2017 Bass Pro Tournament of Champions: Day 2
For a second consecutive year, Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, California) will compete for the title in the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.
This time, the Trailblazers have a weapon they hope will protect them from heartbreak at the last second.
Sierra Canyon, the No. 10-ranked team in the USA Today Super 25 Expert poll, knocked off No. 3 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nevada) 76-47 Friday night in the semifinals of the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions at JQH Arena on the campus of Missouri State University in Springfield. Sierra Canyon fell to Oak Hill Academy 49-48 on a last second 3-pointer from Ty-Shon Alexander in the championship game of last year’s tournament.
However, the Trailblazers played the 2016 Tournament of Champions without Marvin Bagley III, the consensus No. 1-rated college basketball prospect in the nation in the Class of 2018. Bagley transferred from Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix, Arizona to Sierra Canyon prior to the 2016 tournament, but was declared ineligible to play for the 2015-2016.
He made up for lost time with 28 points and 14 rebounds Friday night against Findlay Prep.
“Last year was hard not being able to play with the team, but now I’m on the court with these guys and our only focus is winning,” Bagley said. “We’ve just got to keep playing and giving it 100 percent.”
College coaches are scrambling to land Bagley’s commitment, but the 6-foot-11 blue chipper is adamant about helping Sierra Canyon (14-1) pursue a California Open Division championship with some tournament and showcase wins along the way.
“I’m not worried about it. I’m not worried about college right now,” Bagley said. “I’m still a junior in high school. I’m trying to enjoy this year. You only go through this year once, you can’t get it back after that, so I’m not really looking forward to anything else right now but finishing this year and winning a championship with this team.”
Bagley narrowed his list of prospective college teams to six: Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, UCLA, Duke and Kentucky.
Arizona State signee Remy Martin scored 16 points in the win against Findlay Prep. Four members of the Trailblazers’ starting five played significant roles in last year’s Tournament of Champions runner-up squad.
“I’ve been playing with these guys for a long time now, since seventh grade, and adding Marvin was just adding a piece of the puzzle. He’s so easy to play with,” Martin said. “Everybody is so easy to play with and everybody knows their role, in a sense, and that’s hard to find in a high school team.”
The memories of the loss to Oak Hill still hang with Martin, and they serve as fuel.
“We’re here to win. We’re here to show that we shouldn’t have lost that last game (to Oak Hill),” Martin said. “We feel like we’re the best team in the country and nobody should be able to stay with us.”
Justin Roberts led Findlay Prep (19-2) with 15 points in the loss. His teammate Lamine Diane added 14 points.
Sierra Canyon will meet the winner of Memphis East (Memphis, Tennessee) in the Tournament of Champions final at 9 p.m. Saturday.
Memphis East advanced from the semifinal on a last second 3-pointer by junior guard Alex Lomax, who finished with 19 points. Lomax’s bomb at the buzzer allowed the Mustangs to win 59-56 to set up the championship tilt with Sierra Canyon.
The championship game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, California) 76, Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nevada) 47
At JQH Arena
Findlay Prep 5-18-10-14—47
Sierra Canyon 24-17-16-19—76
Findlay Prep—Justin Roberts 15, Lamine Diane 14, Jack Schwietz 6, P.J. Washington 4, Reggie Chaney 4, Chris Giles 2, Tadas Kararinas 2
Sierra Canyon—Marvin Bagley III 28, Remy Martin 16, Cody Riley 8, Terrance McBride 7, Joe Wallace 6, Michael Feinberg 4, Marcus Bagley 3, Adam Seiko 2, Hunter Bleeden 2
Memphis East (Memphis, Tennessee) 59, Montverde Academy (Montverde, Florida) 56
At JQH Arena
Memphis East 13-16-10-20—59
Memphis East— Alex Lomax 19, Chandler Lawson 13, Malcolm Dandridge 10, Antavion Collum 8, Jayden Hardaway 6, T.J. Moss 3
Montverde—Rowan Barrett 23, Rechon Black 12, Marcus Carr 9, Andrew Nembhard 6, Sean Mobley 4, Sandro Mamukelashvili 2.
Local teams to meet for seventh place
Kickapoo and Republic both took losses in the consolation semifinals to set up a meeting between the two local teams Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Republic managed to play its brand of ball control offense and stingy defense against 2016 Louisiana Class 2 state champion Madison Prep (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), but came up short with a 43-39 loss.
Tigers senior Ty Stevens connected on his first four 3-pointer attempts and put up 14 of his 16 points in the first half. Caleb Singley was a key factor in the second half, scoring 15 points in the game.
Madison Prep’s starting line of forwards stands 6-foot-5, 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6, which Tigers coach Trevyor Fisher said caused trouble for Republic when it came to driving the basket.
“You want to be aggressive and attack and get to the basket, and it just stinks when you go in there and there’s a 6-foot-7 big, long athlete waiting for you,” Fisher said.
Madison Prep (16-2) coach Jeff Jones said a key part of his game plan for Republic (11-3) involved working the ball inside on offense against a tight zone.
“We had a size advantage, so we tried to exploit that as much as we could,” Jones said. “It wore them down, and we kind of knew it would.”
Junior Kobe Julien, a 6-foot-5 forward, led the Chargers in scoring with 11 points, including a key pair of free throws in the final minute that sealed the win for Madison Prep. The Chargers went 34-4 in the 2015-2016 season, so an opening round loss to Findlay Prep came as a shock.
“When we lost, we were like catastrophic DEFCON Level 9,” Jones said.
While Republic put up a fight, Jones was happy for his players to pull off a win and advance to the tournament’s fifth-place game.
“Nothing helps erase a loss or ease the pain of a loss than to win the next day, so that was big for us to come out after losing a game like we lost (Thursday) and beat a team that’s a two-time state champion, a quality opponent.”
Madison Prep (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) 43, Republic (Missouri) 39
At JQH Arena, Springfield
Madison Prep 11-14-4-14—43
Republic—Ty Stevens 16, Caleb Singley 15, Treydon Rackley 4, Broc Smith 3, Cameron Doke 1
Madison Prep—Kobe Julien 11, Jharon Whitfield 10, Josh LeBlanc 6, Marcus Guss 6, Jamel Robinson 6, Josh Anderson 4.
Chiefs denied on big night for Blakeslee
Kickapoo held a three-point lead over Georgia Class A Private division state champion Greenforest (Decatur, Georgia) in the fourth quarter, but an 8-0 run for the Eagles created the separation needed for Greenforest to ultimately defeat the Chiefs 56-52.
Senior Justin Forrest led the Eagles with 18 points.
Isaac Blakeslee got Kickapoo off to a hot start with nine points in the first quarter. He sunk the first three 3-pointers he attempted. Blakeslee finished the game with 15 points.
“We’ve been challenging our guys,” Kickapoo coach Dick Rippee said. “We’ve got to have somebody else stepping in there, so we’re kind of looking for that guy and Blakeslee is certainly capable.”
Cameron Davis, signed to play basketball at the U.S. Naval Academy next year, scored 22 points for Kickapoo. Davis said Blakeslee was instrumental in Kickapoo’s ability to hang with Greenforest.
“Oh my. He is our X-factor, really. Whenever he plays well, that makes our team go,” Davis said of Blakeslee. “People can say whatever they want about me, Jared (Ridder) or the rest of our team. We have very talented guys, but whenever (Blakeslee) is playing well—I mean, he made diving plays on the floor and everything. He just affects the game in so many ways.”
Florida State commit Ikey Obiagu, a 7-foot native of Nigeria, had six points, 11 rebounds, and seven blocked shots for Greenforest. When he wasn’t blocking shots, Obiagu was at least forcing Kickapoo players to alter their angles to the basket.
“He’s a great player. There is a reason he is going to the ACC to play at Florida State,” Davis said. “I felt like we got good perimeter looks and we were knocking them down too, it was just at the very end we had some key turnovers and things like that. It wasn’t really much (Greenforest), it was more of us and that’s easily fixable.”
Greenforest and Madison Prep square off at 4 p.m. Saturday for fifth place and the chance to leave Springfield on an upbeat note.
Greenforest (Decatur, Georgia) 56, Kickapoo 52
At JQH Arena, Springfield
Greenforest—Justin Forrest 19, David Quimby 11, Jandan Duggan 6, Ikey Obiagu 6, Abayomi Lyiola 6, Victor Enoh 4, Michael Evans 2, Mohammad Abdulsalam 2
Kickapoo—Cameron Davis 22, Isaac Blakeslee 15, Jared Ridder 11, Corey Dye 2, Mitch Closser 2.