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Day Five

January 1, 2004 Columns No Comments

Slam Dunk to the Beach – Day 5 Recap

by Phil Kasiecki

Fort Washington (PA) Germantown Academy 63, Laurel (DE) High 50
Lakewood (OH) St. Edward 74, Tuscaloosa (AL) Hillcrest HS 61
Champlain St. Lambert (Quebec) 42, Camden (AL) Wilcox Central HS 36
Birmingham (AL) A.H. Parker HS 65, Orlando (FL) Dr. Phillips HS 60
Newark (NJ) St. Benedict’s Prep 66, Bennettsville (SC) Marlboro County HS 50

Slam Dunk to the Beach Bracket — Consolation
Elizabeth (NJ) St. Patrick’s HS 86, Bloomfield (NJ) Technical 79 (OT) (7th Place)
Seattle (WA) Rainier Beach HS 56, Provo (UT) Timpview HS 45 (5th Place)
Los Angeles (CA) Westchester HS 61, Jacksonville (FL) Arlington Country Day 50 (3rd Place)

Slam Dunk to the Beach Bracket — Championship
Atlanta (GA) Southwest Atlanta Christian 71, Reserve (LA) Christian Academy 65

Howard Leads The Way To The Title

In the final minute of the Slam Dunk to the Beach championship, Atlanta (GA) Southwest Atlanta Christian made just enough free throws and defensive plays to hold off young and pesky Reserve (LA) Christian Academy, 71-65, behind MVP Dwight Howard.

Howard led the Warriors as usual, posting his third straight game with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds by scoring 26 points and grabbing 21 rebounds, making 11 of 13 field goal attempts. For good measure, he blocked 7 shots. But this win did not come easy.

Howard scored the Warriors’ first six points on three dunks, but the Eagles led for most of the first quarter and held a 17-14 edge at the end. The teams stayed close for most of the sloppy second quarter, and even though Howard picked up his third foul with 1:24 left in the half, he barely sat the remainder of the half and little changed, as the Eagles went into the locker room up 34-32.

The Warriors came alive in the third behind Howard, when they were able to get the ball to him, as well as senior Aljamon Alexander, who scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half. Throughout the game, the Warriors would try to get the ball to Howard between two and three defenders near him, leading to the passes never reaching him or the ball being poked away almost as soon as he caught it. Howard had 10 turnovers, but not all were his doing.

The Warriors seemed to be in good shape, taking a 68-59 lead on a breakaway dunk by Justin Protho (13 points) with over a minute and a half to play. But the Eagles refused to go quietly, namely senior forward George Brozos. Undeterred by his struggles shooting the ball, he sandwiched two three-pointers around a missed free throw by Howard within a half minute to bring them within 68-65 with just over a minute to play. Brozos had 16 points on 6-24 shooting, including 4-14 on three-pointers.

With 40.4 seconds left, Javaris Crittenton missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but Alexander rebounded the miss and was fouled. He missed both free throws, with Crittenton rebounding the second miss and being fouled. His two free throws would make it 70-65 with 30.5 seconds to go. After a missed three-pointer, Protho rebounded and was fouled, making one of two free throws to provide the final margin.

In the final seconds, Demond Carter (16 points in a valiant effort) sandwiched an airball and off-balance miss between a block at the other end.

The key stat of the game was the Eagles’ 31% shooting, largely a product of their inability to convert the many chances they had to score with Howard nowhere in sight to block or alter the shot.

Smith Rocks The Packed House

J.R. Smith has been known for his exceptional athleticism and the dunks he sometimes gets. On Tuesday night, he got a packed house going on a couple of occasions while helping Newark (NJ) St. Benedict’s Prep to a 66-50 win over Bennettsville (SC) Marlboro County.

Smith, who had 20 points, had one breakaway dunk off a steal in the first half, then in the second half went in and threw down a spinning reverse dunk that brought the crowd to its feet. He didn’t have his best shooting night from long range, but the North Carolina signee has improved in that regard since last year and is certainly one of the top 15 prospects in the class of 2004.

Smith had help from 6’7″ forward Alex Galindo, last year’s tournament MVP. Galindo scored a game-high 23 points, including a couple of nice dunks of his own. Unlike last year, when he did everything in flow, he did force the action a few times, but he’ll be a solid pickup for UTEP, with whom he signed in November.

Another Good Showing for Giles In Win, Williams Comes Through

Seattle (WA) Rainier Beach senior center C.J. Giles had another good showing as his team took fifth place in the Slam Dunk to the Beach bracket with a 56-45 win over Provo (UT) Timpview. Matched up against another good big man, Brigham Young signee Chris Miles, the 6’11” Giles had 21 points and 17 rebounds, making 8 of 13 field goal attempts along the way.

Giles averaged 17 points and 10.3 rebounds in the tournament and was 21-31 from the field. He’s very athletic and mobile inside, running the floor for easy baskets and finishing inside. He’s not an accomplished shot-blocker, but he has plenty of potential down the road. Giles signed with Miami and will give the Hurricanes a good inside presence that will get up and down the floor.

Helping Giles was junior guard Terrence Williams, who scored 15 points and hauled down 7 rebounds. Williams was 6-11 from the field, including 3-5 on three-pointers, with his jump shot being the big area he needs to work on. If he can shoot the ball more like this, including the shot selection he showed, Williams will be one of the better prospects in the class of 2005 since he is capable of playing the point at 6’5″.

White Finally Gets Going, But Not Enough

It took Indiana signee D.J. White, one of the top 15 players in the class of 2004, a while to get going at this year’s tournament after a fine showing last year. In the second half of his team’s 74-61 loss, White came alive and at times took over the game like he is capable of.

White would finish with 22 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks, and in the third quarter he single-handedly led Tuscaloosa (AL) Hillcrest to overcome a 13-point halftime deficit to take the lead by the end of the third quarter. White hit a couple of three-pointers along the way, which isn’t his forte by a long shot, while scoring basket after basket on the low post. But in the fourth, White and the Patriots ran out of gas, eventually losing by 13.

Sharpe Out-Duels Rich, Shows His Talent Again

Walter Sharpe had another big game in helping his team from Birmingham (AL) A.H. Parker to another win, this time a 65-60 decision over Orlando (FL) Dr. Phillips and McDonald’s All-American candidate Jason Rich. The 6’9″ senior power forward scored 28 points, hauled down 17 rebounds, blocked 5 shots and had 4 steals, showing that when he plays, he can be an excellent prospect. Along the way, he made 11 of 12 from the charity stripe. He’s an athletic post player who can make things happen at both ends of the floor.

For his part, Rich had 27 points and 8 rebounds, making a few highlight-film dunks along the way even after he was nicked up in the first half on a play near the basket. He also went 3-7 on three-pointers, a good sign and a trend he surely hopes to continue.

Hernandez Finishes Good Showing In Defeat

Sammy Hernandez, who spent the last two years at Miami (FL) Christian, has continued to make nice strides in his game playing now for Jacksonville (FL) Arlington Country Day School. The 6’5″ junior always knew how to rebound and play tough inside at the defensive end, but now he’s improving his offense and overall ball skills nicely.

Hernandez went for a game-high 18 points in the Apaches’ 61-50 loss to Los Angeles (CA) Westchester on Tuesday, going 9-13 from the field and grabbing 7 rebounds. Hernandez often scored on drives to the basket and handled the ball a fair amount, which is important since he will play on the wing at the college level.

Bloomfield’s Guards Get Going, But Fisher And Celtics Take Seventh

The guards that lead Bloomfield (NJ) Technical didn’t play their best in the team’s first two games, landing the Spartans in the seventh place game against nearby Elizabeth (NJ) St. Patrick’s HS. Finally, seniors Courtney Nelson (Richmond signee), Da’Shawn Dwight and Jason Wilson (the last two to Quinnipiac) got going on Tuesday, but it wasn’t quite enough as the Celtics outlasted the Spartans in overtime, 86-79. With the win, the Celtics gained a measure of revenge, as the Spartans beat them in their season opener a week and a half prior.

Between Nelson and Dwight, it was a tale of two halves, as Dwight scored 15 of his 19 points in the first half, while Nelson came alive in the second half and overtime with several clutch shots along the way. The 6’1″ point guard had a game-high 24 points, 18 coming in the second half, and dished out 7 assists, playing like a team leader when the team needed him to. Wilson had 14 points and 6 rebounds, looking better at both ends in this game than the first two.

The story for St. Patrick’s was freshman guard Corey Fisher. He scored 14 of his team-high 22 points in the second half and overtime, hitting a few clutch shots in regulation and in the extra session. He also ran the show very well, handing out 7 assists with just 2 turnovers in 33 minutes. He shot the ball well during the tournament and should only get better as his body matures.

Ott Finishes Fine Showing

One of the better underclassmen we saw here was Fort Washington (PA) Germantown Academy sophomore Andrew Ott. The 6’9″ forward played was a non-factor in the first game, then played two good games in helping his team go 3-0.

Tuesday, he opened the day by going for 24 points and 11 rebounds in the Patriots’ 63-50 win over Laurel (DE) High. Ott ran the floor well throughout the tournament, showed a good touch from out to mid-range, and did some work inside. For the tournament, he averaged 13 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He spent more time away from the basket than inside, but he’ll get better there with added strength and his nice jump shot is certainly reason enough to try to bring a post defender away from the basket.

Junior teammate Ryan Ayers added 16 points and 13 rebounds, as the Patriots had to go without Brian Grimes, who pulled a groin muscle and sat out the game. Ayers averaged 15.7 points and 9 rebounds in the three games.

Other Notes

• With the win in the seventh place game, St. Patrick’s avoided losing more games in this Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament than they did in four previous appearances. They entered with a 10-2 all-time record in Lewes, and went 1-2 this time around.

• Unsigned senior Junior Nicolas finished up a good showing in the tournament by going 4-4 on three-pointers for a game-high 12 points as Champlain St. Lambert (Quebec) beat Camden (AL) Wilcox Central, 42-36. Nicolas is an undersized shooting guard, but may be able to latch on at a Division I school with his stroke.

• One of the funniest moments of the day came in the fourth quarter of the third place game in the Slam Dunk to the Beach bracket with Jacksonville (FL) Arlington Country Day School head coach Rex Morgan. As one of the Apaches was trapped in the corner, he yelled for a time out, then got it just after his player passed out of the corner. He got the timeout, then yelled to the official, “Not now”, prompting laughs from the crowd.

Coming up, we’ll have a complete recap, with various notes on teams and players. Included will be our look at the tournament “studs and duds”, players who starred and raised their stock, or who disappointed and may see their stock drop.


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