CARMEL, IND. – The hometown hero delivered Wednesday in the American Family Insurance High School Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships at Carmel High School in suburban Indianapolis.
Carmel senior Ryan Cline started the night by winning the boys 3-point competition, with 22 points in the final round to 19 for runner-up Brevin Pritzl from DePere, Wis.
CBS will broadcast the event, which featured 24 of the nation’s top boys and girls high school players – eight in each competition – Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Both finalists in the boys 3-point competition are headed to Big Ten schools, with Cline set to play for Purdue and Pritzl going to Wisconsin.
Pritzl put the pressure on Cline to start off the final round with the night’s highest point total – 19 – before Cline stepped to the first rack to a standing ovation from the crowd.
He sank his first four money balls – each worth two points – the final one giving him the win with a rack of balls still to spare.
“It was obviously a great experience,” Cline said. “I had a little bit of a home-court advantage, but a lot of pressure came with it. I tried not to let that get to my head. It was something I was truly blessed with, just to have this occasion here at my high school in my hometown.”
Cline outscored Jalen Coleman-Lands (Indianapolis’ La Lumiere School; Illinois) 16-13 in the first round and tied him at 18 in the second round to qualify for the finals. Pritzl outscored Matt McQuaid (Duncanville, Texas; Michigan State) 16-15 and 16-13 to advance.
“Fearless Dreamer” winner Jaelen Sanford from Evansville (Ind.) Reitz High School topped Tevin Mack 11-6 in the first round and tied him 16-16 in the second to finish with 27 points. The “Fearless Dreamer” winner was voted in by fans, in addition to the seven players in each event selected by event organizers.
Girls 3-point competition
Kennedy Burke overcame a slow start to win the girls 3-point championship. Burke outscored Texas A&M recruit Danni Williams from Clovis, N.M.,15-13 in the final round.
A UCLA signee from Sierra Canyon in Chatsworth, Calif., Burke needed some time to warm up. She lost her first-round matchup 14-11 to another local favorite, Jessica Norris from Center Grove (Greenwood, Ind.). Norris earned her spot in the event as the Fearless Dreamer.
“To be honest, I came unprepared,” said Burke, who admitted she hadn’t shot a basketball since guiding her high school team to its third consecutive state title Saturday.
Burke got going in the second round, though, outscoring Norris 13-8 to give her enough to advance to the finals. Her 15 points in the final round was the most in the girls event.
“It was so exciting,” Burke said. “To come here and win this contest was so amazing. I’ll never forget this moment.”
The boys and girls winners then went head-to-head to determine the overall champion. Burke put the pressure on Cline with 15 points, but Cline closed strong to finish with 20 to win.
Boys slam dunk competition
The boys dunk contest to cap the evening featured it all: celebrity judges, high-flying dunks of all varieties – from windmills to tomahawks – and a player getting an assist from his mother.
UNLV signee Derrick Jones (Archbishop Carroll, Philadelphia) scored a perfect 50 on all three of his tries from the judging panel that included former Michigan State and NBA guard Mateen Cleaves and current Indianapolis Colts running back Daniel “Boom” Herron.
The 6-8 Jones’ final dunk brought the judges to their feet, as he took the ball from the left wing, jumped over four players stacked together near the basket and threw down a towering, one-handed jam.
“I jumped over two people at the (Under Armour Elite 24 in August) and was at dunk contest at Memphis and jumped over three,” Jones said. “I just thought about four today and thought, ‘Why not?’ and just did it.”
Rajon Tucker – heading to “Dunk City,” Florida Gulf Coast – also made the finals. Tucker, from Northside Christian in Charlotte, N.C., finished with 147 points. He got into the final with perfect scores of 50 in each of the first two rounds and then scored a 47 in the final.
Kyle Aherens, a Michigan State recruit from Versailles (Ohio) who was the final “Fearless Dreamer” winner, started the dunk competition off with a baseline jam off a lob, then finished by posing with Cleaves for a fake “selfie.”