December 30, 2007

Houston vs. The Nation: Another huge upset

HOUSTON - Just when it seemed as though the Houston vs. The Nation tournament had seen its biggest upset after Cy Springs knocked off Montverde Academy on Friday, The Jack Yates Lions pulled the weekend double not only beating Oak Hill on Friday, but following the big win up with an upset of No. 1 St. Patrick's 66-60 Saturday night. After the last two days of upsets and action, it's crystal clear that the Houston vs. The Nation tournament exceeded any expectations bestowed upon it.

Upset city once again

The Jack Yates Lions took down Oak Hill 82-80 on Friday night in a game that was nothing short of thrilling and heart stopping. On Saturday, the Lions had the chance to one up their own performance from less than 24 hours prior against No. 1 St. Patrick's.

Surely the Houston area team couldn't make national news again against a St. Patrick's team led by Dexter Strickland and Quintrell Thomas could they?

Jack Yates proved to be anything but a one-trick pony on Saturday night taking down previously unbeaten St. Patrick's 66-60 in a game in which Yates controlled the tempo from the start grabbed hold of the game nearing the end of the third quarter.

Jack Yates was again led by future Baylor Bear Anthony Jones, who scored a game high 25 points. Jones knocked down eight of 10 shots from the field, including three of four from three-point land often times working on an isolation match-up with Kansas bound Thomas. Jones used his length and ability to put the ball on the floor to his advantage the entire game, pulling up for a 21-footer from the top of the key as well as scoring on a pair of straight line drives down the middle of the lane.

Jones added four blocked shots on the defensive end as well as three assists in the contest.

St. Patrick's was led by Thomas, who scored a team high 22 points and pulled down 13 rebounds.

While Jones had the skill advantage in the match-up with Thomas, the future Kansas Jayhawk had the strength advantage over Jones and abused the future Big 12 foe all night in the paint. Thomas pulled down 10 offensive rebounds and had his way in the paint throwing down a handful of dunks in traffic.

Strickland put together a solid all around game despite the Lions continuously trapping and running a quick double team at the 6-3 junior to get the ball out of his hands. In a game in which Yates wasn't going to allow Strickland to beat them making plays with the ball in the half court, the five-star prospect flashed his game changing speed in transition as he did Friday night. Out of all of the talented players that took the court at the Aldine Campbell Center the last three days, Strickland takes home the award for fastest end line to end line.

While immensely talented, Strickland did fade in the closing minutes of a tight game. When St. Patrick's needed their best player to step up, the junior appeared willing to swing the ball when being defended man to man instead of attacking in a late game situation with his team down two possessions.

Strickland attempted just one jump shot in the game in the half court, miss firing on a three-pointer in the closing minute.

Strickland finished the game with 13 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Oak Hill leaves Houston with a split

After losing on Friday night 82-80, Oak Hill entered Saturday night in must win mode not wanting to board a plane headed home winless on the weekend and got the job done beating Houston Madison 108-88. Future Arizona guard Brandon Jennings, who engaged in a little smack talk with a couple of Houston are patrons in stands after being heckled, overcame a cold start to score a game-high 36 points and dish out seven assists.

Jennings, like Strickland, was terrific in transition out racing would be defenders down the court leading to several finishes that drew oohs and aahs from the crowd.

Jennings received plenty of help from teammate Keith Gallon. The 6-9, 290-pound junior converted 12 of 19 field goals, a handful on offensive rebounds, scoring 24 points to go with 15 caroms. Gallon, blessed with very good feet for a big man, successfully used a six inch height advantage to dominate the much smaller Madison squad.

For Madison, junior point guard Tommy Mason-Griffin appeared at times to be a one-man team as Madison played without 6-2 jumping jack Joe Lawson who suffered a knee injury Friday night in a loss to St. Patrick's. The LSU commit scored 36 points, pulled down seven rebounds and dished out five assists on the night. Whether it be a no-look pass through the lane, an ultra quick crossover or a pull up three over the arm of an outstretched Warrior defender, Mason-Griffin drew plenty of praise from the partisan crowd.

No. 2 Montverde Academy returns to Florida winless

Montverde Academy found the Houston vs. The Nation tournament to be a humbling experience. After having their 40-plus game winning streak snapped on Friday at the hands of Cy Springs, Saturday didn't get any better as Klein Collins defeated the Orlando area team 45-43.

Friday night, Montverde Academy lost to a hot shooting Cy Springs team led by Phillip McDonald and Erik Williams. On Saturday, the Eagles lost due to a fourth quarter scoring drought that included a stretch of one of eight from the free throw line. The nation's No. 2 ranked team managed just a single point in the final eight minutes of the game.

Future Texas A&M point guard Dashan Harris rebounded from a sub par performance on Friday with a solid first half Saturday, but his free throw woes proved costly in the fourth quarter. Harris used his quickness and active hands in the first half to causing fits for Klein Collins, scoring 12 points and recording a pair of steals.

After being held scoreless in the third quarter, the
5-11 guard began to attack in the fourth quarter drawing fouls on Klein Collins big men and guards.

Harris couldn't take advantage, converting just one of six free throws in the last five minutes of the game.

Harris' teammate Marcus Capers didn't enjoy the same production on the offensive end Saturday as the night before, but again showed why he is a player that has a chance to be very good in the Pac-10. The future Washington State guard drew the assignment of defending Klein Collins and future Gonzaga point guard Demetri Goodson and passed with flying colors using his combination of length and ability to slide laterally to limit the talented Houston area point guard.

While Capers did a good job of keeping the tough-minded Goodson out of the paint, the 5-11 point guard ran his team to near perfection. Goodson always seemingly makes the smart pass and the correct pass giving his teammates high-percentage looks at the basket and Saturday night was no different.

With Montverde Academy possessing a huge size advantage on the interior, Goodson went into drive and kick mode setting up teammates for numerous open looks on the perimeter. Klein Collins 6-4 senior wing Derek Craig took full advantage of the catch and shoot opportunities knocking down four from downtown and a pair in the mid-range on his way to a game high 20 points.

On press row
College coaches from the likes of North Carolina, Souther California, LSU, Iowa State, TCU and Rice among others were in attendance.

Saturday's results
Aldine High School (46) vs. Bellaire High School (59)
Kingwood High School (60) vs. Smiley High School (55)
Cy Springs High School (67) vs. St. Thomas High School (63)
St. Pius X High School (51) vs. DeLaSalle High School (43)
Hastings (38) vs. Kingwood (47)
Wheatley High School (82) vs. Albany Academy (53)
Klein Collins High School (45) vs. Montverde Academy (43)
Yates High School (66) vs. St. Patrick High School (60)
Madison High School (88) vs. Oak Hill Academy (108)



 

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