SPRINGFIELD, MA – The finale of Saturday’s action during the 16th Spalding HoopHall Classic was nationally televised and touted as a “showdown”, of sorts, between two of the elite big men in the high school senior class.
And DeAndre Ayton (Phoenix Hillcrest) and Mohammad Bamba (Westtown of Pennsylvania) did offer the crowd – those in Springfield College’s Blake Arena and those viewing on their flat screens or hand-held devices – an opportunity to watch the near-seven footers showcase their respective physical gifts.
But, ultimately, it was a couple of guys not named Ayton or Bamba who decided the outcome as Westtown outlasted Hillcrest, 66-54, in the last of six games played Saturday.
Six-foot-five Brandon Randolph – whose signing to a national letter of intent by the University of Arizona in November didn’t get the hoopla it deserved because of Ayton’s commitment to the Wildcats in the same month – scored 30 points, including 18 in the second half, to go with five assists and three steals for Westtown.
Westtown, which trailed by six points at intermission, also got 24 points, four rebounds and three assists from 6-7 junior Cameron Reddish.
Overall, Ayton had more impact on the game than did Bamba – although the latter was a key element as Westtown pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Ayton – the guy I believe is the No. 2 player in the senior class behind 6-9 Michael Porter of Seattle Nathan Hale – finished with 21 points (including three 3s) and eight rebounds.
Bamba, who supposedly has strong interest in signing with Duke or Kentucky this spring, finished strongly and totaled 13 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots.
In the other five games played Saturday:
Cambridge (MA) Rindge and Latin 46, Santa Monica (CA) Crossroads 36: Five-nine Kareem Octavien scored 14 points while 6-8 Dimon Carrigan had six points and 11 rebounds for the winner in the offensively challenged affair.
The team from Southern California got 14 points and 10 rebounds from Arizona-bound forward Ira Lee, who has only been playing for a couple of weeks following late-summer shoulder surgery.
Shareef O’Neal, the 6-8 son of Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, missed all 10 of his shots from the field while hitting five of six free throws and grabbing six rebounds in the defeat.
Hyattsville (MD) DeMatha 73, Las Vegas Bishop Gorman 66: Senior D.J. Harvey, who signed with Notre Dame in November, scored 28 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the Stags pulled away from the Gaels down the stretch.
Bishop Gorman, trailing by 12 early in the fourth quarter, went on an 11-0 run but could never catch the Stags. The Gaels missed at least six close-in attempts down the stretch that might have changed the course of the outcome.
Charles (aka “Chuck”) O’Bannon, who committed to USC a few weeks ago, led the Gaels with 27 points.
West Haven (CT) Notre Dame 74, NYC Archbishop Molloy 66: Georgetown-bound guard Tremont Waters (29 points, including seven 3s, six assists and only one turnover) was terrific from start to finish while leading his team to the wire-to-wire victory.
Sophomore Cole (the son of Greg) Anthony led the losers with 29 points while 7-foot junior Moses Brown (12 points and seven rebounds) was hampered by early foul issues that rendered him largely ineffectual throughout.
Jersey City (NJ) Hudson Catholic 62, San Antonio St. Anthony 53: Six-ten sophomore Charles Bassey went for 17 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots but it was only enough to keep his team in the “close throughout” category in the eventual loss.
Hudson Catholic has three highly touted juniors and two of them, guards Jahvon Quinterly (25 points and five assists) and Luther Muhammad (24 points) combined for 49 points while the third, 6-8 Louis King (four points, nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals), did an admirable job of trying to check Bassey most of the way.
Roselle (NJ) Catholic 96, Hartford (CT) Weaver 76: Junior post Nazeron Reid was the dominant presence on the floor from start to finish in the first game of the day, with 24 points, nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block.
Temple-bound 6-4 wing Nathaniel Pierre-Louis led the winners with 27 points while his sophomore brother, point guard Josh Pierre-Louis, chipped in with 11 points and four assists.
Five-eight senior Jaecee Martin scored 23 points for Weaver.