2017 Bass Pro Tournament of Champions
Springfield is once again high school basketball’s grandest stage.
The 2017 Bass Pro Tournament of Champions opened with an estimated crowd north of 7,000 fans at JQH Arena on Thursday night.
Blue chip prospect Marvin Bagley III of Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, California) scored 15 points for the Trailblazers in a 72-54 opening round win over Republic. The Tigers (11-3) narrowed the Sierra Canyon (13-1) lead as slim as 34-31 in the second half before the No. 10 team in the USA Today Super 25 Expert rankings ran away with the game.
Bagley acknowledged a Republic defense that gave local teams fits in the 2016 Greenwood Blue and Gold Tournament.
“It was hard to get it inside. They pack the middle pretty well as a team in their zone,” Bagley said. “We had to find other ways to score and get buckets.”
Sierra Canyon eventually found its way with outside shots.
“We knew that if we just kept playing, our run would come,” Bagley said.
Sierra Canyon finished second to Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Virginia) in the 2016 Tournament of Champions. Bagley didn’t get to play due to California transfer eligibility issues, and was anxious to take the court at JQH Arena.
“It means a lot. Last year was hard not being able to play with the team,” Bagley said. “Our only focus is winning. We’ve got one down, we’ve still got a couple more games to go.”
Sierra Canyon will play Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nevada) at 8 p.m. Friday in the second round. Findlay Prep defeated Madison Prep (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) 77-50 in the first game of the tournament.
Findlay Prep (19-1) led by just four points at halftime, but stretched its lead to 27 points by the final horn. Findlay Prep went 21-of-31 from the free throw line. P.J. Washington, a Kentucky commit, and Lamine Diane each scored 21 points for Findlay Prep.
Josh LeBlanc led the Chargers with 15 points.
Washington felt Findlay Prep picked up its pace on both ends of the floor to outrun Madison Prep to the win.
“I feel like if we run and play our game, we can beat anybody in the country,” Washington said. “We just got easy steals and easy layups.”
Washington expects three days of difficult basketball on the Pilots’ trip to Springfield.
“It’s going to be tough. We haven’t played Sierra Canyon this year, or Montverde or (Memphis) East, and they’re all top five teams so we’ve just got to bring it,” Washington said.
Washington is committed to play for University of Kentucky. Coach John Calipari was in attendance courtside at JQH Arena on Thursday night to watch Findlay Prep. Washington said he made his commitment with his professional career in mind.
“I feel like they are the easiest way to get to the NBA, and that’s what I want to do,” Washington said.
A tough night for the local teams continued with Kickapoo’s 74-40 loss to Montverde Academy (Montverde, Florida)
The No. 2-ranked team in the nation according to the USA Today Super 25 Expert poll used a full court press defense to disrupt Kickapoo’s offense for much of the opening round game.
“They sped us up, they made us play fast, they made us take some bad shots, quick shots,” Kickapoo coach Dick Rippee said. “It was a great experience to play against guys that are college-ready. They’ve got eight are nine guys that are college-ready to contribute right now.”
Four Eagles scored in double figures led by Rechon Black with 15 points.
Kickapoo’s two NCAA Division I basketball signees, Cameron Davis and Jared Ridder, combined for 29 of the Chiefs’ 40 total points. Ridder had 19 while Davis scored 10 points.
Rippee hopes the experience of playing Montverde will assist the Chiefs in making another run in Missouri’s Class 5 playoffs. Kickapoo finished second in the state tournament to reigning champion Chaminade in 2016.
“We’ve got a long ways to go as a team, but at the same time we’re not going to play anybody better than Montverde,” Rippee said.
Montverde will play the winner of Greenforest Academy (Decatur, Georgia) and Memphis East (Memphis, Tennessee) in the Tournament of Champions semifinals at 9:30 p.m. Friday. The preliminary game did not conclude by the time the News-Leader went to press. For a full update on the Tournament of Champions opening round and bracket, visit http://news-leader.com.
Check back throughout the night of Jan. 12 for live updates from JQH Arena as the Springfield News-Leader brings you courtside coverage of all four games. You can also follow along on Twitter at the News-Leader’s main sports account (@sgfsportsNL), or follow high school sports reporter Rance Burger (@RanceBurgerNL).
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All games at JQH Arena
Thursday, Jan. 12
Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nevada) 77, Madison Prep (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) 50 FINAL
Madison Prep 14-14-10-12—50
Findlay Prep 19-13-15-30—77
Madison Prep—Josh LeBlanc 15, Josh Anderson 15, Jharon Whitfield 11, Kobe Julien 10, Jamel Robinson 2
Findlay Prep—P.J. Washington 21, Lamine Diane 21, Reggie Chaney 10, Tadas Kararinas 10, Chris Giles 6, Justin Roberts 3, Ador Athuai 2, Tony Goodwin II 2, Jack Schwietz 2
5:24 p.m. Findlay Prep senior forward P.J. Washington scored all of his 11 first half points in the first quarter, and the Pilots led by as many as nine points. Madison Prep closed the gap before the break as Josh LeBlanc took charge and finished the half with 10 points for the Chargers.
6:08 p.m. Findlay Prep’s Lamine Diane scored seven points in the third quarter to bring his total for the game to 15 points. Findlay Prep stretched a four-point lead into nine with 8:00 to play.
6:28 p.m. Findlay Prep stretched its lead to 27 points by the final horn, taking advantage of Madison Prep’s comeback attempts and 21 points apiece from P.J. Washington and Lamine Diane.
Sierra Canyon 72, Republic 54
Sierra Canyon 20-14-19-19—72
Sierra Canyon—Marvin Bagley III 15, Cody Riley 13, Remy Martin 11, Michael Feinberg 11, Adam Seiko 8, Terrance McBride 8, Marcus Bagley 3, William Washington 3
Republic—Treydon Rackley 13, Mitchell Coiner 11, Ty Stevens 10, Caleb Singley 10, Cameron Doke 8, Devon Ward 2.
7:12 p.m. Someone forgot to tell the Republic Tigers that they were the heavy underdogs against the No. 10-ranked team in the USA Today Super 25 Expert poll, a national ranking system. The Tigers shot 4-of-8 from beyond the arc in the first half and were led by Cameron Doke’s eight points. Arizona State commit Remy Martin leads the Trailblazers with nine points at the break.
7:39 p.m. Sierra Canyon led 34-27 at halftime, and Republic cut the lead as slim as 34-31. University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari left at halftime and missed a strong run from the Trailblazers in the third quarter. Blue chip prospect Marvin Bagley III leads all scorers with 12 points.
7:58 p.m. The Sierra Canyon Trailblazers advance to meet Findlay Prep at 8 p.m. Friday in the championship semifinals. Republic will meet Madison Prep at 4:30 in the consolation bracket.
Montverde 74, Kickapoo 40
Montverde—Rechon Black 15, Marcus Carr 13, Rowan Barrett 12, Andrew Nembhard 12, Sandro Mamukelashvili 6, Grant Shepard 6, Cameron Healy 6, Jake Betlow 3, Akol Mawein 1
Kickapoo—Jared Ridder 19, Cameron Davis 10, Donyae McCaskill 3, Isaac Blakeslee 3, Mitch Closser 2, Tanner Oetting 2, Travis Vokolek 1.
8:33 p.m. The term “slow start” would put it mildly for both teams. The difference has been Rechon Black for Montverde, who has eight points and has made two 3-points. Kickapoo came out looking tense offensively and shot 1-of-9 from the floor.
9:00 p.m. Kickapoo senior forward Travis Vokolek picked up his fourth personal foul in just the 12th minute of the game. Vokolek walked to the Chiefs bench with 4:04 remaining in the second quarter.
9:19 p.m. Kickapoo has had a cold night shooting the basketball. The Chiefs are 11-of-32 from the floor and 5-of-18 shooting 3-pointers. Three Montverde players are in double figures in scoring: Rechon Black with 15 points, Marcus Carr with 13 points, and Rowan Barrett with 12 points. Kickapoo’s Jared Ridder led all scorers through three quarters with 17 points. The Springfield crowd is still cheering on Kickapoo.
9:33 p.m. Montverde’s full court press proved too much for Kickapoo to find any sort of offensive rhythm. The Eagles advance with a 74-40 win and will face either Memphis East or Greenforest Academy in the 9:30 p.m. semifinal on Friday.
Memphis East (Memphis, Tennessee) 63, Greenforest Christian Academy (Decatur, Georgia) 56
Memphis East 13-19-17-14—63
Greenforest— David Quimby 16, Ikey Obiagu 10, Justin Forrest 10, Abayomi Lyiola 9, Jandan Duggan 4, Michael Evans 2, Victor Enoh 2, Terrell Saunders 2, Mohammad Abdulsalam 1
Memphis East—Chandler Lawson 14, Jayden Hardaway 11, Antavion Collum 10, Alex Lomax 7, Nick Merriweather 7, T.J. Moss 6, Malcolm Dandridge 6, Radarious Washington 2.
10:06 p.m. Memphis East took a slim lead with Jayden Hardaway hitting a pair of 3-pointers for six points in the first quarter. Hardaway is the son of Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, a four-time NBA all-star, Memphis native, and volunteer coach of the state champion Memphis East Mustangs.
10:22 p.m. Jayden Hardaway now has nine points on three 3-pointers. He is tied for the lead in all scorers with Abayomi Iyiola of Greenforest Christian. Ikey Obiagu, a 7-foot center for the Eagles, logged an authoritative five blocks in the first half.
Obiagu is committed to play next year at Florida State.
The crowd has thinned since Kickapoo’s game against Montverde ended, but plenty of night owls are sticking around to watch the conclusion of the opening round of the 33rd Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.
10:51 p.m. Obiagu is now up to nine blocks. The bad news for the Eagles is that they still trail Memphis East by 13 points. Alex Lomax, a key component of Memphis East’s Tennessee state championship team from 2016, is up to eight assists.
The 5-foot-10 Lomax drove around the 7-foot Obiagu for a layup in the third quarter, in what was an early candidate for the most underrated and impressive play of the tournament.
Friday, Jan. 13
4:30 p.m. Consolation semifinal: Madison Prep vs. Republic
6 p.m. Consolation semifinal: Kickapoo vs. Greenforest
8 p.m. Championship semifinal: Findlay Prep vs. Sierra Canyon
9:30 p.m. Championship semifinal: Montverde Academy vs. Memphis East
Saturday, Jan. 14
2:30 p.m. Seventh place game
4 p.m. Fifth place game
6 p.m. Great Southern Bank Slam Dunk Contest
7 p.m. Third place game
9 p.m. Championship final