Rivals.com's Mid-Atlantic Hoops Tour stopped in Elizabeth, NJ this past weekend for the Hoop Group's Tip-Off Classic. New Jersey kicked off it's high school hoops season on Friday evening, so Saturday's action was the first game of the year for many of the teams participating in the 5 game event.
Unsigned 5-foot-11 senior guard Terence Grier and his 11 first quarter points helped Cranford take a big early lead, and they never trailed, beating Neptune 66-56 in the first game of the Tip-Off Classic. Grier and 5-foot-10 senior sniper David Snyder led Cranford to a 9 point lead at the half. However, 5-foot-9 sophomore guard Kevin Owens led a third quarter Neptune rally that got them to within 6. Cranford then increased the defensive pressure and coasted to an easy 10 point win.
Grier finished with 28 points, 7 rebounds, 7 steals, and 3 assists. He is a superb athlete and better than average ballhandler. However, he was 0-4 from beyond the arc, and terrible at the free throw line. Snyder added 17 points in the win.
Owens, the step-brother of standout Louisville guard Taquan Dean, had 21 points and 3 assists for Neptune. 6-foot-7 260 pound center Allen Dean had 14 points and 16 rebounds in the loss.
St. Joseph's Montvale 61
St. Joseph's Montvale used a balanced perimeter scoring attach to take a 15 point lead into the break, and Rutgers signee Gerald Inman took over in the second half to lead them to a 61-42 win over Montclair. Montclair went on a 7-0 run to get to within 8 at the beginning of the third quarter, but Inman had all of the answers for St. Joseph's.
Inman only had 6 at the half, but finished the game with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Rutgers' football recruits, Devin and Jason McCourty combined for 15 points in the win.
6-foot-4 sophomore wing James Lee led Montclair with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Lee, who is the brother of St. Joseph's signee Jordan Fowler, played hard from start to finish and is definitely one to watch in the class of 2007.
St. Benedict's 78
5-foot-11 junior guard David Cubillan was hot from the perimeter early in the game and powerful St. Benedict's never trailed an overmatched Colonia squad on their way to a 78-58 win. Stonehill College signee 6-foot-7 Nicholas Smith had the hot hand for Colonia throughout the game and they actually got to within 4 in the third quarter, but 6-foot-8 junior Lance Thomas led a tremendous 4th quarter charge to put the game away for the Grey Bees.
Thomas finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds for St. Benedict's. Cubillan and 6-foot-5 sophomore Corey Stokes each had 17 points, and 6-foot senior guard Eric Moore added 13 points.
Smith had 23 points and 8 rebounds for Colonia and showed everyone that he is a legitimate Division I quality player, despite signing with Division II Stonehill. Talented sophomore PG Zack Rosen struggled mightily here against a bigger and stronger St. Benedict's backcourt, finishing with just 5 points and 4 assists.
Bloomfield Tech 55
Bloomfield Tech jumped out to a 33-24 lead at the half, and seemed to have things well in hand, but some quick fouls put their two star juniors, 6-foot-9 Casiem Drummond and 6-foot-6 Desean Butler, on the bench early in the 3rd quarter with 4 apiece. Raritan and coach Sean Devaney then showed a tremendous amount of patience and execution to whittle away at the lead and finally take a 48-47 advantage heading into the final period. Both Butler and Drummond re-entered the game in the 4th quarter, but Drummond quickly fouled out, and juniors Dave Lonnay and Qa'Raan Calhoun expanded the Rockets' lead to win going away 66-55.
Calhoun and 5-foot-11 Boston University signee Marques Johnson each had 17 points for Raritan. Lonnay added 13 points in the win, including a three to give Raritan their first lead, and another three to give them a 7 point lead late in the 4th, and essentially put the game away
Butler led Bloomfield Tech with 16 points. Sophomore guard Rashon Dwight had 12 points and Drummond finished with 9 points and 9 rebounds.
Paterson Catholic 66
St.. Raymond's (N.Y.) 65
In what was by far the best game of the day, 6-foot-1 junior guard Ray Taylor from Paterson Catholic hit a 15' jumper from the right wing as time expired to give Paterson Catholic a 66-65 win over St. Raymond's from Bronx, NY. Paterson Catholic started strong, jumping out to a 20-12 lead in the 1st quarter behind the strong play of junior twins, Terrell and Jerrell Williams. St. John's signee Ricky Torres led a 2nd quarter St. Raymond's rally to tie the game at 31 going into the break. Torres and Fordham signee 6-foot-5 forward Chris Bethel continued to have the hot hand in the third quarter and St. Raymond's led 50-44 heading into the 4th quarter. 6-foot-5 junior forward Kimani Barrett was huge for Paterson Catholic down the stretch grabbing key rebounds and managing to score or get fouled nearly every time he touched the ball. He drew Paterson Catholic close and setup Taylor's late game heroics.
Barrett led Paterson Catholic with 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 assists. Taylor had 11 points, and 6-foot-7 forward Terrell Williams added 9 points and 4 assists.
Torres had 24 points and 5 rebounds to lead St. Raymonds. Bethel added 15 points and 6-foot senior guard Rich Jackson had 9 points.
College coaches in the building: Larry DeSimpelare from Rutgers, Fred Hill from Villanova, Tom Moore from Connecticut, and head coach Norm Roberts along with assistant Chris Casey from St. John's were in the house watching Lance Thomas. DeSimpelare also had to be impressed with Rutgers signee Gerald Inman who went for 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Hill was also watching Villanova signee Frank Tchuisi from St. Benedict's and Grey Bees' sophomore Corey Stokes, as well as Cranford guard Terence Grier. Boston University sent assistants Jason Williford and Orlando Vandross to watch 5-foot-11 signee Marques Johnson score 17 points and dish 4 assists in an upset win over Bloomfield Tech. Richmond assistant Gary DeCesare looked very impressed with the the play of 6-foot-6 junior forward Desean Butler from Bloomfield Tech. Other coaches spotted included Todd Billett and Dave Galloway from Monmouth, and Vin Parisi from Iona.
Grier told us that he had scholarship offers from Fairfield and Rutgers, and also was receiveing interest from Auburn, West Virginia, Villanova, and LaSalle.
Thomas gave us another list of schools that included Arizona, Duke, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, North Carolina, Texas, Maryland, Oklahoma State, Florida, Georgia, Rutgers, and Seton Hall. St. Benedict's improved to 4-0 on the season.
David Cubillan told us that Villanova, Rutgers, and DePaul are the three main schools recruiting him early. Cubillan, a native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, has been in the U.S. for just over a year, and is quickly learning english. He projects as a point guard in college.
Casiem Drummond said that St. John's leads Rutgers, Seton Hall, Wake Forest, Miami, Connecticut, and Cincinnati. The Red Storm are the only school on the list to put a scholarship on the table, and Drummond indicated that he was a heavy St. John's lean right now. However, he also said that a visit to Miami is a good possibility.
Desean Buter said that he holds scholarship offers from St. Joseph's and Richmond. Seton Hall, St. John's, Miami, Kansas, and Florida State are also involved. He said that Richmond would definitely be getting a campus visit in the near future, and he hoped to visit Kansas after he takes his SAT in March.
Qa'Rraan Calhoun, a 6-foot-8 215 pound senior wing forward will need a year of prep school, possibly at St. Thomas More next year. He said that he's being recruited heavilly by Arizona, Connecticut, Missouri, St. John's, and Virginia Tech. He's talking to Missouri about setting up a campus visit in the next month or two.