple late shots as Patterson remained unbeaten at 23-0 in Springfield.


Patterson was led by Courtney Fortson who finished with 21 points and six assists. He was the catalyst to their second half comeback.  Varez Ward only scored two second half points, the game winners, and finished with 13 points.  Six-foot-10 big man Freddy Asprilla added nine points and eight rebounds.  Winchendon was led by Larry Anderson who had a game high 24 points and seven rebounds.  He received solid support from John Riek with 14 points and 11 rebounds.  Anthony Raffa added 10 points and six assists in the tough loss for Winchendon.


Oak Hill Academy (Va.) 73 - Mount St. Joseph High School (Md.) 70


This one was close throughout as it was tied at the end of the first quarter at 12-all as Oak Hill and Mt. St. Joseph set the tone for a real barnburner.  It was still tied at 23-all with four minutes to play in the second quarter when Oak Hill went on an 8-2 run behind two buckets by 6-foot-2 Byron Allen and Brandon Jennings (No.1 / Arizona) to open up a 31-25 advantage.  But Mt. St. Joseph used a bucket by 6-foot-10 Henry Sims (No. 61 / Georgetown) and a three by 6-foot-2 sophomore Eric Atkins pull back to with one 33-32 at the half.  Oak Hill was led by Jennings with 14 points, while Sims led Mt. St. Joseph's with 12 points in the first stanza.


The second half looked like Oak Hill might run away and hide as the Warriors built a 47-38 advantage behind Jennings and 6-foot-8 junior Glenn Bryant.  It was 49-41 with 2:15 to play in the third when Mt. St. Joseph started a Sims run, as the big man scored eight straight points to tie it at 49-all with  58-seconds to play in the quarter.  The two clubs exchanged buckets down the stretch to end the period knotted at 53-all.  The fourth quarter was a see-saw affair as each team held three point leads.  It was 67-64 with 3:13 to play in the contest after free throws by Jennings.  Henry Sims hit a runner in the lane to cut the Oak hill lead to 67-66 2:33 to play.  Eric Atkins hit a runner to tie it at 69-all.  Oak Hill came right back with Bryant dunking it off a feed by Jennings to go back in the lead 71-69.  6-foot-7 Chris Olsen missed the first of two free throws with 40-seconds to play then hit the second to pull within one at 71-70.  Oak Hill ran the clock down, but Jennings missed a floater that went out of bounds. It looked like Mt. St. Joseph would get one last shot at the upset.  But, as sometimes happens, great players make great plays, and on the inbounds, Jennings did just that picking Eric Atkins and quickly making a lay-in with just four seconds on the clock to ice the 73-70 victory.


Oak Hill was led by Jennings who finished with 32 points in the win.  He received solid support from Glenn Bryant who added 14 points, while Keith Gallon (No. 27 junior) added 10 points in the hard fought win.  Mt. St. Joseph was led by the impressive performance of Henry Sims who finished with 32 points and 10 rebounds.  He was just too quick for the Oak Hill big men inside.  He got solid support from Eric Atkins who finished with 18 points in the loss.


St. Benedict's (N.J.) 75 - DeMatha Catholic High School (Md.) 41


This one was over early as St. Benedict's ran out to a 23-11 first quarter lead behind their inside duo of 6-foot-9 bookends Samardo Samuels (No. 2 / Louisville) and Greg Echenique (No. 35 junior) who combined for 12 points (six each) in the opening stanza.  The second quarter was all the Gray bees as they ran away to a 41-19 halftime advantage.  DeMatha never made a serious run at St. Benedict's in the second half, as the Grey Bees coasted to a 75-41 victory over the young Stags squad.


St. Benedict's was led by Samardo Samuels, as the "Big Smooth" finished with 22 points, on 8-10 shooting from the field, and seven rebounds.  He received solid support from 6-foot-2 junior Tamir Jackson (No. 98 junior) who finished with 20 points and Greg Echenique who chipped in with 12 points.  DeMatha's top gun was 6-foot-2 Mark Rouse who finished with 10 points, while 6-foot-4 Kenny Tate added nine points in the loss.


Hargrave Military Academy (Va.) 90 - South Kent School (Conn.) 68


This prep school match-up was close early as Hargrave and South Kent were knotted at 19-all with 9:50 to play in the opening half of play, but the roof was about to cave in on South Kent as 6-foot-2 Dee Bost (Mississippi State), 6-foot-1 Damier Pitts (Marshall), and 6-foot-10 Roscoe Davis (No. 81 / West Virginia) led a 22-7 run for Hargrave over the last seven minutes, combining for 14 points, to go into the locker room up 41-26 at the intermission.


The second half was all Patterson as they built the lead to twenty-five points, 69-44, with ten minutes to play.  South Kent cut the margin to seventeen on a couple occasions, but couldn't get a serious run going as Hargrave went on to a 90-68 win in the clash of prep school powers.  Hargrave was led by Damier Pitts with 22 points and 10 assists, while Dee Bost finished with 21 points including five three-.  They received solid support from 6-foot-3 Dexter Moore with 15 points and 6-foot-7 Eladio Espinosa who chipped in with 10 points and 10 rebounds in the win.  South Kent's top gun was 5-foot-8 Isaiah Thomas (No. 90 / Washington) who had 18 points and six assists, while 6-foot-5 junior Maurice Creek added 16 points in the loss.


Faces in the Crowd:  Head Coaches in to look at the talent in Springfield included John Calipari (Memphis); Gary Williams (Maryland); Lorenzo Romar (Washington); Jim Baron (Rhode Island) along with assistants from Xavier, Duquesne, La Salle, Bradley, Marist, Providence, and Marquette.


We will bring you Monday's action including three quality match-ups involving three highly ranked squads in Jersey City St. Anthony's (N.J.), San Jose Archbishop Mitty (Calif.), and Bronx St. Raymond's (N.Y.).  Then after we return home Tuesday we will take a look at the top prospects at the Spalding Hoop Hall Classic.  Stay tuned for that coverage, right here at "Generation Next".