MIDDLE VILLAGE, N.Y. — Ben Simmons was in the house at Christ the King High, but now that he’s a freshman at LSU and waiting for the NBA draft, he wasn’t in uniform for Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.).
That left it for freshman guard R.J. Barrett and sophomore forward Silvio DeSousa to lead the Eagles to a 70-54 defeat of Providence Day (Charlotte, N.C.) in a quarterfinal Thursday at the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals.
Barrett had 20 points and seven rebounds and DeSousa had 10 points and five rebounds. But to stay in Montverde coach Kevin Boyle’s good graces, Barrett knows he has to do more.
“All I have to do is play defense and do the things on the defensive end,” Barrett said. “In order to have Coach Boyle not yell at me, just play defense. Offense isn’t the problem.”
The Eagles (26-1) have won three consecutive DICK’S titles, but despite a No. 2 ranking in the Super 25, they have an inexperienced roster. They also, like Providence Day, hadn’t played in more than a month. That showed at times against the Chargers (30-4), who outrebounded Montverde 38-31 overall and 20-6 on the offensive glass.
“I think both teams showed some rust early in that game,” Boyle said. “It was a little bit of an ugly start. We still put 70-plus points on the board. They’re a good team, but they didn’t have the depth and got worn out.”
The Chargers, who entered ranked No. 14 in the Super 25, led by as many as five points in the first quarter, but wore down as the Eagles’ bench outscored the Chargers’ 28-8.
“I’m proud of how we competed,” Providence Day coach Brian Field said. “That’s been the signature of our team. We don’t have 11 Division I players, but we are fearless and play hard. We did that tonight.”
The Chargers were led by forward Grant Williams with 12 points and eight rebounds, but when he fouled out with two quick fouls in the fourth quarter, they didn’t have enough frontcourt help.
“That was tough, but it’s part of the game,” Field said. “You are going to have situations where calls don’t go your way. When Grant fouls out, we don’t have another 6-8 SEC signee to bring in. Losing here is hard, you go from ending your season with a state championship and a win to losing.”
Simmons, who is expected to be a high first-round choice in the June NBA draft, talked to the Eagles last night and again after their win.
“We knew he was coming,” Boyle said. “Obviously the kids were excited about it. Everybody knows who Ben is. But some of these guys played with him and that lets him relax a bit and not have to be ‘a celebrity.’ The kids care, but they don’t overly care. He was hanging with us in the hallways at the hotel last night like any other kid.”
The Eagles advance to play No. 11 La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) in a semifinal Friday at Christ The King. The Lakers defeated No. 9 St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark) 60-59 in an earlier quarterfinal.