Ft. Myers, Fla.-Greg Monroe had another outstanding performance at the City of Palms Classic on Thursday night. But his play was not enough to overcome the one-two punch of Mater Dei's Taylor King and Kamyron Brown.
Semifinal-Mater Dei (Calif.) High School 78, Helen Cox (La.) High School 67
It looked like Mater Dei (Calif.) High School would run away with an easy victory as they jumped out to a 15 point halftime led behind the red hot shooting of Taylor King, who had 20 points on 8 of 12 shooting in the first half.
In the second half, however, King cooled down as junior Justin Fariman held him to 3 of 11 shooting in the second half. King ended with 28 points but also brought down an impressive game high 13 rebounds. King's 28 points came on an array of three-pointers, low-post fade aways and offensive putbacks.
Fairman also scored 15 points for Helen Cox, whose surge back into the game in the second half was ignited by a Greg Monroe block from the weakside on a King fade away from the low post. At the time Helen Cox was down 11 points and proceeded to go on a seven point run to cut the lead to four in the third quarter.
From that point, Mater Dei maintained a small lead until Helen Cox took a one point lead with three minutes left in the game on a couple free-throws. On the pursuing possession for Mater Dei, Kamyron Brown challenged Monroe at the rim and converted a three-point play, which he then followed up with a steal and a break away layup to secure the win for Mater Dei. Brown finished with 17 points, making 9 of his 10 free throw attempts while dishing out 4 assists, collecting 4 steals and blocking a shot. As with most high risk players, along with the good comes the bad as Brown turned the ball over 7 times.
Although getting off to a slow start, Monroe, Rivals.com's No. 1 ranked prospect in the class of 2008, played an inspired second half finishing with 21 points on a variety of 13 shot attempts from inside the arc. Monroe also finished with 5 rebounds, 4 blocks and 4 steals.
Leading the way in the backcourt for Helen Cox, junior Calvin Thompson scored 16 points.
Semifinal-Liberty Tech (Tenn.) High School 78, Lake Howell (Fla.) High School 74
Upstart Liberty Tech continues its quest two win consecutive championships for Tennessee schools after Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy's championship last year.
Led by Nick Calathes's 18 first half points, Lake Howell controlled the first half going into the locker room up five points. Then Lake Howell point guard Joey Rodriguez went down with a sprained ankle late in the third quarter with Lake Howell still up five points. By the time he returned for the start of the fourth quarter, Liberty Tech was up by one and controlled the game before finishing it off in overtime.
After shooting 8 for 12 in the first half, Calathes finished the game 11 of 24 for 27 points but only hit 1 of 7 three-pointers, and one of those misses was at the end of regulation buzzer.
Chandler Parsons contributed with 16 points, but only hit 7 of 19 shots and went 1 of 5 from three. As a team, Lake Howell only hit 4 of 19 from deep. Parsons did have a game high 14 rebounds.
The go to guy for Lake Howell was Rodriguez, who had a height advantage against 5-foot-3 Liberty Tech point guard Anthony Sampson. Rodriguez, who is headed to VCU, hit 9 of 14 shots for 21 points.
Liberty Tech's Josh Sain had another strong game, scoring 20 points on 8 of 14 shooting which included 2 of 5 from three. Sain also had 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 3 steals.
Liberty Tech's post players Antwan Long and DeVon Jones had 21 and 20 points respectively. While Sampson dished out 11 assists.
Consolation Game-Lincoln (N.Y.) High School 75, Schenley (Pa.) High School 54
After a Herculean effort against Lake Howell High School Wednesday night, DeJuan Blair just couldn't get it going against Lincoln High School on Thursday night. With his feet just not moving as quickly as they did the night before, Blair picked up two fouls early in the game and struggled against foul trouble the entire game, playing only 16 minutes.
In those minutes, he managed 9 points on only 6 field goal attempts and grabbed 7 rebounds.
His teammate D.J. Kennedy lead Schenely in both scoring and rebounding with 20 points and 9 rebounds. The unsigned Kennedy has been active slashing to the basket and defending and rebounding throughout the event. He did a nice job defending Lance Stephenson.
Fighting some foul trouble himself, Stephenson scored 8 points on 4 of 13 shooting while failing to get to the free throw line. Physical and active when he wasn't worried about foul trouble, he also had 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.
A combo guard capable of running the point, Stephenson has been playing on the wing primarily for Lincoln and that is the way he prefers it.
"I can play the point, but I prefer to get the ball on the wing," said Stephenson. "Then I can size my man up and figure out how to score on him. When I play the point, I have to think pass more."
Although just a sophomore, Stephenson has begun to formulate some ideas regarding his recruitment. He listed North Carolina, Duke, Georgia Tech, Georgetown, Syracuse, Memphis, Pittsburgh, St. John's and Florida as schools of interest. Even though the Big East is his favorite conference, Stephenson's two leading schools are in the ACC.
"I'm looking at a lot of great schools, but North Carolina and Georgia Tech standout to me," he said. "I love their coaches and the players that have gone on to The League from those two schools.
"I really want to play on a good team that plays defense and has a good big man. I want to be surrounded by good players."
Stephenson was solid for his team, but the lead man for Lincoln was their Seton Hall bound big man Brandon Walters. He finished with game highs in points and rebounds with 24 and 10 respectively.
VCU has to be thrilled about the play of its 2007 recruits Joey Rodriguez and Lance Kearse. Putting up big numbers all week, Kearse scored 35 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in a tough loss to Arlington Country Day (Fla.) High School. Kearse put in an impressive 14 out of 18 shots.
His opponent A.J. Stewart couldn't stay out of foul trouble and only played 10 minutes, scoring 4 points and grabbing 2 rebounds.
Assistants from Louisville, Kentucky and North Carolina were the big hitters in the gym Thursday.