NASHVILLE, Tenn.- The NIKE Memorial Day Classic is down to the Final Four heading into Monday. Team Texas fell short to Xavier Henry and Athlete's First in the quarterfinals despite a Herculean effort by top ten prospect Willie Warren.
Athletes First 85, Team Texas 82
The buzz going into the game was the 26 point second half effort by Warren to get his team into quarterfinals. But in a quarterfinal showdown against Henry, the most impressive prospect in the event, Warren went off for 31 points in the 85-82 loss to Athlete's First.
Warren, who is playing a controlled and lethal style of basketball both at the point and the wing, scored at all three levels, including a monstrous dunk over Henry. Warren is also doing a fine job of finding his sharp shooting teammate Rotnei Clarke off his penetration. Clarke ended up with 16-points in the game, and his shooting ability drew Athlete's First out of its zone defense early in the game.
For Athlete's First, Henry was not too shabby either. A player with superstar written all over him, Henry pumped in 30 points with deep jumpers, offensive rebounding, post up moves and explosive drives to the basket. Not only has Henry been unstoppable as a scorer, he has also taken his defense and rebounding to another level.
Athlete's First also got a big supporting contribution of 23 points from Terrence Boyd.
New York Gauchos 81, Boo Williams 78
Boo Williams' one-two punch of Ed Davis and freshman point guard Kendall Marshall combined for 28 points and a large amount of rebounds and assists, but the full court pressure of the Gauchos dominated the last 30 seconds of the game, producing two lay ups in that time span to secure the win.
Jordan Theodore pumped in 20 points with four three-pointers as the game's leading scorer. Kemba Walker, who once again penetrated the lane at will, had 11 points. And four-star 2009 prospect Durand Scott went for 15 points.
The Gauchos will square off with Athlete's First in the semifinals.
Georgia Blazers 44, Team Final 41
Little point guard Andre Young was the big story of this game as he scored 21 of his teams 44 points.
Alabama Challenge jumped on Friends of Hoop early going up by as much as 20 points in the first half. Then the little scoring machine Isaiah Thomas got going and put up 27 points to spearhead a come from behind win. Post player Renado Parker also scored 24 points for Friends of Hoop.
Seattle Friends of Hoop will face the Georgia Blazers in the semifinals.
News from earlier action
In one of the marquee matchups of the day the Georgia Stars squared off with Boo Williams in a battle that included four five-star prospects. However, one of those five-star prospects didn't make it through the entire game. Tony Woods of Rome, Ga. was ejected in the fourth quarter for the Georgia Stars and his teammate Al-Farouq Aminu's 19 points weren't enough to steal a win from Boo Williams.
Five-star power forward Ed Davis led Boo Williams with 19 points and his frontline mate Ty Walker added 9 but Kendall Marshall's play proved to be the key for Boo Williams. The point guard ended the day with 11 points but his composure and command down the stretch allowed Boo Williams to hang on for a 66-55 win.
Rivals.com caught up with Davis after the game to talk about the timetable for his college decision and he claimed that a decision could come any day. Davis has narrowed his list down to North Carolina, Virginia and UConn and he says that though he could decide at any time, he will likely make an announcement around the time of the NIKE Peach Jam in July.
The Metro Hawks could have used five-star shooting guard Dexter Strickland in their 54-48 loss to the New Orleans Panthers. The fourth-rated prospect in the 2009 class was held out of the game due to a deep thigh bruise but he talked about his college choices following the loss.
Strickland's school list is Michigan State, Florida, North Carolina, Villanova and UConn with everyone but UConn already having an offer on the table. However, Strickland did make it clear who he is favoring.
"If I had to pick a school right now, I'd go to Michigan State," Strickland told Rivals.com.
Tyreke Evans played well against the SYF Players, scoring in 21 points as Team Final controlled the game throughout. Lance Goulbourne added 15 points for Team Final, who was able to hold off a late run by the Players and NC State commit Julius Mays.
In the second session of games, the Houston Hoops, who had already lost two games on Saturday, ran into a New York Gauchos team that was hot on a 10-game win streak. But on Sunday the Hoops came to play holding on for a 75-74 win. 2009 prospect Keith Gallon was a load inside for the Hoops and put in 13 points while controlling the boards. Already boasting offers from Baylor, Texas A&M and LSU, Gallon also has interest in Kansas and is still waiting for the Jayhawks to offer.
Five-star prospect Anthony Jones also added 13 points as well as some emphatic blocked shots but the key to the Hoops' win may have been the sharp shooting of Kevin Foster who sank six threes, all in the second half, in route to 20 points.
The Georgia Blazers handed the Howard Pulley Panthers a 74-61 loss on Sunday morning but the bigger story was the return of Xavier Gibson to the court. Gibson missed all of his high school season with a wrist injury and Sunday was his first appearance since the injury. Gibson looked strong in his return and shook off any signs of rust helping the Blazers with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
The star of Saturday's action, Xavier Henry, didn't need to shine quite as bright for his Athletes First squad to take a win on Sunday. Henry came out of the gates strong with a three-pointer and a put-back dunk early, but his 13 points proved to be more than enough as Athletes First cruised to an 85-44 win over the Arizona Stars. Oklahoma commit Kyle Hardrick dominated inside with 17 points and his presence led to some good outside opportunities for players like Nicci Combs who chipped in 13 points.
While Athletes First was cruising on one court, the Alabama Challenge and the St. Louis Eagles were battling for every point right next door. The Challenge ended up getting a hard-fought 69-66 win over the Eagles who were led by a smooth Scott Suggs. Suggs has narrowed his list of favorites to seven and they are all over the map. He lists Clemson, Missouri, Florida, Kansas, Illinois, Washington and Wisconsin as his top seven and claims that there is no clear leader. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard plans on making his college decision before his senior season and hopes to narrow his favorites down to three by the end of the summer.
Suggs' teammate John Brandenburg plans on making a decision in July on his college future. Brandenburg lists Missouri, Virginia, Stanford and Wisconsin as schools that have offered him but he also has interest in UCLA and Florida.
In the first session of afternoon games, Team Texas and Willie Warren worked hard to get a two-point win over Team Melo and Sean Mosley. Mosley put in 18 points for Team Melo and scored on a variety of slashes and jumpers of the dribble. He was countered in the first half by Warren's teammate Rotnei Clarke who beat a box and one to hit two big-time 3-pointers. Clarke proved that he isn't just a three-point shooter as well. He made some tough floaters in the second half and was able to draw and dish for some opportunities for teammates. Clarke finished with 17 points to lead Team Texas.
Offensively Warren was quiet for much of the game and never asserted himself against Team Melo's zone defense, but defensively Warren showed his ability to guard a number of positions and was able to hold Mosley in check whenever the two were matched up. Despite his limited offensive production, when the game was on the line Warren got the ball in his hands and made some big free-throws down the stretch to help secure the win.