Community School couldn’t quite dig out of the early hole it fell into against a hot-shooting Loyola Academy team in the Kelleher Firm Gulfshore Holiday Hoopfest. As a result, the tournament finals will be a Midwest showdown.
The boys basketball team from Loyola, located in the Chicago suburb of Wilmette, drilled five 3-pointers in the first quarter in Saturday’s semifinals. The Ramblers opened up a 12-point lead at halftime and Community School, the only one of six local teams to make it to the Hoopfest semifinals, couldn’t recover.
In the early semifinal Saturday, the tournament’s other out-of-state program also opened up a big lead but had to fend off a feisty opponent to get to the finals. Park Hills (Ky.)-Covington Catholic beat Deerfield Beach 53-36 to advance.
The Hoopfest championship, which tips off at 1:45 p.m. Sunday, pits two teams that have never lost in Naples. Loyola has won the tournament title the past two seasons, it’s only appearances. Covington Catholic, from just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, is making its first trip to Southwest Florida.
Community School (10-2) got within four points in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t make shots in the final minutes.
“The first half both teams had 10 points in the paint. They just hit a few more 3s than us,” Seahawks coach Greg Donahue said. “That’s a fun team to play. We’re not going to play a team that’s as locked in physically and mentally in everything they do. We just didn’t make the shots they did.”
Jay Beshears hit a 3-pointer with 4:29 to play to pull Community School within 39-35. In the next four minutes, the Seahawks had the ball three times trailing by four points but couldn’t score.
Community School got back into the game by tightening up its defense. Loyola’s Matthew Enghauser and Connor Barrett scored 15 points in the first half on five 3-pointers, but the Seahawks held them to two points in the second half on Enghauser’s two free throws.
“The second half we did a good job of switching up,” Donahue said. “We went with a triangle-and-two defense on (Enghauser and Barrett) and limited them. We just couldn’t get over the hump.”
Jacob Siegel scored 11 points for the Seahawks, while Parker Weiss added 10. Enghauser with 11 points was the only Ramblers player in double figures.
Community School is scheduled to play Deerfield Beach, which lost to Covington Catholic, at noon Sunday in the third-place game. However, Donahue said he’d like to not play since his starters are exhausted after three games in three days.
All five Seahawks starters played all 32 minutes in Saturday’s game, which ended at 10:30 p.m.
Covington Catholic, which won Kentucky’s single-class state championship last season, appeared to be headed for an easy night in the early going. The Colonels led by as many as 20 points in the second quarter and were up 18 at halftime.
Then Deerfield Beach, a Class 9A regional finalist last season, locked in defensively. The Bucks outscored Covington Catholic 14-3 in the third quarter. The Colonels didn’t score their first points of the period until there was 2:15 left.
“We were finishing around the rim real well and moving the ball well in the first half,” Covington Catholic junior guard Grant Disken said. “In the third quarter, we didn’t move the ball. We had to not speed up and relax.”
With 6:30 to play, Deerfield Beach was within four points, trailing 35-31. However, the Bucks went five minutes without scoring. Meanwhile, Covington Catholic was in the bonus the whole quarter and made its free throws down the stretch.
The Colonels made 10 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter. Disken made 8 of 10 foul shots in the final period and finished with a game-high 19 points.
Michael Johnson scored 11 points to lead Deerfield Beach. Senior Victor Robinson, who is committed to Division I Albany State, was held to five points and did not score in the second half.
Kelleher Firm Gulfshore Holiday Hoopfest
At Golden Gate High School
Game 1 – Wilmette (Ill.)-Loyola 39, First Baptist Academy 24
Game 2 – Naples 60, Hallandale 58
Game 3 – Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas 58, Lehigh 54
Game 4 – Community School 66, Largo 40
Game 5 – Sanford-Seminole 72, Seacrest 48
Game 6 – Deerfield Beach 53, Ocala-Trinity Catholic 42
Game 7 – Parkland-Stoneman Douglas 65, Golden Gate 38
Game 8 – Park Hills (Ky.)-Covington Catholic 74, Lakeland-Kathleen 70
Consolation – Largo 50, Seacrest 49
Consolation –Trinity Catholic 68, Kathleen 53
Consolation – Lehigh 69, Hallandale 61
Consolation – First Baptist 84, Golden Gate 71
Quarterfinal 1 – Loyola 55, Naples 19
Quarterfinal 2 – Community School 77, St. Thomas Aquinas 71
Quarterfinal 3 – Covington Catholic 66, Stoneman Douglas 36
Quarterfinal 4 – Deerfield Beach 58, Seminole 38
Consolation – Golden Gate 63, Seacrest 57 (OT)
Consolation – Naples 75, Seminole 63
Consolation – Lehigh 96, Kathleen 55
Consolation – Largo 39, Hallandale 38
Consolation – First Baptist 52, Stoneman Douglas 43
Consolation – Trinity Catholic 83, Aquinas 59
Semifinals – Covington Catholic 53, Deerfield Beach 36
Semifinals – Loyola 46, Community School 39
Third-place game — Community School vs. Deerfield Beach, Noon
Championship — Covington Catholic vs. Loyola, 1:45 p.m.