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FORT MYERS, Fla. - The City of Palms Classic rolled through the quarter-finals to set up its final four heading into the weekend, but the real buzz on Thursday night was created by a couple of the nation's top big men in little known Rashanti Harris (No. 97 ranked senior) and former top rated Greg Monroe (No. 2 / Georgetown) - and they didn't disappoint.
City of Palms Day Two - December 20
Miami Monsignor Pace (Fla.) 72 - Gainesville (Fla.) 65
The day's opener featured two of the SunshineState's top squads in a little home-state bragging rights match-up.Gainesville jumped to an early lead behind 6-foot-2 Greg Gantt. who hit two three-pointers in route to 12 first quarter points as Gainesville built a 22-15 first quarter advantage over Monsignor Pace.
Pace switched to a match-up zone to take away the perimeter jumper and befuddled Gainesville to go on a 16-3 run to open the quarter.After a couple timeouts Gainesville finally made some adjustments to pull back to within six, 35-29, but allowed a tip at the buzzer by Pace's 6-foot-8 junior Raheem Buckles to go into the locker room down 37-29 to Monsignor Pace.
Pace was led by 6-foot-4 Ray Shipman (No. 76 / Florida) with 14 points.Gantt led all scorers for Gainesville with 16 at the intermission.
The third quarter opened with Monsignor Pace upping their lead to 10 points at 41-31 before Gainesville came roaring back behind Gantt, who scored 10 points as part of a 15-2 run that put the Hurricanes back on top, 46-43, with 1:27 to play in the third.Pace closed to within one, 47-46, at the end of the period.
The game of runs continued to start the fourth as Monsignor Pace opened the quarter with an 11-0 run to go up 57-46 with 6:23 to play.Gantt knocked down a deep three to stop the run and the wing from Gainesville wasn't done yet, as he scored two more buckets to ignite a run that closed the gap to two, 65-63, with two minutes to play.But, Shipman responded with a big bucket for Pace and the Spartans made four of five free throws down the stretch to hold on for a 72-65 victory.
Monsignor Pace was led by Ray Shipman with 20 points, while junior super Raheem Buckles chipped in with 16 points.Reggie Chambers added 15 points and 11 rebounds with Terrence Saintil (VCU) adding 12 points in the win. Gainesville's top gun was Greg Gantt with 32 points, including 8 of 9 from three.He got solid support from 6-foot-3 Anthony Nwadigo, who chipped in with 16 points.
American Heritage (Fla.) 63 - Fort Myers Bishop Verot (Fla.) 59
This opened up as the Kenny Boynton (No. 6 junior) show as he scored 14 of American Heritage's 17 points to lead them to a 17-14 first quarter advantage.The game remained close throughout the first half as 6-foot-3 Brennen Melvin kept pace for Bishop Verot, hitting three three-pointers to keep the Vikings close.His last triple came right before the buzzer to cut American Heritage's lead to 35-34 at the intermission.Boynton finished the half with 21 points for Heritage, while Melvin led Bishop Verot with 14 points.
American Heritage opened the third quarter with five quick points, but Bishop Verot came right back with an 8-0 run of their own to take a 54-40 lead with 4:35 to play in the quarter.But Boynton hit a long three to put Heritage back on top, 50-49, at the end of three periods.Boynton then opened the fourth quarter with another three to put his squad up 55-49.Bishop Verot called a time out with 6:30 to play to make some adjustments.The Vikings would score the next seven points to go up 56-55, until Boynton responded with two baskets and Raymond Taylor added two free throws to open up another five point bulge at 61-56 with 1:20 to play.Taylor knocked down four straight free throws to ice a 63-59 victory for American Heritage.
Heritage was led by Boynton, who finished with 35 points.He received key help in the second half from his backcourt mate Taylor, who added 16 points.Bishop Verot was led by Brennen Melvin with 17 points, while 6-foot-8 Ryan Schrotenboer added 14 points and pulled down 15 rebounds.
The nation's number one team looked like it, as they ran out to an early 13-2 advantage behind some stellar play by Samardo Samuels (No. 4 / Louisville) and 6-foot-8 Tristan Thompson (No.18 sophomore).Kinston bounced back behind two threes by another stellar sophomore of their own in 6-foot-6 Reggie Bullock to close the gap to 17-8 at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter kicked off with Kinston closing it to five, 17-12, on a goal-tending call on Samuels.But, that was as close as it would get in the first half as the size of St. Benedict's started to take its toll inside on the glass as they opened up a double digit lead, 36-22, at the intermission.St. Benedict's was led by Samuels with 11 points and 6 rebounds, while Kinston was led by Bullock who had nine points in the opening half.
The second half was all St. Benedict's as the Grey Bees stretched their lead to thirty-plus at 63-32 early in the fourth quarter to coast to a 72-44 victory over an athletic, but outmanned, Kinston squad.St. Benedict's was led by Samardo Samuels with 26 points and 10 rebounds.He received solid support from Tamir Jackson with 15 points and Greg Echenique who added 10 points.Kinston was led by Bullock with 16 points and Dallas Best who added 10 points in the loss.
Chicago Hales Franciscan (Ill.) 81 - Punta Gorda Charlotte (Fla.) 53
Hales Franciscan looked like they were over any weariness from traveling to Fort Myers this afternoon as they jumped out to an early 20-9 advantage behind 6-foot-6 Matt Humphrey (No. 71 / Oregon) and 5-foot-9 point D.J. Cooper.Charlotte made a run early in the second quarter to cut the Hales lead to five, 24-19, but that rally was short lived.Hales went on a 7-2 run to open it back up to double digits and coasted into the intermission with a 40-27 advantage over Charlotte.Hales was led in the opening half by Humphrey with 10 points and Cooper with nine points.They were equaled by 6-foot-3 Chris Stephenson (UNC-Asheville) and 6-foot-5 Dago Pena (Florida Atlantic), who had the same numbers at the break.
The second half was all Hales early as they stretched their lead to 63-32 in the third quarter, then traded buckets most of the rest of the way to record an 81-53 decision over Punta Gorda Charlotte.Hales Franciscan was led by Humphrey with 22 points while D.J. Cooper and Phillip Williams chipped in with 13 points each.Charlotte's dynamic duo of Stephenson and Pena ended the night with 17 and 13 points respectively.
Quarterfinal No. 2: New Orleans Helen Cox (La.) 75 - Columbus New Hope (Miss.) 62
There had been a lot of ballyhoo about the match-up between the two big men, 6-foot-11 Greg Monroe (No.2 / Georgetown) and last night's stat machine 6-foot-9 Rashanti Harris (No. 97), and it showed that both were aware of the expectations.
The first minute was a pre-cursor of what was to happen all night as Harris opened with a quick hoop, then Monroe, as he was to do for most of the night, scored six of the next eight points to give his club an early 10-6 advantage.New Hope's Dale Hughes hit two threes and a lay-in to knot it at 14-all with 2:30 to play in the first quarter.But, Helen Cox called a timeout and ratcheted up the "D" and handed out a healthy serving of Monroe as he finished the quarter like he started, scoring six points to lead a 10-1 run to close the first stanza with Helen Cox up 24-15 over New Hope.
The second quarter started with Hughes leading a New Hope charge to knot it at 26-all, as the 6-foot-2 wing man scored six points in an 11-2 run.But, as happened in the first period, Monroe and his teammates ended the quarter on an 8-0 run to head to the locker room with a 34-26 lead over New Hope.
Monroe ended the half with 12 points, five rebounds, and three blocks, while Taj Givens chipped in with 10 points. New Hope's Hughes had 13 points and Harris added six points.
The second half opened with Monroe dominating the early going scoring eight points as part of a 13-5 run to open the third quarter and put his Helen Cox club up 47-31 midway through.They maintained that lead until the final 90-seconds of the quarter, when Harris led a late charge to cut it to 56-44 entering the final period.
New Hope chipped away at the Helen Cox lead behind eight points by Harris to cut the deficit to five, 63-58, with 3:35 to play.
Then, as sometimes happens, New Hope tried to give Harris a quick blow and it proved costly. Helen Cox scored six quick points in 35 seconds to open up a 69-58 advantage before Harris could get back into the game with 2:15 to play.After that, New Hope couldn't mount much of a challenge as Helen Cox held on for a hard fought 75-62 victory.
It was a monumental battle in the paint, reminiscent of a Dwight Howard (Monroe) vs Ben Wallace (Harris) match-up.Both had some stellar moments while Monroe had a slight edge in our eyes, playing like the top five prospect we expect to see when he hits the floor.He finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds playing hard all four quarters.But Harris, for the second night in a row, looked and played like a McDonald's All-American as well, and will move into the elite in the class in our next rankings.He finished with 28 points and 12 boards, but really impressed us with his ability to get better as the game progressed.It was a classic match-up of high school and future pro big men.
In support of Monroe, Taj Givens added 20 points including a number of key baskets down the stretch.Harris relied on Dale Hughes to create space on the perimeter and he delivered with 18 points, while 6-foot-2 Ray Knight added 11 points. It was a great quarterfinal match-up.
But for Monroe, the road to the final isn't going to get easier as he will be matching up in the semi-finals versus St. Benedict's against Samardo Samuels in another potential classic battle of top five prospects.
This match-up features two of the scrappiest squads in Fort Myers as a nationally ranked talented Chester takes on the shooters from GeorgetownScottCounty.
Chester opened the game with a flurry, using their quickness to a 9-3 advantage on two steals with conversions by 6-foot-6 Nasir Robinson (No. 72/ Pittsburgh) and 6-foot-6 Rahlir Jefferson.They extended the lead to 15-8 with 1:44 to play in the first quarter.But, ScottCounty bounced back out of a timeout behind back-to-back buckets by 6-foot-5 Tyler Portwood, closing Chester's lead to 18-15 at the quarter's end.
The second quarter was all ScottCounty as they controlled the tempo and used an inside-out game from Portwood and 6-foot-7 Jordan Lee to open up a seven point advantage, 30-23, over Chester.But Karon Burton led Chester on a late charge to cut it to four at 31-27 at the break.ScottCounty's Portwood led the way in the opening half with eight points, while Robinson led Chester with seven points at the intermission.
The second half started quickly for Chester as Jefferson and Robinson led a third quarter charge that opened up a nine point lead at 50-41 with just over a minute to play in the period.Chad Allen hit a three at the buzzer to give ScottCounty some life heading into the final period, but Chester went on a 13-5 run to open up a 63-49 lead that proved to be insurmountable as both clubs exchanged baskets throughout the rest of the half.
Chester's top gun was Nasir Robinson, who finished with 26 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.He got solid support from Karon Burton, who finished with 22 points and handed out nine assists.Rahlir Jefferson added a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.6-foot-6 Russell Johnson was tough on the glass with 14 rebounds.ScottCounty's trio of Portwood, Lee, and Hundley finished with 15, 14, and 13 points respectively.
The night cap featured an East vs. West flair as Holy Cross represents the Big Apple and Taft stands up for the PacificCoast.It started late (around 11 pm) and both clubs struggled from the floor.Behind 6-foot-5 Sylven Landesberg (No. 37 /Virginia), Holy Cross got it going late in the opening period to come from three down to take a 14-11 lead at the end of the quarter.In the second period, they built their lead to 10, 28-18, before Larry Drew (No. 58 / North Carolina) teamed with 6-foot-4 junior Justin Hawkins (UNLV) to bring Taft back to cut the deficit in half, 29-24, at the intermission.Landesberg led all scorers with 15 points, while 6-foot-4 Terran Carter was Taft's top gun with 10 points in the opening half.
The second half was close throughout the third quarter as Taft held a one point lead, 41-40, when 6-foot-5 Eugene Phelps knocked down a three-pointer at the buzzer to give them their biggest lead, 44-40, at the end of the third.But that lead was short lived, as Landesberg took over for Holy Cross by scoring seven points in a 15-7 run to put his squad up 55-51 with 2:11 to play.Taft came out of the timeout in a press, but Holy Cross held onto the ball and won a 66-59 decision.
Holy Cross was led by Sylven Landesberg with a game high 29 points and eight rebounds.He received solid support from Blaise French with 13 points and Kayvon Roberts, who chipped in with 10 points.Taft was led by Larry Drew with 16 points, while Terran Carter and Eugene Phelps added 14 and 11 respectively.