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Prep matchup headlines Sunday’s games at Spalding Hoophall Classic

January 16, 2012 Columns No Comments

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Sunday saw a number of prep schools take the court in five games at the Spalding Hoophall Classic. The day started with a blowout and then had two that were somewhat convincing wins for the victors, then came the game everyone was waiting for. The last game was well-contested, but wasn’t as good as its predecessor.

With that, we take a look back at the scores and some notes from Sunday’s games at Blake Arena.

Sunday Scoreboard

Centereach (NY) Our Savior New American 87, Baltimore (MD) Mount St. Joseph 64

Oakdale (CT) St. Thomas More 71, Wilbraham (MA) Wilbraham & Monson Academy 60

Southborough (MA) St. Mark’s 67, Wynnewood (PA) Friends Central 57

Wolfeboro (NH) Brewster Academy 57, Tilton (NH) School 53

Fitchburg (MA) Notre Dame Prep 55, New Hampton (NH) Prep 49


Honor Roll

Nick Lewis, Our Savior New American: 23 points, 17 rebounds

Nerlens Noel, Tilton School: 22 points on 7-10 shooting, 8 rebounds, 7 blocked shots

Chris Obekpa, Our Savior New American: 10 points, 13 rebounds, 8 blocked shots

Marcel Pettway, Wilbraham & Monson Academy: 13 points, 9 rebounds

Jaymie Spears, St. Mark’s: 15 points on 4-5 shooting (3-4 on three-pointers), 4 assists, 4 steals

Kaleb Tarczewski, St. Mark’s: 22 points on 9-11 shooting, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocked shots

Aaron Thomas, Brewster Academy: 23 points on 8-13 shooting (4-4 on three-pointers), 4 steals

Kameron Williams, Mount St. Joseph’s: 28 points on 12-19 shooting (4-7 three-pointers), 7 rebounds



Our Savior Rolls in Under-the-Radar Opener


The first game of the day had a light crowd for a while, before people began to make their way in for the later games that began right after it. Still, it featured a good deal of talent, mostly under the radar.

Chris Obekpa (6’9″ Sr. PF-C) is the most known commodity on the winning team, and understandably so. He’s well-built, can block shots and rebound and is a plus athlete, and his offense isn’t bad although it can get better, as he was 4-16 from the field for 10 points to go with 13 rebounds. He showed a slight fade on his mid-range jumper but did good work inside.

Teammate Felix Balamou (6’3″ Sr. SG) is very athletic and can finish when he gets to the basket. Nick Lewis (6’2″ Sr. SG) is an active guard who had a double-double in the first half and finished with team highs of 23 points and 17 rebounds. They also have an eighth grader that will be worth keeping an eye on in Devonte Green (6’1″ SG).

Kameron Williams (6’3″ Jr. SG) was the biggest bright spot for Mount St. Joseph’s, scoring a game-high 28 points on 12-19 shooting. His best help came from Phil Booth (6’4″ So. SG), who had 12 points and four assists.


Balance is the Name of the Game for St. Thomas More


Jere Quinn’s teams at St. Thomas More have tended to be balanced teams, although he did have a stud in Andre Drummond the last couple of years. This year’s team is a balanced one, and that showed in their win over a Wilbraham & Monson team that was playing its third game in a few days.

Four players scored in double figures for the Chancellors, led by 16 from Ky Howard (6’3″ Sr. SG), who added four assists. Howard won’t wow you with athleticism or a particular skill, but he has a nice feel for the game and is solid all around. The Chancellors also got 14 points and six rebounds from Chier Ajou (7’2″ Sr. C), who should eventually be a good big man at New Mexico. Denzel Gregg (6’5″ Jr. SF) and A.J. English (6’3″ Sr. SG) each had 11, with Gregg adding six rebounds and English handing out five assists. Gregg might be the team’s best prospect, while English is a good complementary guard.

There’s more talent that also contributed on Sunday, from athletic guard Torin Childs-Harris (6’3″ Sr. SG) to Curtis Jones (6’1″ Sr. PG), and they helped even without reaching double digits in the scoring column. In all, it added up to the kind of effort the Chancellors will continue to use to win games.


Aaron Thomas Leads Loaded Brewster in Big Game


Brewster Academy is loaded with talent, as has been the case often in recent years. They have several high-major prospects and a number of players who can hurt you. One player who doesn’t get as much pub as the others was the big reason they won on Sunday, which just shows the depth of this team.

Florida State signee Aaron Thomas (6’4″ Sr. SG) is a talented guard. He’s athletic, can score, shoot and pass the ball well, playing almost like a combo guard even though he’s definitely a shooting guard. From the beginning of the game, he was getting baskets, and he continued all the way through to the tune of 23 points on 8-13 shooting, including a perfect 4-4 from long range.

As if that wasn’t enough, he made the big defensive play in the last minute. Guarding Tilton’s very talented sophomore, Wayne Selden (6’4″ So. SG), he came up with a strip and then the loose ball to help seal the game as he then buried two free throws. It was the last of four steals he had on the day.

Thomas missed about a month earlier in the season with an injury, and Brewster head coach Jason Smith said it had a noticeable impact on the team. He added that Thomas has been like this all year, so it’s fair to say his stock is rising and looks more and more like an excellent pickup for Florida State.

Thomas’ big game shows why Brewster is so dangerous. They have so much talent, a number of guys who can lead the way to victory. On Sunday, it was Thomas’ day to do it.


Noel Plays Like a Big-Time Player


The loaded Tilton team had one player in particular shine on Sunday, big man Nerlens Noel (6’10” Jr. C). It was already known that he’s a human eraser, and he did plenty of that on Sunday. In so doing, he often neutralized Michigan-bound Mitch McGary (6’9″ Sr. PF), who had chances to score but struggled to finish.

Noel finished with seven blocked shots, but that is in some dispute as it seemed like he had more than that. There were a couple of times that he blocked two shots right in a row. He also had eight rebounds and a team-high 22 points, albeit in a losing effort. In the process, he showed once again that he belongs among the elite players in the class of 2013.

His length and shot-blocking are now accompanied by a better offensive game, although it still needs a good amount of work. Noel is now more skilled with the ball than before and looks more adept at scoring close to the basket in a halfcourt offense. At times he got the ball in close and did well to finish, making him that much more effective and more than just a shot-blocker.


Tarczewski Takes Over, Rest of St. Mark’s Follows


There wasn’t much debate about who the best player on the floor was in St. Mark’s win over Friends Central. Arizona-bound Kaleb Tarczewski (7’0″ Sr. C) took the game over in the second half as St. Mark’s fended off a rally and then sealed the game with a solid fourth quarter. With that, some of his support cast followed suit, and he does have some help.

Tarczewski was relatively quiet in the first half, scoring eight points on 3-4 shooting. Part of that came from St. Mark’s not doing a good job of getting him the ball. In the second half, they not only got it to him more inside, but he was more aggressive. He would finish with 22 points on 9-11 shooting and five assists, showing that he’s not a black hole at the offensive end.

Three other Lions scored in double figures as just one reserve got off the bench. Michigan-bound Nik Stauskas (6’5″ Sr. SG), an underrated wing, had 16 points, while Jaymie Spears (5’9″ Sr. PG) had 15 points, 4 assists and 4 steals. Spears, who was 3-4 from long range on the day, may play football in college, as he’s had a lot of success on the gridiron in his high school career. Eric Green (6’3″ Sr. SG), a nice pickup for Holy Cross, had 11 points and seven rebounds, with nine of his points coming in the second half.

The big key all season for St. Mark’s will be to get support for Tarczewski and Stauskas. On Sunday, they got just that, following the lead of their big man as he took the game over, something he is capable of doing.


Other Notes From Sunday

  • Jaylen Brantley (5’10” Jr. PG) had a good run this weekend for Wilbraham & Monson in his hometown. On Sunday, he had 14 points, although he didn’t have the good assist and turnover numbers he often does as he had one assist and six turnovers.
  • Wilbraham & Monson’s Kamali Bey (6’3″ Jr. SG) missed over a year of action after a broken leg in May 2010. When he first came back in July, you could tell he had a long way to go from a conditioning standpoint, and he wasn’t in the best condition before the injury. But he looks much better now, and this spring may look more like the player he was before the injury.
  • It wasn’t the best game for Tilton’s Georges Niang (6’7″ Sr. PF), and that didn’t help as he’s vitally important to them. He couldn’t get untracked and foul trouble didn’t help.
  • JaKarr Sampson (6’8″ Sr. SF) had a relatively quiet 13 points and seven rebounds for Brewster Academy. As he showed in the fall, though, the big deal is that his skill set is clearly better than it was a year ago, when all he had going for him was length and athleticism.
  • Mitch McGary (6’10” Sr. PF) struggled offensively for Brewster, scoring just three points on 1-8 shooting. But he had 12 rebounds, and may be a little overrated as he doesn’t look like a top ten player nationally. That said, he should be a nice player in Michigan’s system, and it’s just about impossible to overrate how good a kid he is.
  • Notre Dame Prep big man Steven Adams (7’0″ Sr. C) wasn’t a big factor, but there were some things to like. He moves reasonably well inside, has a good frame and showed that he will dive for a loose ball. He didn’t look like a future lottery pick, but he’s only been in the country for a short time and there’s surely a little adjustment at hand.
  • Notre Dame Prep’s excellent shooter, Myles Davis (6’2″ Sr. SG), might have the quietest 24 points I can remember him scoring. Partly, it was because he was 14-15 from the free throw line.
  • Boston College signee Olivier Hanlan (6’3″ Sr. PG-SG) didn’t have his best day in scoring 12 points in the losing effort for New Hampton Prep. He was 5-14 and seemed to be playing out of character.
  • Noah Vonleh (6’7″ So. SF-PF) had nine rebounds for New Hampton, something he’s long been able to do. But he had just seven points and eight turnovers with no assists, and the offensive end is where he’ll need to improve. The desire to do that is there, as is the work ethic, but right now he doesn’t have much going for him offensively.

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