City of Palms - Championships Report

Samardo Samuels named Tournament MVP, Kenny Boynton scores event record 61 points

Dec. 23, 2007

By Van Coleman &


Van Coleman

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FORT MYERS, Fla. - The City of Palms Classic finally has a champion from New Jersey after having a team from the Garden State make the Championship game on four other occasions.


Tournament MVP Samardo Samuels (No. 4 / Louisville) led Newark St. Benedict's to the title. Samuels has played his way into consideration for the nation's top player spot along with Brandon Jennings (No. 1 / Arizona), Jrue Holiday (No. 6 / UCLA) and Tyreke Evans (No. 3 - nation's top unsigned player).




It was a day of great individual performances as well, starting with a record-breaking output.


Kenny Boynton (No. 6 junior) went off for 61 points in the final day's opener versus Fort Myers Dunbar, shattering the old tournament scoring record of 56 points in a game held by Teddy Dupay (Florida).  Boynton led Plantation American Heritage (Fla.) to an 88-71 victory over Dunbar. The high-scoring offensive talent hit 22 of 33 shots for the day, including an amazing 11 of 18 from beyond the arc.


That was just the beginning of an excellent final day in Fort Myers. 


Consolation Bracket Championship: Chicago Hales Franciscan (Ill.) 63 - Miami Monsignor Pace (Fla.) 54


Even though the tournament started a little rocky for Hales Franciscan with a late-night loss on the opening day to Scott County (Ky.), it finished just as Head Coach Gary London felt it would on Wednesday, with three straight wins.


"We can't worry about last night [opening loss to Scott County]," Coach London said earlier. "We've got three games to play and have our eyes on the Consolation championship. The kids came here to get our game together and we plan on winning from here on out."


And his squad did just that, as they rolled to the Consolation Championship with a 63-54 victory over a talented and deep Monsignor Pace squad. It was definitely a team effort as Oregon signees 6-foot-6 Matt Humphrey (No. 72) and 6-foot-8 Josh Crittle (No. 101) were off their games a little, finishing with eight and seven points respectively, but their teammates picked up the slack to win their third game in a row.


Hales Franciscan was led by 5-foot-9 junior D.J. Cooper with 18 points and five assists.  He received solid support from his backcourt running mate 5-foot-10 Phillip Williams, who chipped in with 15 points. Pace's top gun was 6-foot-5 Ray Shipman (No. 77 / Florida), who finished with a game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds. He got most of his support from 6-foot-8 junior Rakeem Buckles, who finished with 10 points and was the only other Pace player in double figures.


Fifth Place Game:  Woodland Hills Taft (Calif.) 76 - Georgetown Scott County (Ky.) 59


Woodland Hills Taft pressed from the opening gun to disrupt Scott County's offense, rolling to an early 20-4 lead early then heading into the locker room up 46-22. Scott County cut the lead to 15 points on a couple of occasions in the second half, but couldn't get a final run started to close that gap as Taft won a 76-59 decision to capture fifth place at the City of Palms.


Taft used a balanced attack headed by 6-foot-6 Eugene Phelps (Long Beach State), who finished with 25 points and eight rebounds. He received solid support from 6-foot-3 Bryce Smith, who added 20 points, including 4-three pointers, while 6-foot point guard Larry Drew (No. 58 / North Carolina) added 16 points, including 4-threes as well and five assists. Scott County was led by 6-foot-5 wing man Tyler Portwood with 19 points, including 4-threes of his own. He received support from 6-foot-1 eighth grader Tamron Manning and 6-foot-7 Richie Phares, who both finished with 10 points apiece.


Third Place Game:  Flushing Holy Cross (N.Y.) 74 - Gretna Helen Cox (La.) 56


This one was close for the first 28 minutes with Helen Cox holding a 50-45 lead with just over four minutes to play in the game. It was then that Sylven Landesberg (No. 37 / Virginia) and his teammates took over down the stretch, outscoring Helen Cox 24-11 in the final minutes to win a 74-56 decision and the third-place trophy.


This one was the Sylven Landesberg show, as the 6-foot-5 swing man from Holy Cross went off for 44 points in the win. He was on fire throughout the game, hitting 13 of 20 field goals along with 16 of 17 free throws. For good measure, he added 11 rebounds.  


Helen Cox was led by 6-foot-11 Greg Monroe (No. 2 / Georgetown) and 6-foot-3 Calvin Thompson (Howard), each scoring 16 points. Monroe added a game-high 13 rebounds, but didn't get his game going until the third quarter where he scored 10 points and helped Helen Cox to the lead. Unfortunately neither he nor Thompson had an answer for Landesberg down the stretch.


City of Palms Championship Game: Newark St. Benedict's (N.J.) 68 - Chester (Pa.) 55


The City of Palms final was close early, as both clubs came ready to play, but St. Benedict's opened the second quarter with a 14-0 run that eventually put the game away. They were building their lead to over 20 in the third quarter before coasting home with a 68-55 victory over a solid Chester squad. It was a story of too much size on the inside as 6-foot-9 bookends Samardo Samuels and Greg Echenique (No. 35 junior) dominated the game around the hoop.


It was a huge statement win for St. Benedict's as the Grey Bees knocked off two top 25 squads, Helen Cox and Chester, in consecutive nights, doing something no other New Jersey squad had been able to do - win the City of Palms Classic. 


St. Benedict's was led by Samuels with 20 points and five boards as he earned tournament MVP honors. He received solid support from 6-foot-3 Tamir Jackson (No. 98 junior), 6-foot-2 Scott Machado and 6-foot-8 Tristan Thompson (No.18 sophomore), who all chipped in with 12 points. Samuels' front court running mate Echenique added nine points and pulled down a game-high 17 rebounds as the nation's No.1 team rolled to the title. Chester was led by 5-foot-9 Karon Butler who finished with 15 points, while 6-foot-6 forwards Nasir Robinson (No .73 / Pittsburgh) and Rhalir Jefferson added 12 points each in the hard-fought loss.


How They Got to the Final: Friday's Semi-Finals


Newark St. Benedict's (N.J.) 64 - Gretna Helen Cox (La.) 50


This one was close throughout the first three quarters. Both clubs exchanged leads with Helen Cox up 12-11 at the end of the first quarter, while St. Benedict's bounced back to go up 23-20 at the end of the first half.


It was in the second half that St. Benedict's, making a statement for the No. 1 team in the country ranking, took over, hitting 18 of their 28 shots from the field and went inside to 6-foot-9 bookends Samuels and Echenique. The dynamic duo dominated the fourth quarter of play leading an early 13-1 run to win a 64-50 decision over Helen Cox.


Samuels won the battle in the matchup of the nation's top two big men, as he scored 25 points and pulled down seven rebounds, while Greg Monroe was held to 11 points and 10 rebounds. He was held scoreless in the third quarter by Samuels and Echenique. Together they frustrated Monroe and that was a real key to the Grey Bees' victory.


Echenique was solid on the offensive end, as well, with 13 points and 13 rebounds for St. Benedict's. The other player in double figures for Helen Cox was Justin Fairman, who finished with 11 points.


Chester (Pa.) 62 - Flushing Holy Cross (N.Y.) 53


In the early going, Holy Cross controlled the tempo and took an early 10-3 lead, holding onto that lead throughout the first half to go into the locker room up 26-21.


The second half was dominated by the inside play of Chester's talented trio of 6-foot-6 forwards in Nasir Robinson, Rhalir Jefferson and Russell Johnson. They led a fourth quarter rally that broke open a close game with a 13-3 run in the final three minutes to win going away.


Chester was led by Jefferson with 18 points, while 6-foot Karon Burton added 16 points. The above mentioned Robinson and Johnson chipped in with 12 and 11 points, respectively. They both pulled down 12 rebounds in the win.


Holy Cross was led by Landesberg, who finished with a game-high 22 points. He got support from sweet shooting 6-foot-1 Blaise French with 18 points.


No doubt there were some stellar performances in Fort Myers and some players who had special tournaments.  Those players were noted by the media:


City of Palms All-Tournament Team

Samardo Samuels 6-foot-9 PF Newark St. Benedict's (N.J.) - MVP

Greg Echenique 6-foot-9 C Newark St. Benedict's (N.J.)

Nasir Robinson 6-foot-6 WF Chester (Pa.)

Karon Butler 5-foot-9 PG Chester (Pa.)

Kenny Boynton 6-foot-2 SG Plantation American Heritage (Fla.)

Rashanti Harris 6-foot-9 C Columbus New Hope (Miss.)

Greg Monroe 6-foot-11 C Gretna Helen Cox (La.)

Tyler Portwood 6-foot-5 WF Georgetown Scott County (Ky.)

Sylven Landesberg 6-foot-5 SG Flushing Holy Cross (N.Y.)

Larry Drew 6-foot-1 PG Woodland Hills Taft (Calif.)

Matt Humphrey 6-foot-6 WF Chicago Hales Franciscan (Ill.)

David Paulk 6-foot-5 WF Fort Myers Dunbar (Fla.)


We'd like to thank tournament director Donnie Wilkie for his hospitality while we were in Fort Myers and Patrick Stanwood for the updates on the final day's games.