CHICAGO – The Bellflower (CA) St. John Bosco team never found much of a way to defend center Jahlil Okafor and guard Miles Reynolds of its Chicago Whitney Young counterpart late Saturday night in the finale of the seven-game Chicago Elite Classic.
As it turned out, however, Whitney Young didn’t have a viable way of defending the deep shooting of Braves’ sophomore forward Vance Jackson.
And it didn’t have much of an answer for the last-second heroics of St. John Bosco senior guard Daniel Hamilton, either.
Jackson’s five 3-point buckets and 19 points kept the team from Southern California from being, figuratively, escorted out of University of Illinois-Chicago Pavilion by the Dolphins and the inside-outside duo of the Duke-bound Okafor (24 points and 12 rebounds) and Reynolds (a game-high 25 points), who signed with Saint Louis last month.
But Hamilton, after taking an inbounds pass from Jackson near the SJB bench with 4.6 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, left Okafor and Reynolds as shocked and frustrated as the rest of the Whitney squad and most of the pro-hometowners in the building.
Hamilton, launching from near the top of the key, beat the buzzer by about a half-tic for the outcome-deciding 3-pointer in the Braves’ 62-59 victory.
The Braves were coming off back-to-back losses in the semifinals and third-place game of the Pacific Shores Tournament in Southern California during Thanksgiving Week.
The 3-pointer capped a 19-point, seven-rebound and four-assist effort by the 6-foot-7 Hamilton and brought an abrupt close to the day-long event.
Game No. 6 featured the day’s most awe-inspiring performance – 22 points, 20 rebounds and five blocked shots – by University of Kansas signee Cliff Alexander during his Chicago Curie squad’s 66-62 win against Las Vegas Bishop Gorman and its Class of 2015 touted posts Stephen Zimmerman and Chase Jeter.
With Hall of Fame members Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Rick Pitino of Louisville among those watching, Zimmerman and Jeter combined to snatch 22 rebounds but were held to a combined 16 points (while missing 17 of 24 shot attempts) – largely because of the defensive presence of Alexander.
Senior guard Noah Robotham hit six of 10 shots from behind the arc for a game-high 30 points to help keep the Gaels close at the end despite once falling behind by 15 points.
In the other games played Saturday:
*Chicago Simeon 76, Memphis Hamilton 60: Simeon busted up a close contest by outscoring Hamilton 29-10 in the third quarter and coasting the rest of the way.
Four Wolverines scored in double figures, led by reserve guard Jaycee Hillsman’s 17 points.
Sophomore Zack Norvell added 16 points, five rebounds and four assists while junior forward D.J. Williams – who recently committed to the University of Illinois – had 15 points and five rebounds.
Junior forward K.J. Lawson led Hamilton with 27 points but his teammates were a combined 11 of 32 from the floor.
*Lisle (IL) Benet Academy 55, Redondo Beach (CA) Redondo Union 46: The fourth-quarter jump shooting of Collin Pellettieri, Liam Nelligan and Colin Bonnett provided the Red Wings with the impetus to break open a tight contest throughout.
The Sea Hawks led by as many as four points early in the third quarter behind the play of seniors Terrell Carter (14 points and a game-high 14 rebounds) and Ian Fox (15 points).
But, while trying to force tempo with full-court pressure, their defenders couldn’t get to the jump shooters that often benefited from the passing of 6-9 Xavier-bound Sean O’Mara.
*Etiwanda (CA) 74, Chicago Heights Marion Catholic 68: The scoring balance and superior strength in the posts proved the difference as the Eagles held off the No. 2-ranked club in Illinois (by way of the Chicago Sun Times).
Kentucky-bound point guard Tyler Ulis, while being hounded by the defense of Dominick Alexander, scored 30 points despite missing all six of his attempts from behind the arc.
But that wasn’t enough to overcome the Eagles’ ability to pound the ball into Kenny Barnes (24 points) and Kameron Edwards (16), coupled with USC-bound Jordan McLaughlin’s penetration and jump shooting (17).
*Chicago St. Rita 69, Washington, DC Gonzaga 58: Senior Dominique Matthews tossed in 34 points from a wide variety of distances and angles to help St. Rita pull away in the second half.
Matthews is one of the better unsigned shooting guards in the prep class of 2014.
His brother, highly touted junior Charles Matthews, didn’t play because of injury.
*Normal (IL) University 62, Chicago Fenwick 57: Six-eight Keita Bates-Diop scored 21 points and the Ohio State-bound forward grabbed 10 rebounds while blocking six shots for the winners.