With American Christian Academy (Aston, PA) having to play without their star player in top 5 nationally ranked Tyreke Evans, Lamont "Momo" Jones gladly took the reins
and gave his hometown crowd quite a show, leading his team to a 83-72 victory over St. Thomas More of Oakdale, Connecticut in the Big Apple Invitational's final and marquee game Monday night at a packed Baruch College in Manhattan, NY.
Evans was out due not receiving medical clearance from a concussion suffered earlier last week in during a game. Nevertheless, the Louisville bound 6'3" junior shooting guard led the way for ACA, scoring 29 points on 10-for-23 shooting to go along with his lockdown defense en route to being named game MVP. However, Jones wasn't the only star shining Monday as St. Thomas More senior forward and Indiana commit Devin Ebanks filled up the stat sheet for the Chancellors with 31 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks. The 6'8" multitalented stud wowed the crowd with his great all around game while scoring both inside and out, including an alley-oop dunk and two three pointers.
Ebanks didn't get much help beyond frontcourt mate T.J. Robinson's 16 points and 11 boards though, and St. Thomas More had no answer for ACA's talented guards. ACA guard Jansy Cruz came off the bench for a big game, finishing with 18 points and four steals. Starting point guard Jeremiah Kelly, who is headed to DePaul in the fall, also had a nice game for American Christian as he added 11 points and controlled the tempo for most of the game.
While the game was tight early on, St. Thomas More seemed like their size would give American Christian trouble as they scored inside often.
However, ACA head coach Tony Bergeron put his team in a full court man press that caused numerous turnovers and easy lay-ups in transition. The Chancellors had no answer for the press committing an awful 35 turnovers for the game, including 18 steals by ACA.
American Christian fired three pointers freely in the first half against the Chancellor's 2-3 zone, but connected on only 6-of-21. They began to take it to the basket with more frequency and with greater success as the game wore on. Jones was especially good driving the lane when he wanted to, drawing multiple fouls to get to the line. Free throws weren't ACA's strength though, as they made only 46.9% (15-32) from the line.
St. Thomas More cut a 46-39 halftime deficit to only three points as they made it a 51-48 game on a Ebanks three with 12:40 to go. That would be as close as they would get for the rest of them game as American Christian quickly answered with back to back steals and lay-ups by Cruz and Joshua Spivey. Jones reentered the game at 11:23 after sitting a while with foul trouble and immediately made an impact scoring 8 points in two minutes during a 13-2 ACA run that put them up 64-50 with 9:40 remaining.
This was Jones first game back in New York City since he transferred from NYC hoops #1 ranked Rice High in the summer. Many would wonder how Jones would fare in his first year with American Christian. It seems like he is doing just fine.
"It's more than I expected," said Jones. "It's been great. Coming out here has made me a better person and a better player. It's been a great transition."
When asked if he still keeps in touch with his former Rice teammates, Jones said of course he does since they have basically grown up together.
"We're like brothers," he said of such players like Dorvell Scott and Kemba Walker. "I definitely keep in touch. I love those guys and wish them only the best.
Jones was happy to get to play in front of his hometown again, and they seemed pleased as well.
"I wanted to mix it up at home and give the crowd a good show," he said. "I wanted to show that I can do it all.
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