National Prep Showcase Day 1 Recap
So much has changed for Notre Dame Prep since last season. Gone is former Head Coach Bill Barton and in is new Head Coach Ryan Hurd. Gone are players like Michael Beasley (Kansas State), Jamine Peterson (Providence), and Deonte Roberts (Wisconsin-Milwaukee) and in are Terrence Jennings (committed to Louisville), Melquan Bolding (committed to Louisville), and Kimmie English (committed to Missouri). But some things never change, and that was certainly the case today as Sean Crawford and Johnny Higgins, the two returning players from last year’s national championship team, came through down the stretch to seal the victory for Notre Dame.
With 1:45 left to play in the game Notre Dame held a slim 70-69 lead over Fork Union Military Academy. On their next possession, Crawford chased down a long offensive rebound, made a quick drive to the basket, and then tossed in a soft floater. As Fork Union attempted to quickly inbound the ball Johnny Higgins spun around to pick off the pass and then tossed a behind the back pass to Crawford who laid the ball in to open up a 74-69 point lead. Appropriately, no one else would score after this sequence accept for Crawford who knocked down a free-throw to ice the victory with ten seconds left.
Also impressive for Notre Dame was Kimmie English who thrived in the open floor along with knocking down some very timely three-pointers. English finished with 21 points on 8 of 14 shooting from the floor and 3 of 6 shooting from behind the arc. Despite struggling on the offensive end of the floor, Terrence Jennings owned the opposite end as he was credited with 6 blocks (although he appeared to have several more) along with 15 rebounds. Melquan Bolding chipped in with 13 points and 7 rebounds.
Massanutten Military Academy 71 St. Thomas More 59
Despite another impressive performance from Devin Ebanks, St. Thomas More couldn’t get into any type of offensive rhythm and consequently struggled to keep up with Massanutten Military Academy in the opening game of the tournament. Ebanks finished with 27 points on 12 of 21 shooting from the floor showing his typical package of acrobatic finishes and mid-range jumpers. He also pulled down 10 rebounds, handed out 4 assists, and blocked five shots. Unfortunately for STM, Ebanks’ new group of teammates has yet to grasp how to effectively play with their superstar as they were often seen standing around and watching him attempt to make a play. T.J. Robinson was the next highest scorer with 13 points despite shooting just 5 of 16 from the floor. After that no player scored more then five points as the team shot 34% from the field.
Summit Prep 74 Maine Central Institute 59
Despite leading for most of the first half, MCI was not able to sustain any type of momentum in the final 20 minutes of action as Summit dominated play after intermission. There were no outstanding individual performances on either side as MCI’s Lucas Reiff was the game’s leading scorer with 12 points on four three-pointers. Despite the loss there were some positive signs for the Maine based team as they have a much more talented and versatile roster than a year ago. Svetoslav Chetinov showed some potential in the paint scoring 10 points and grabbing 9 rebounds while Marcus Matthews appears capable of putting points on the board in a hurry despite not shooting the ball well today.
Hargrave Military Academy 83 Winchendon 73
Winchendon had the unenviable task of facing the nation’s number one ranked team without the services of their star center John Reik, who sat out today’s action with a knee injury. Despite his absence, Winchendon showed tremendous energy and enthusiasm throughout the 40 minute game and created quite a buzz in the UMass Lowell Gymnasium. Larry Anderson turned in one of the best individual performances of the day as he slashed his way to 29 points while also pulling down 7 rebounds including 5 on the offensive end. Also impressive was the backcourt of Albany bound Anthony Raffa and Springfield native Jansy Crews who were the catalysts of the Winchendon attack, as they both contributed great toughness and tireless work-ethics. Raffa also made shots at a high clip converting all four of his three-point attempts to finish with 16 points while Crews appeared capable of getting into the lane whenever he wanted as he penetrated his way to 12 points and 5 assists, while also grabbing 6 rebounds.
This is a game that was much closer then the final score indicates as Hargrave and Winchendon went back and forth down to the wire. Ultimately, some questionable officiating and excellent foul shooting on Hargrave’s part resulted in the misleading final score. Daier Pitts led the way for Hargrave with 22 points and 8 assists.
Patterson School 75 Bridgton Academy 69
This game also went back and forth for all forty minutes as Bridgton actually held the lead for the majority of the game over a Patterson team that was playing without three of their top players in Nate Miles, Matt Simpkins, Courtney Fortson. In fact with 75 seconds remaining in the game Bridgton held a 69-68 lead. But Patterson was able to utilize a 2-3 zone to frustrate the three time defending NEPSAC champions down the stretch and come away with the victory. Patterson’s best performance came from former Winchendon swingman Muo Mathiang who scored 17 points on 7 of 9 shooting from the floor while pulling down 13 rebounds.
Bridgton was paced by Cardell McFarland who attacked the rim and earned 13 attempts from the free-throw line en route to scoring 21 points. Springfield native Isiah Wallace scored 16 points by making 7 of his 8 shots from the field as he was Bridgton’s only answer for the Patterson zone with his quick released elbow jumper. Hamid Ford didn’t have an overwhelming stat line but was impressive as he controlled the tempo of the game and made several big shots at the end of the shot clock.
The National Prep Championship will resume tomorrow at 9am as Maine Central Institute squares off against Massanutten Military Academy in the first of 9 games on the day’s schedule.