War on the Shore
by Phil Kasiecki
The first annual War on the Shore Tournament was held this past weekend at Milford Senior High School in Milford, DE. Bob Jacobs, Executive Director of Slam Dunk to the Beach, has once again put together an excellent tournament loaded with talent, this time in the ranks of schools with many post-graduate players and in a nice area. The first full day was marked by blowouts and sloppy games, but the second day saw plenty of good games and had a great finish.
On Saturday, Philadelphia native Mike Cook (6-4 Sr. SG-SF) scored 20 of his game-high 30 points in the second half, and added 14 rebounds to lead New Hampton (NH) Prep past Coastal Christian Academy (Virginia Beach, VA) by a 62-51 margin. Ray George (6-3 Sr. SG) had 20 points and 5 rebounds for Coastal Christian.
Later, the Laurinburg Institute (NC) used its press to open up a big early lead with many transition baskets en route to an easy 79-54 win over National Christian Academy (Fort Washington, MD). National Christian opened the second half with an 11-3 run, but Laurinburg then went on an 18-2 run to put the game out of reach. LSU signee Regis Koundjia (6-7 Sr. SF) led a balanced attack with 16 points, while Joe Dickens (6-7 Sr. SF) had 13 points in 11 minutes of play. Texas A&M signee Keith Blanks (6-4 Sr. SG-SF) played well against his old school, registering 12 points. Patrick Ewing, Jr. (6-8 Sr. SF-PF) led National Christian with 24 points and 12 rebounds in defeat.
Milford (CT) Academy was playing with a question mark about its basketball program after the school was sold recently. In their semifinal game on Saturday, they shot 52.8% from the field and were in control for most of their 91-83 victory over Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, NH). Roosevelt Lee (6-5 Sr. SF) led the way with a game-high 27 points, while Jamual Warren (6-2 Jr. PG) had 17 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists and 5 steals. Norm Plummer (6-6 Jr. SF) led Brewster Academy with 20 points.
In the last of the Tommy Jacobs Memorial Shootout games, Blair Academy (Blairstown, NJ) had no trouble with Notre Dame Academy (Middleburg, VA) despite Duke signee Luol Deng (6-8 Sr. SF) playing just five minutes in the first half due to a mix-up on a foul call. Deng picked up his first foul on a play where fellow star teammate Charlie Villanueva (6-10 Sr. SF) had actually committed the foul. Moments later, Deng picked up an offensive foul and was erroneously listed as having two fouls. He would sit the remainder of the half, but his teammates would take a 41-27 lead into the locker room and never look back en route to a 72-54 win. Roberto Felipe (6-2 Sr. SG) led the way with 17 points, while Deng added 15 and Illinois-bound Villanueva did a little of everything with 15 points, 7 rebounds, 9 blocked shots and 4 steals. For Notre Dame Academy, Dennard Abraham (6-8 Sr. PF) just missed a triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 9 blocks.
Later on the first day, Life Center Academy (Burlington, NJ) gave Bridgton Academy (North Bridgton, ME) all it could handle before succumbing by a 53-51 margin. Bridgton could never break the game open in the first half, where the teams combined to shoot just 37.3% from the field. Life Center remained close throughout the second half, leading on a couple of occasions and missing a late chance to tie it. Alex Johnson (6-9 Sr. SF-PF) led Bridgton with 20 points and 10 rebounds, including making four of five three-point attempts.
Immediately following this was the only overtime game of the day, as the Winchendon (MA) School made a late charge in the second half to force overtime, then was in command throughout the extra session in knocking off Our Savior New American (Centereach, NY) by a 61-47 margin. Much of the game was sloppy, as the teams combined to shoot below 38% from the field and committed 48 turnovers. Iowa State signee Curtis Stinson (6-1 Sr. PG) led Winchendon with 15 points and hauled down 7 rebounds and made 5 steals.
After struggling on Saturday night, Hargrave Military Academy (Chatham, VA) shot 55.2% from the field and held off a late charge by Brewster Academy for a 90-85 win on Sunday in the Sussex County consolation. Providence signee Gerald Brown (6-3 Sr. SG), a non-factor the night before with foul trouble, led Hargrave with 29 points. Norm Plummer (6-6 Jr. SF), who broke out at this tournament with two very good games, had a game-high 32 points on 11-17 shooting.
In the Kent County Championship, Notre Dame Prep (Fitchburg, MA) fought off several small charges by New Hampton (NH) Prep in a 72-56 win. New Hampton tried to make it interesting in the closing minutes, but Notre Dame Prep answered each time.
In the Sussex County Championship, St. Thomas More (Oakdale, CT) rode the hot shooting of Rutgers signee Quincy Douby (6-3 Sr. SG) to an 83-54 rout of Milford (CT) Academy. Douby made 10 of 14 shots, including five of eight three-point attempts, for a game-high 29 points and added 5 assists in just 21 minutes. Milford had an early lead, but once Douby got hot later in the half, the Chancellors were on easy street as they shot 57.7% from the field.
In the Mason-Dixon Championship, Worcester (MA) Academy broke open a close game in the final minutes in an 81-66 win. The game was close throughout, as neither team had a double-digit lead until the Hilltoppers went up by 10 with under two minutes to play, as they would gradually pull away in the closing minutes. Two Big East signees led the way for the Hilltoppers, as Boston College-bound Steve Hailey (6-0 Sr. PG) had 25 points and Providence-bound Dwight Brewington (6-5 Sr. PG-SG) had 23 points on 9-13 shooting, and added 7 rebounds and 5 assists. The Hilltoppers shot 54.7% from the field.
In the final game of the tournament, it took overtime to decide the winner of the New Castle County bracket. Winchendon (MA) School had a 31-26 lead at the half over the Laurinburg (NC) Institute in a game that was tight throughout. The second half saw some tightly-called periods, with a layup by Winchendon’s Karron Clarke (6-6 Sr. SF) sending the game to overtime tied at 59. In the extra session, Laurinburg grabbed the momentum right away by scoring the first five points, but Winchendon would tie it at 66 with under a minute and a half to play. Laurinburg would then finish the game on a 10-2 run for a 76-68 win. Keith Blanks led the way with 22 points, while Regis Koundjia added 18 and 7 rebounds. Curtis Stinson had another solid game for Winchendon, scoring 12 points and handing out 7 assists with just one turnover. For the game, Winchendon shot just 33.8% from the field and committed 22 turnovers, losing despite a commanding 56-36 edge on the boards.
While the talent in this tournament was excellent, it did not translate into great games by and large. The consensus on Saturday’s games seemed to be that they left something to be desired, primarily from sloppy play and blowouts being the rule. Jacobs promised that this tournament will get better, and given his track record, there is no reason not to believe it. Next month, Jacobs holds the 13th annual Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament at Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes, DE, annually the nation’s top high school basketball tournament.
Part of the reason for the games turning out as they did is the very nature of prep school teams. They are typically comprised largely of players with no loyalty to the school and who have never played together before, and with selfish reasons (albeit not entirely bad ones) for being at the school in the first place, as many are there either to further develop their games or improve in the classroom. Thus the team concept is not as inherent as it is with a regular high school where the players by and large are there for more than just one season and have loyalty to their school, and this is the challenge that these coaches face in addition to helping kids who may have struggled in the classroom up to that point.
On Sunday, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino showed up to check out some of the games with his kids. At an event where many college coaches were present, as well as some NBA scouts, Pitino stood out as one of the few head coaches there and the most notable one. His Louisville team this season is thought by many to be an NCAA Tournament-caliber team, led by senior guard Reece Gaines and an improved supporting cast.
If the tournament had a breakout player, it was Brewster Academy’s Norm Plummer. The 6-6 junior small forward played very well in both games as he led his team in scoring with 52 points. Plummer is an athletic forward who plays every second, scores often in transition and in close on drives, while needing to work on his jump shot. He is around the ball a lot and showed plenty of potential this weekend.
Keith Blanks, Laurinburg Institute (6-4 Sr. SG-SF) (signed with Texas A&M)
Josh Boone, West Nottingham (6-9 Sr. PF-C) (signed with Connecticut)
Dwight Brewington, Worcester Academy (6-5 Sr. PG-SG) (signed with Providence)
Quincy Douby, St. Thomas More (6-3 Sr. SG) (signed with Rutgers)
Gary Ervin, Notre Dame Prep (5-11 Sr. PG) (signed with Mississippi State)
Steve Hailey, Worcester Academy (6-0 Sr. PG) (signed with Boston College
Regis Koundjia, Laurinburg Institute (6-7 Sr. SF) (signed with LSU)
Norm Plummer, Brewster Academy (6-6 Jr. SF)
Daliek Powell, Lutheran Christian Academy (6-6 Sr. SF) (unsigned)
Curtis Stinson, Winchendon School (6-1 Sr. PG) (signed with Iowa State)
Oumar Sylla, Our Savior New American (6-6 Sr. SF) (committed to Valparaiso)