National Prep Showcase - Day Two Recap I
Day Two of the National Prep Showcase tipped off on Saturday in front of another capacity crowd full of fans, college coaches, and national media members.
Game of the Morning:
Bridgton Academy (ME) 73 Fork Union Military Academy (VA) 72
In what looked to be a blow-out in the opening game of day two, Bridgton would erase a 20-point half time deficit against a tough, disciplined Fork Union team to storm back in the second half and tie the game at 58 with just under six minutes remaining. Following his 23-point, five-rebound performance on Friday, Kareem Canty was again the catalyst for Bridgton, hitting a variety of three-point and mid-range pull-ups off the bounce and repeatedly getting into the lane with a devastating handle to create easy scores for teammates. Ryan Martin was a force on the interior for the Wolverines, as Fork Union proved unable to keep the athletic, 6’8” forward off the glass and prevent him from finishing at the rim or getting to the free-throw line.
With the game tied at 69 with under a minute to play, Canty would hit a big-time, pull-up jumper going to his left off a high ball-screen to give Bridgton its first lead of the game, 71-69. Evan Bates would answer on the ensuring possession, hitting a deep three from the right wing to give Fork Union the lead back, 72-71. As it had all morning, Bridgton would again put the ball in the hands of Canty, who knifed to the rim on the following possession, drew the foul, and converted two free-throws to recapture the lead with under 10 seconds remaining. Fork Union would have its chance trailing by a point on the game‘s last possession, but a driving effort to the basket was rejected by Purdue-bound forward Donnie Hale and Bridgton would hang on for the thrilling, 73-72 comeback victory.
Canty finished with a game-high 20 points for Bridgton and showed tremendous leadership and poise leading his team back from 20-down at the break. The inside tandem of Hale and Martin, who was held scoreless in the first half, posted 15 and 13 respectively. Bryce Douvier led Fork Union with 19 points, on 11-11 from the free-throw line, while 6’6” forward Lee Skinner showcased a polished, back-to-the-basket game on his way towards 10 points and five rebounds.
Kareem Canty (Bridgton)- One of the premiere guards at the event, Canty followed up a 23-point, five-rebound effort with a game-high 20 points in Bridgton’s scintillating, comeback victory over Fork Union in Saturday’s opening game. There wasn’t a single opposing-defender capable of staying in front of Canty in his two games at the event, and his ability to rise-up over people and consistently knock down perimeter jumpers made him virtually unguardable when he displayed poise and patience with the basketball. The next step is for Canty to truly embrace the role of lead guard by refining his decision-making and raising the level of his teammate’s play by being more of a vocal leader on the floor.
Andre Drummond (St. Thomas More)- After a modest eight-point, four-rebound effort against Lee Academy on Friday and a lackluster performance in the first half on Saturday, Drummond came to life in the final 20 minutes and overtime against Princeton Day to show why he is the consensus top ranked center in the country in the class of 2012. Finally starting to demand touches inside, he dunked the ball with authority on several occasions, catching and finishing off dribble-penetration and creating for himself in one-on-one post match-ups. While Drummond’s 22 points, 15 rebounds, and six blocks were certainly impressive, it was the dominant, determined mentality he displayed in doing so that was most encouraging.
Roy Mabrey (St. Thomas More)- Mabrey took advantage of a Princeton Day team focused on trying to handle Drummond inside to the tune of a team-high 30 points on five of nine shooting from behind the arc. He was in constant motion on offense, running defenders off screens and spacing himself well off dribble-penetration for clean catch-and-shoot looks. In the second half and overtime, when Princeton Day defenders started to get out and crowd him at the arc, Mabrey showed a solid understanding of attacking close-outs and creating offense for himself off the bounce.
Kareem Storey (Princeton Day Academy)- Storey was flat-out sensational in Princeton Day’s 91-87, overtime victory over St. Thomas More in Saturday‘s second game. Knocking down big shot after big shot in the second half to counter a dominating offensive performance from Drummond on the other end, Storey did a tremendous job of staying on the attack and looking for his offensive without forcing the issue or making bad decisions. He finished with a game-high 31 points on five-of-nine shooting from three, and his Princeton Day squad needed every one of them to close out Drummond and his no-quit teammates.
Jordan Laguerre (New Hampton)- Laguerre (23 points, six rebounds) was brilliant in New Hampton’s early afternoon match-up with Hargrave and its dynamic backcourt loaded with ACC-talent. While showing off his smooth, lefty stroke from three, he was terrific off the bounce on the wing, utilizing a tight, left-to-right cross on multiple occasions to change direction on a dime and get all the way to the bucket for scores. In perhaps the most impressive individual play of the day, Laguerre caught the ball two-feet behind the arc early in the second half, used a text-book shot-fake to get his defender in the air, took two dribbles with his left towards the rim and exploded off two-feet for a tomahawk, right-hand dunk. Combine that type of raw athleticism with his high skill-level and perimeter shooting ability, and opposing coaches will be spending plenty a late-nights trying to come up with ways to contain him next year in the Atlantic 10.
Robert Brown (Hargrave Military Academy)- Brown was simply a handful to defend in Hargrave’s 86-75 victory over New Hampton on Saturday afternoon. The Virginia Tech commit shot the ball from three, used a quick first-step to attack the rim, and finished with flare in transition. With Hargrave’s loaded backcourt, if its not fellow P.J. Hairston, Dez Wells, or Marquis Rankin, it’s Brown. He proved that today with a monster 25-point, 15-rebound performance.
Naadir Tharpe (Brewster Academy)- While Tharpe’s stat-line from Brewster’s blow-out win against Fishburne Academy was nothing that jumped out of the box score, his impact on the game with his court-savvy and leadership is undeniable. His uncanny ability to control tempo and put the ball on the money to open teammates for high-percentage looks is the fuel that makes Brewster’s high-powered offense go. Despite missing all four of his three-point attempts, the release and rotation on his perimeter shot look smooth. Continuing to gain consistency and confidence in that area of his game will only make his transition to Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawk program and the Big 12 Conference that much more seamless.
Markus Kennedy (Brewster Academy)- With an 18-point, seven-rebound performance, Kennedy’s combination of size and strength was just too much for anyone to handle in Brewster’s 80-55 victory over Fishburne Military Academy. The Villanova-bound big man used his wide-body and high basketball IQ to consistently gain position on smaller, weaker opponents, and showed impressively soft hands catching-and-finishing in tight spaces and tracking down loose balls in the paint. While he shot five for eight from the floor, he was just 8-15 from the free-throw line, an area he should look to improve upon considering the high volume of contact he draws from defenders struggling to deal with his physicality near the basket.