Ft. Myers, Fla.- In what locals were calling the best finals in the 34 year history of the City of Palms Classic, Mater Dei High School withstood the fast and furious pace of the smaller but more athletic Liberty Tech attack. Tournament MVP Taylor King once again played a strong game pacing the winners with 24 points.
Mater Dei (Calif.) High School 85, Liberty Tech (Tenn.) High School 80
A much better player on his high school team than on his summer team, Taylor King excels in a structure where he has the freedom of the go-to guy but at the same time limits himself from doing the things he doesn't do as well. So what you see with King playing for Mater Dei is a guy running off a number of screens, posting up in the low post a great deal, crashing the offensive boards and not forcing action off the dribble.
The formula worked well for King as he was the fifth leading scorer and second leading rebounder in the classic.
In the championship game he only made 1 of 5 three-pointers, but used his post up game and rebounding to hit 10 out of 18 shots in total and get to the free throw line for 3 successful attempts. Although he had 5 turnovers, he did block 5 shots and snag 2 steals.
One of those blocks came on a controversial no-call as Liberty Tech attempted a three-pointer down 83-80 with two seconds left in the game.
Liberty Tech's non-stop pressing both gave and took as Kamyron Brown continually broke through the double team with mixed results. He scored 10 points and dished out 7 assists, but he also turned the ball over 9 times. In total Mater Dei had 22 turnovers, but they out rebounded Liberty Tech 35 to 19.
The big beneficiaries of the press were unheralded junior Jamaal Trice and Alex Jacobson. Trice came up with 19 huge points on the bench, and Jacobson found the ball in his lap when the last man on the press rotated to help. He converted 8 of 11 shot attempts for 17 points.
Trice and David Wear were the game leading rebounders with 7 boards a piece.
Liberty Tech was paced by Murray State signee Jewaun Long's 18 points.
Devon Jones and Josh Sain continued their strong play hitting for 15 and 14 respectively.
Third Place Game- Lake Howell (Fla.) High School 87, Helen Cox (La.) High School 74
The three headed monster of Nick Calathes, Chandler Parsons and Joey Rodriguez was just too much for Greg Monroe and company. Scoring every Lake Howell point in the game, Parsons led with 35, Calathes next with 31 and Rodriguez rounded it out with 21. All three shot over 50 percent. Calathes and Parsons both led in assists with 4 each and Parsons had 3 assists. Calathes also registered a remarkable 9 steals, which are an indication of his off the charts basketball IQ and deceptive speed despite not being a vertical athlete.
Without even being the focal point of the Helen Cox guard oriented attack, Monroe put up impressive numbers once again with 22 points and 9 rebounds. He shot 9 of 13 from the field and 4 of 5 from the free throw line. He also was credited with 2 assists and 3 blocks, which in reality was probably more like 6 or 7. Junior guard Calvin Thompson put in 20 points for Helen Cox.
Rivals.com will have more on Monroe later, but the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2008 talked down the speculation that it is a two horse race between Duke and LSU to land him. He did say that Duke, LSU, North Carolina, Louisville, Kentucky, Florida, Texas and USC are the schools that standout in their pursuit of him.
Lincoln (N.Y.) High School 76, St. Mary's (Ariz.) High School 58
Lance Stephenson- How about this stat line- 39 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 assists and no turnovers. And it only gets better. The 39 points came on 16 of 23 shooting from the field, 3 of 5 from the arc and 4 of 5 from the line.
Stephenson played like a big time wing prospect, taking what the defense game him but physically imposing his will when it was there. He scored from all three levels and played a competitively efficient game.
Jerryd Bayless- Sort of on an island without a lot of support from his teammates, Bayless ground his way to 22 points on 6 of 13 shooting. He went 0 from 3 from three and hit 10 of his 11 free throw attempts. Bayless also managed 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists.
Blanche Ely (Fla.) High School 96, Arlington Country Day (Fla.) High School 72
Kenny Boynton- Arlington Country Day was at such a loss for stopping Boynton, they even resorted to guarding him with post player A.J. Stewart. With Byonton's game being primarily centered around his pull up jumper from three, Stewart was actually the most effective defender on him of the night.
So here are the numbers: Boynton put up a 2006 City of Palms Classic high point total of 45 points. He hit 10 of 17 three-pointers primarily off the dribble with a hand in his face. Overall he was 15 of 30 from the field and added 5 of 8 from the line. With his focus on putting the ball in the hole, Boynton did not register an assist for the game.
A.J. Stewart- It was a frustrating night for the Kentucky signee. He hit 5 of 13 shots from the field with several of those misses being at point blank range. Stewart ended up with 10 points and 7 rebounds.
Devon Lamb- The undersized wing athlete plays with a lot of heart. Once again he led his team in points and rebounds with 26 and 12 respectively. Mid-majors definitely need to look into this prospect.
Schenely (Pa.) High School 79, Ft. Myers (Fla.) 69
D.J. Kennedy- The athletic and versatile wing player played at a high level throughout the classic. He was a playmaker against Nick Calathes's Lake Howell team, held Lance Stephenson down when he guarded him and ended the week with a 22 point, 7 rebound and 3 assist performance against Ft. Myers (Fla.) High School. Known more for his playmaking than his shooting prowess, Kennedy made 6 of 11 shots, including 2 of 4 from three and 8 of 9 from the line.
Playing like a high-major prospect, Kennedy asserted after his game Friday that he is in great shape academically and held off from signing in the fall because he was not being recruited at the level he was looking for. Presently, he is only hearing from St. Louis and getting mail from Florida.
DeJuan Blair- As he did against the thin Lake Howell frontline earlier in the classic, Blair used his size to impose his will on Ft. Myers High. On 11 of 17 shooting, Blair scored 25 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, had 5 blocks and handed out 3 assists to 5 turnovers.
An old school back to the basket player, Blair does his damage within 5-feet of the basket, scoring on powerful spin moves and snagging offensive rebounds with his sure hands. Limited as a passer and defender, Blair, nonetheless, has a niche as a productive player around the basket.
Lance Kearse- With the need to take it to the rim to score effectively, Kearse had a little trouble scoring against Blair's big body. He still managed 20 points on 6 of 15 shooting from the field and 6 of 9 shooting from the line, but only grabbed 4 rebounds.
Charlotte (Fla.) High School 67, Eisenhower (Ill.) High School 64
Lewis Jackson- The diminutive point guard did not play up to his four-star rating on Friday. Reluctant to shoot from outside and unable to penetrate effectively in the half court offense, Jackson did his damage getting into the lane in the open court transition game. Jackson finished with 16 points on 5 of 15 shooting from the field which included 0 of 4 from three. He did hit all of his 6 free throw attempts, had 5 rebounds and dished out 3 assists to 3 turnovers.
Dago Pena- The best thing about the wiry and athletic Pena is his ability to guard a variety of positions including the point guard position. He did a nice job guarding Kenny Boynton earlier in the classic and was success Friday when matched up against Lewis Jackson.
Offensively, Pena had an off game Friday, scoring 6 points on 3 of 7 shooting. Slippery with the ball for a wing player, Pena does have the ability to score and pass in the mid-range.
Interest in Pena is growing as Miami and Pittsburgh have extended offers according to Pena.
American Christian (Pa.) High School 76, Pace (Fla.) High School 65
Tyreke Evans- A much more assertive force on Friday, Evans worked his way to 37 points on 13 of 22 shot attempts. Evans attempted 8 three-pointers, making 3, but he worked his way into the mid-range more consistently and used his length and touch to finish plays.
Louisville was in the house checking Evans out.
Ray Shipman- The athletic wing struggled against American Christian. He managed 14 points on 4 of 15 shooting from the field. He also grabbed 5 rebounds but turned the ball over 5 times.
Rakeem Buckles- The best prospect on the Pace squad, Buckles, a long 6-foot-6 sophomore who appears to still be growing, has some skills around the basket and skills handling the basketball. The high-major prospect scored 11 points on 2 of 4 shooting from the field and 7 of 8 shooting from the line. He also grabbed a game high 10 rebounds and only turned the ball over 1 time.