By Van Coleman
CSTV.com & Hoopmasters.com
Van is one of the nation's premier recruiting experts.
FORT MYERS, Fla. - The City of Palms Classic kicks off our Holiday Tournament season coverage and today's opening round featured a couple games that went to the wire in the early action, but the night caps were both blow-outs.
Samardo Samuels (No. 4 ranked senior / Louisville) led the parade of stars in Fort Myers with an excellent performance in day one's final game, scoring 23 points and pulling down six rebounds in just 19 minutes of action. He definitely made up for a less than stellar performance by Greg Monroe (No. 2 / Georgetown) in the opener.
City of Palms Classic Day One - December 18
New Orleans Helen Cox (La.) 53 - Baltimore John Carroll (Md.) 41
The opener was just that as both teams seemed to be feeling their way through the first half of the game. Helen Cox broke out to a quick 6-2 lead as 6-foot-10 Greg Monroe scored their first six points. John Carroll bounced right back behind 6-foot-8 junior Isaiah Philmore and 6-foot-8 Josh Wiegand to go up 11-10 with 1:09 to play in the first stanza. But, 6-foot-8 Taj Givens knocked down a three at the buzzer to put Helen Cox up 13-11 at the end of one.
The second quarter started out all Helen Cox as they opened up with a quick 7-2 run to establish a 20-13 lead that they maintained to the intermission, ending the half with a 24-17 lead over John Carroll. Givens led Cox with 10 points, while Monroe added six points. Philmore was John Carroll's top gun with eight points in the opening half of play.
The third quarter opened with a 7-2 Helen Cox run headed by Givens and 6-foot-3 Justin Fairman, who had four points, to open a 31-19 lead with 2:50 remaining in the third quarter. But, John Carroll came roaring back behind the play of Isaiah Fillmore to pull within three at 31-28 before Cox's Fairman hit a short jumper to end the quarter with Helen Cox in the lead, 33-28.
The fourth quarter again started with a Helen Cox run as the Cougars went on an 8-0 run to open up a 41-28 lead. It was a lead that was never challenged the rest of the way as Cox hit six of their last eight free throws to win a 53-41 decision in the opener Tuesday afternoon in Fort Myers.
Helen Cox was led by Taj Givens with 17 points while Justin Fairman and Howard signee Calvin Thompson who added nine points. Greg Monroe was definitely out of sync in this one, finishing with seven points and six boards while being in foul trouble most of the game, but his teammates stepped up to bail him out and move forward in the winner's bracket in round one.
John Carroll was led by junior combo forward Isaiah Philmore, who finished with 18 points and eight boards. He got solid support in the second half from Wyatt Smith, who finished nine points in the game.
Georgetown Scott County (Ky.) 43 - Fort Myers Dunbar (Fla.) 41
This one may have been over before it started as Scott County went a 17-2 run to open the game behind the outside shooting of 6-foot-5 Tyler Portwood and 6-foot-4 Cameron Hundley. They cruised into halftime up by a 24-7 margin over an athletic, but outmanned Dunbar squad. Scott County was led by Portwood with 12 points, while Hundley added six points in the first stanza.
Dunbar, who only made three of their 20 shots in the first half, wasn't done as they opened the second half on an 18-5 run to close to within four, 29-25, with 1:14 to play in the third. They were led from the outside by the German boys, 6-foot-3 Melvin and 5-foot-10 Joel, and 6-foot-6 sophomore Jeffrey Evans to take their first lead at 37-36 on an Evans baseline jumper with 2:53 left in the game. Scott County was ice cold and had blown a 17-point lead to the athletic Florida squad.
Dunbar built their lead to four at 40-36 when Scott County re-inserted 6-foot-7 Richie Phares, and he promptly responded with three points and two big boards to close the gap to 40-39 with 2:23 to play.
Dunbar missed a couple key free throws, then 6-foot-2 sub Markus Burchwood knocked down two free throws to tie it at 41-all. Dunbar then turned it over on a travel call with 6.8 seconds left to set up the last second heroics of 6-foot-2 sophomore Ge-Lawn Guyn. The underclassman drove to the hoop to hit the finger roll at the buzzer, his only bucket of the game, to give Scott County the 43-41 win.
Scott County was led by Tyler Portwood with 15 points, while Cameron Hundley chipped in 13 points for the winners. Phares only had five points, but came up big with 10 rebounds. Dunbar's top guns were Jeffrey Evans, Melvin German, and David Paulk, who all finished with nine points. Evans also added 10 rebounds in the loss.
Fort Myers (Fla.) 69 - Arcadia DeSoto County (Fla.) 59 OT
The first of the Sunshine Series games was close from the opening tip. DeSoto and Fort Myers were tied at nine-all when DeSoto jumped to a 15-10 lead behind buckets by 6-foot-2 Jumaane Robinson and 6-foot-6 Tavarus Dennis Fort Myers took a quick timeout then rallied to tie it 15-15 at the end of the quarter on a bucket by 6-foot-3 Jean Louisme.
In the second quarter, DeSoto once again forged ahead 23-17 behind six points by Dennis. But like in the first quarter, Fort Myers came back to take a 25-23 lead, led by Louisme and 6-foot-11 Josh Nicholas. But, DeSoto came right back with Dennis and Shavon Shine converting buckets to go into the locker room up 28-27 over Fort Myers.
DeSoto was led by Dennis with 10 points and Shavon Shine with seven points. Fort Myers' top scorer was Evin Graham with nine points and Jean Louisme who added eight points in the opening stanza.
The second half saw DeSoto break out to a six point lead, 38-32, midway through the third quarter behind two three-pointers by Shine. They held that lead to the end of the stanza heading into the fourth quarter up 44-38.
But, Fort Myers chipped away at the lead as they tied it at 50-all with 4:16 to play on Louisme's two free throws. Each ball club traded buckets after timeouts to tie it at 58 with 36-seconds to play. Fort Myers had the first chance to win in regulation, but 6-foot-4 freshman Matt Yance missed a one-and-one, then Shine missed an open three to send it to overtime for DeSoto.
In the extra period, 6-foot-1 wing man David Westbury tipped in a huge bucket to put Fort Myers up by four at 62-58 early in the period. Yance redeemed himself with two free throws to extend the lead to 64-59 with 56 seconds to play. Westbury hit two free throws to extend the lead to 67-59 with 35 seconds left, as Fort Myers held on to open the Sunshine Series.
Fort Myers was led by David Westbury with 21 points and Jean Louisme, who added 19 points and 8 rebounds. Matt Yance added 10 points off the bench. DeSoto's top gun was Shavon Shine, who finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Tavarus Dennis chipped in with 13 points and eight boards, while Jumaane Robinson added 10 points in the hard fought loss.
Chester (Pa.) 66 - Fort Myers Bishop Verot (Fla.) 41
The home squad from Bishop Verot ran into a buzz-saw early as Chester jumped out to a quick 11-0 lead. 6-foot Kevin Green-Germany hit two three-pointers to highlight the run that lasted until 6-foot-8 Eddie Murray slammed an oop pass home for Bishop Verot with 18-seconds left in the first quarter. Chester continued to slowly open the lead to double digits and went to the locker room up 26-15 over Bishop Verot. Chester was led by Green-Germany with nine first half points.
The second half opened with a 6-0 run by Chester to extend their lead to 32-15 just two minutes into the third quarter. But, Bishop Verot didn't roll over and came back with a 9-2 run of their own to cut the lead to just nine points at 34-25 with just under two minutes to play in the quarter. Both teams exchanged buckets before 5-foot-11 Karon Burton put Chester back up by double digits, 38-27, at the end of three.
In the fourth quarter, Chester took over the backboards as Robinson dominated inside and Green-Germany and Burton knocked down key jumpers to open up a 52-34 lead with four minutes to play. Out of a timeout, Chester got four quick points from 6-foot-6 Nasir Robinson (No. 73 / Pittsburgh) to extend the lead to 54-32. Bishop Verot never challenged after that as Chester won this one going away by a 66-41 margin.
Newark St. Benedict's (N.J.) 87 - Gainesville (Fla.) 32
This one was over early in the second quarter as St. Benedict's, arguably the nation's top ranked team, went on a 24-7 run to head into the locker room up 41-19 at the break. The Gray Bees were led by 6-foot-2 Mike Machado with 12 points, while 6-foot-9 Samardo Samuels, 6-foot-1 Tamir Jackson (2009 No. 98), and 6-foot-9 Gregory Echenique (2009 No. 35) added 11, 11, and 10 points respectively.
In the second half, St. Benedict's built their lead to 42 points, 69-27, before Coach Danny Hurley called off the dogs and let his bench enjoy the fourth quarter. The Gray Bees rolled to an 87-32 victory over an outmanned Gainesville, Fla. Squad.
St. Benedict's leading scorer was Samuels with 23 points. Echenique added 16 points and 12 boards before leaving the game. Machado and Jackson added 14 and 11 points in the win. The top scorers for Gainesville was 6-foot-2 Greg Gantt and 5-foot-10 Taylor Simmons, who finished with eight points each.
This week we will be covering all the action at the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla. I will be in attendance on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, while Hoopmasters' Patrick Stanwood will be sending us coverage of the last two days at Bishop Verot High. The event features 22-teams from across the USA. We hope you enjoy this kick-off to our Holiday Tournament Coverage.