FORT MYERS, Fla. — Two prep school powerhouses, which had just met two weeks ago, ran into a very different outcome Tuesday night in the 44th Annual City of Palms Classic Signature Series championship game.
That’s because Putnam Science Academy (Putnam, Conn.) ran into a team at full strength.
Westtown (West Chester, Pa.) defeated Putnam 55-52 at Florida SouthWestern State College’s Suncoast Credit Union Arena two weeks after losing the same matchup, 76-47, in Maryland.
Except this wasn’t exactly the same matchup.
Two weeks ago, 6-foot-11 senior center Mohamed Bamba didn’t play. Neither did fellow starter Tone Ochefu, a 6-9, 225-pound senior power forward.
This game went down to the final 60 seconds.
Bamba, who is being recruited by Kentucky, Duke, Michigan and Connecticut, scored nine points and grabbed rebounds Tuesday. His presence also allowed 6-8 junior forward Cam Reddish to stand out.
Reddish, who has 15 scholarship offers, scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds. He also made 6-of-7 free throws, including three in the game’s final minute, which helped clinch the victory.
Reddish’s free throw with 26 minutes remaining gave his team the lead for good.
“We got a lot of confidence here,” said Reddish, whose team hopes to win the Pennsylvania private school state title at the end of this season. “I feel if we keep rebounding and keep playing defense, we will go far.”
Westtown senior Brandon Randolph, a 6-5 guard who signed with Arizona, scored 17 points and had five rebounds and two assists.
Westtown coach Seth Berger raved about Reddish’s play.
“Cam played amazing,” Berger said. “People call him a pro. He’s a great player.”
Westtown had to contend with another great player in 6-6 senior Hamidou Diallo, who is considering Kentucky, Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana and Syracuse for college.
Diallo scored a game-high 21 points and had seven rebounds.
“They’ve got the No. 1 big man in the country,” Putnam coach Tom Espinosa said. “They’re a tough group.”
Putnam hopes to win the national prep school championship at the end of this season in New Haven, Connecticut. Last season, Putnam fell in the semifinals.
The Mustangs also are used to playing college rules with two, 20-minute halves instead of four, eight-minute quarters.
Espinosa said he wished his team could have had another eight minutes of action.
“We like to go 40 minutes, because we’re pretty deep,” Espinosa said. “I’m not saying we would have won. But I’m pretty confident.”