We feature the top two games of the day from the first round of the 2012 Naples Holiday Shootout. North Gwinnett vs Marist and Whitney Young vs Tucker. Watch Linnea Harper, Lexi Brown, Peyton Whitted and more top players ball out!
NAPLES, Fla. – The top teams flexed their muscles during the opening day of competition in the 14th Annual Naples Holiday Shootout in Florida Thursday. Three out of the four nationally ranked girls' high-school basketball teams participating in the championship bracket advanced -- No. 2 Whitney Young, the reigning tournament champion, No. 3 Science Hill and No. 19 North Gwinnett all advanced while No. 10 Dreher fell to Cardinal O'Hara, which, though currently unranked, traditionally fields strong teams.
Whitney Young 49, Tucker 38
Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.), the 2011 Naples Holiday Shootout Champion, returned to Florida to defend its title -- a year older and wiser and with a state championship now under its belt. The Dolphins finished the 2012 season with a perfect 34-0 record, and by the time they arrived in Naples for this year's tourney, they had extended their win streak to 43 games.
The Dolphins, who have been beating teams by an average of 34 points this season, got a bit of a wake-up call from the young and athletic Tucker Lady Tigers (Tucker, Ga.). After three quarters, Tucker trailed by just eight, and the Tigers cut the lead to five when junior guard Nuba Jackson hit a three-pointer to open the fourth quarter. But Whitney Young managed to outscored Tucker, 11-8, in the final frame to finish with the 49-38 win.
Whitney Young could have put the game away much sooner, but they shot a dismal 31 percent from the free-throw line, hitting just six-of-19 attempts. Linnae Harper, ranked No. 7 in the Full Court Fresh 50, went just four-of-10 from the charity stripe, but the Kentucky commit made up for it with a game-high 26 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and two assists.
The Lady Tigers, who were led by Jackson and Tori Robinson with 11 points, shouldn’t hang their heads about this loss: Tucker held the Dolphin offense, which averages 74 points per game, to just 49 -- no easy feat.
North Gwinnett 69, Marist 42
North Gwinnett (Suwanee, Ga.) and Marist (Chicago, Ill.) had a lot of similarities headed into today’s matchup. Both are veteran squads that made it to deep into their respective state tournaments last year and are poised to have similar success this season.
But only one team had Lexi Brown, and the 5-9 North Gwinnett guard, ranked No. 13 in the Full Court Fresh 50, hit four three-pointers and put up a game-high 22 points, plus seven assists. Still, it would be foolish to consider this team a one-horse show. The Bulldogs proved they have one of the most balanced teams in the nation, finishing with four players in double figures. Peyton Whitted posted a double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds, Stephanie Amichia also doubled up with 10 points and 12 rebounds and Joshlyn Belcher added 14 points and four assists.
North Gwinnett held Marist scoreless for the first four minutes of the second, while scoring 14 points of their own, to jump ahead 35-15 at the break. In the second half, Penn State-bound Whitted lit up the scoreboard with 13 of her 17 points in the game, and then the Bulldogs then closed out the game with a 16-5 run in the fourth for the decisive 69-42 win. Je’ Taun Rouse led the Red Hawks with 18 points.
Science Hill 58, McDonogh 43
After losing to Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) last weekend, No. 3 ranked Science Hill bounced back against McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) in the first round of the Naples Holiday Shootout with a 58-43 win. It was a fairly close game until a 17-7 third quarter run by the Hilltoppers, led by six points from Gabby Lyon. Science Hill doesn’t have a star player, but what they do have is a veteran squad that shares the wealth. The team shot 60 percent from the field and five-out-of-11 players on their roster scored eight points or more. Maya Wynn paced McDonogh with 12 points and Dajah Logan added 10.
#10 Dajah Jenkins of Science Hill drives past #33 Kiersten Martin of McDonogh. (Photo by Kelly Kline)
Cardinal O’Hara 46, Dreher 32
Cardinal O’Hara (Springfield, Penn.) may not be nationally ranked coming into this tournament, but they showed they knew how to play defense. Cardinal O'Hara controlled the pace of the game and never let 10th ranked Dreher (Columbia, S.C.) find an offensive flow. The well-disciplined Lions repeatedly worked through their offense until a high-percentage shot was open and if they didn’t make a basket it was because the Blue Devils committed the foul. Senior Shanice Johnson led Cardinal O’Hara with 12 points and Lisa Mintzer added 11 points in the low-scoring affair. Junior Kaydra Duckett, ranked No. 26 in the 2014 Full Court Fresh 50, paced Dreher with 11 points.
Hathaway Brown 58, Warren Easton 52 (OT)
In perhaps the most entertaining game of the day, Hathaway Brown (Shaker Heights, Ohio) and Warren Easton (New Orleans, La.) exchanged the lead multiple times throughout the first half. Hathaway managed to get some separation when they hit two three-pointers and drew a charge to close out the opening half for the slight 29-23 lead at the break.
Warren Easton trailed by eight points or less in the second half and repeatedly threatened to take the lead from the Blazers. The Eagles broke through when senior Jessica Edwards had two steals including one with .24 seconds in the game to pull within one point of Hathaway Brown at 49-48. Then with three seconds remaining in regulation, Lawriell Wilson drained a baseline runner that tied the game at 50-50 and forced overtime. Wilson led Warren Easton with 19 points and five steals.
However, Hathaway Brown (Shaker Heights, Ohio), which has won four straight Ohio State Championships, was not rattled the by rally and outscored the Eagles 8-2 in overtime to escape with the 58-52 victory.
The difference in the game came on the boards, Hathaway Brown out rebounded Warren Easton 36-25. Cornell signee, Nia Marshall led the Blazers with 26 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots, Princeton-bound Vanessa Smith added 12.
Edgewater 61, Dwyer 59
Haley Clark sank two free throws in the final seconds to help lift Edgewater (Orlando, Fla.) to a 61-59 win over Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) in the opening game of the tournament. The Eagles held 6-5 center Kai James to two points and were paced by Nyla Shuler with 22 points and Haley Clark with 19. Keyanna Harris and Ayanna Holmes both put up 15 for Dwyer.
Troy 56, Center Pointe 15
Troy (Fullerton, Calif.) made lightwork of Center Pointe (Birmingham, Ala.) by holding the Eagles to five points in the first half. The Warriors shot 55 percent from the field behind Briana Roberson, who put up a game-high 16 points. Troy has three division one commits in Roberson (Stanford) , Gabby Hanson (Oregon State) and Alecia Dimas (Denver).
First Baptist Academy 48, Barron Collier 37
Host school Barron Collier (Naples, Fla.) fell in the first round to crosstown rival First Baptist Academy (Naples, Fla.). Alli Emerson dropped 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to guide the Lions past the Cougars.
Beach Bash Scores
Lely 41, Island Coast 38
Gateway 56, Fort Myers 43