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Day Four

December 30, 2003 Columns No Comments

Slam Dunk to the Beach – Day 4 Recap

by Phil Kasiecki

Lakewood (OH) St. Edward HS 60, Camden (AL) Wilcox Central HS 46
Bennettsville (SC) Marlboro County HS 62, Birmingham (AL) A.H. Parker HS 54
Centereach (NY) Our Savior New American 66, Cleveland (TX) Heritage Christian Academy 35
Fort Washington (MD) National Christian Academy 91, Laurinburg (NC) Institute 75
Orlando (FL) Dr. Phillips HS 69, Scotch Plains (NJ) High 51
Durham (NC) Mt. Zion Christian Academy 67, Philadelphia (PA) William Penn Charter 55

Slam Dunk to the Beach Bracket – Consolation
Provo (UT) Timpview 43, Elizabeth (NJ) St. Patrick’s HS 42
Seattle (WA) Rainier Beach 69, Bloomfield (NJ) Technical 58

Slam Dunk to the Beach Bracket – Semifinals
Atlanta (GA) Southwest Atlanta Christian HS 65, Jacksonville (FL) Arlington Country Day 62
Reserve (LA) Christian HS 79, Los Angeles (CA) Westchester HS 76

Howard Stars, But Teammates Make Clutch Shots

Things didn’t look good early on for Dwight Howard and his Atlanta (GA) Southwest Atlanta Christian team. Jacksonville (FL) Arlington Country Day got off to a quick start, hitting several three-pointers to build a 22-4 lead in the first quarter, and the Warriors struggled to get the ball into Howard when he wasn’t staying on the perimeter.

But the Warriors got things in gear in the second, getting within 32-28 at the half, and staying close throughout the third and fourth quarters. Then in the final minute, sophomore guard Javaris Crittenton hit a driving layup to tie the game and made the free throw after being fouled to give them a 63-62 lead. After an Apache miss, two free throws by Aljamon Alexander sealed the 65-62 win, putting the Warriors in the championship game of the Slam Dunk to the Beach bracket against Reserve (LA) Christian HS.

Howard didn’t dominate every play of the game, but he had a game-high 23 points and 24 rebounds to go with 5 blocked shots. The Apaches did a good job of denying entry passes into Howard for much of the game, forcing him at times to operate away from the basket. Nonetheless, Howard showed why he’s projected by some to be the top pick in next June’s NBA Draft if he declares, and all indications right now are that he will do just that.

Crittenton, who played with Howard in AAU as well, had 12 points in the game, while reserve wing Tyrone Burke had 16 points in 16 minutes, making 4 of 7 three-pointers along the way.

Young Reserve Christian Stops Gabriel Pruitt Show In The Semifinals

In the first half of the semifinal game between Reserve (LA) Christian HS and Los Angeles (CA) Westchester HS, it looked like it would be the Gabriel Pruitt show right into the championship game. Pruitt dominated the half with 21 points on 8-14 shooting and grabbed 7 rebounds to help stake the Comets to a 49-34 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, the Eagles did a better job of containing Pruitt and got back into it, and continued it for much of the fourth quarter. They would run off 16 straight points to eventually take the lead, but Pruitt broke the run and eventually gave the Comets the lead again with clutch baskets and a steal.

Then with the score tied in the final seconds, Eagle senior forward George Brozos stole a pass and was fouled. He made one of two free throws, getting the rebound on the miss and being fouled again. This time, he hit both free throws, then a tying three-point attempt by Westchester’s Marcus Johnson was an airball, giving the Eagles a 79-76 win and a berth in the championship game of the Slam Dunk to the Beach bracket.

Brozos, a 6’6″ senior forward, led the winners with 22 points and 8 rebounds, making several clutch plays at both ends of the floor. He was one of four players in double figures, with super sophomore Demond Carter adding 15 points and 4 assists to spark the offense.

Pruitt led all scorers with 30 points and 13 rebounds.

Huertas Stars In Defeat, Has Help

Junior guard David Huertas played well in the quarterfinal game for Jacksonville (FL) Arlington Country Day, but he really showed how good he is in the semifinals despite his team losing. Known as a great shooter, Huertas has nicely showcased his in-between game thus far, and it was certainly on display Monday night.

Huertas finished with 21 points and 4 steals, including shooting 3-7 on three-pointers. But the highlights of the evening were the three floating runners he hit right over Dwight Howard, each one swishing right through the hoop. For good measure, he added three assists, further demonstrating his good decisions with the ball and why he’ll be one of the top prospects in the class of 2005.

Also having a good showing was 6’4″ classmate Brian Hoff, who continued to shoot lights out and especially when he got open looks, and Sammy Hernandez. Hoff had 15 points on 4-7 shooting, all from three-point range, and added three assists. One of his three-pointers was a clutch shot late that gave the Apaches their last lead of the evening at 62-60. Hernandez bravely defended Howard (whom he gives up six inches to) inside at times when 7’2″ sophomore Jason Bennett sat with foul trouble, and did a decent job of it. He continued to improve and had 8 points and 8 rebounds.

Bright Is Shooting It

Cincinnati signee Roy Bright has always known how to score, but he managed to light it up from long range on Monday night in leading Durham (NC) Mt. Zion Christian Academy to a 67-55 win over Philadelphia (PA) William Penn Charter. Bright, a 6’6″ athlete, had a game-high 20 points on 8-14 shooting, including 3-5 from three-point range. He led a 9-19 effort from long range in the game.

If Bright continues to knock down the long range jumpers, he’ll be that much more dangerous.

Sharpe Shows Talent When He Wants To

Walter Sharpe, a 6’9″ senior power forward from Birmingham (AL) A.H. Parker HS, has no shortage of talent. The question is when he will decide to show it, and Monday’s 62-54 loss to Bennettsville (SC) Marlboro County HS was one of those times.

Sharpe had 23 points on 9-13 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds, and made the play of the game when he moved outside of the post and threw a no-look, over the shoulder pass to a cutter for an open layup. He’s an athletic post player and is getting looks from high-majors, but he’s borderline academically and may not qualify, which will keep some schools away.

Washington, Durant Lead Surprise Win For Eagles

Fort Washington (MD) National Christian Academy knocked off Laurinburg (NC) Institute by a score of 91-75, a surprise considering Laurinburg’s great depth and National Christian’s comparative lack of that and talent. The Eagles led for most of the game and it wasn’t in doubt for much of it.

Leading the way was Virginia Tech signee Deron Washington, who had 17 points, 15 rebounds and 4 steals, consistently making plays at both ends of the floor. Hokie fans will be very happy to add the very athletic forward, who needs to get stronger but plays stronger than he looks and makes a lot of plays.

Washington’s primary help came from sophomore Kevin Durant, a long 6’8″ small forward who also posted a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and James Madison signee Chris Matthews, who shot the ball well en route to a game-high 21 points. Durant shot the ball well and has great potential once his body matures. He has to keep working to improve his skills as that happens, and if he does that he should be one of the top players in the class of 2006.

Rich Has Some Help In Victory

Jason Rich may be the McDonald’s All-American candidate at Orlando (FL) Dr. Phillips HS, but he took a back seat in the Panthers’ 69-51 win over Scotch Plains (NJ) High on Monday. Rich managed 15 points and 6 rebounds, but it was classmate Trey Hopkins who stole the show.

Hopkins, a 6’0″ point guard, had 29 points on 11-16 shooting, including 7-12 on three-pointers. Anytime he was left open, it spelled bad news for the Raiders, and for good measure, he added 4 assists with no turnovers in capably running the show.

Jack Berry played another good game in a support role as well, scoring 12 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. He’ll be a nice pickup for some mid-major, likely an Ivy League school.

Another Solid Outing For Palacios

Big-time prospect Juan Diego Palacios had another good game on Monday as he led Centereach (NY) Our Savior New American to a 66-35 romp over young and talented Cleveland (TX) Heritage Christian Academy. Palacios had a game-high 21 points and 8 rebounds, while also handing out 3 assists and getting 3 steals.

His main support came from junior James Tchana, who had 8 points and 8 rebounds off the bench using his big frame inside. Other support players like senior wing Gary Konate and junior center Kevin Mormin didn’t play their best, but didn’t need to. The very athletic Konate struggled shooting the ball, while Mormin faded away on several of his shots and was just 2-6 from the field.

Other Notes

• Casaan Breeden played a better game for Bennettsville (SC) Marlboro County HS in their win over Birmingham (AL) A.H. Parker. He scored 16 points on 6-11 shooting, knocking down a couple of mid-range jumpers. If he improves his shooting, the athletic 6’8″ junior will have plenty of suitors. Classmate Jacobie Poe had a nice outing as well, leading the team with 18 points on 7-12 shooting, including 4-8 on three-pointers.

• One error in yesterday’s notes was related to Cleveland (TX) Heritage Christian Academy sophomore forward Chris Roquemore, who had a double-double in defeat on Monday. Roquemore had 11 points and 12 rebounds, although he shot just 4-15 from the field. He originally committed to Baylor, but he has reneged on that, for now at least.

• Chris Moore had another solid outing as Lakewood (OH) St. Edward HS beat Camden (AL) Wilcox Central, 60-46. Moore had 16 points on 8-12 shooting and 4 blocks, getting a few baskets from running the floor. He won’t make many highlight reels, but he’s efficient and runs the floor well, and with added strength he’ll be a nice addition to UC-Santa Barbara.

• Unsigned senior forward C.J. Anderson had a quiet double-double in the losing effort for Laurinburg (NC) Institute, scoring 17 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Anderson is athletic and versatile, capable of handling the ball as well as well as being a scorer.

• Derrick Caracter is getting all the press, but classmate Lance Thomas has shown that he’s not too bad, either. Monday, the 6’7″ forward had 16 points and 6 rebounds in the losing effort, scoring several times on nice slashing drives with good finishes.

• On more than one occasion, Reserve (LA) Christian had one player each from grades 8 through 12 on the court.

One more day remains, with more Tommy Jacobs Memorial games and the Slam Dunk to the Beach championship game between Reserve (LA) Christian HS and Atlanta (GA) Southwest Atlanta Christian HS. Stay tuned for continuing coverage.


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