Boston High School: Rodney Sanders

Finkelstein's top NEPSAC tourney performers

March, 5, 2012
ESPN's Adam Finkelstein recaps the top performances from the NEPSAC Boys Basketball Tournament's Class A, AA, and AAA Finals, last weekend at Endicott College.

You can view the entire entry here on ESPN's Basketball Recruiting Section. Here's the highlights:

Standout prospects
Nik Stauskas (Mississauga, Ontario/St. Mark’s)
2012, SF, 6-6, 205
College: Michigan
Stauskas finished with 19 points but his impact on the game far exceeded that total, as he not only scored the ball in different ways but also facilitated for others in both pick and roll as well as drive-and-kick action. While the complete versatility of Stauskas’ offensive repertoire was on full display, the most impressive part of his performance was that innate star quality that allowed him to make big play after big play at the most pivotal moments of the game.

Nerlens Noel (Everett, Mass./Tilton)
2012, C, 6-10, 215
Noel’s biggest contributions once again came on the defensive end, where he not only anchored the team with his shot-blocking presence but also showed his ability to defend a dominant low-post player as he utilized his quickness and agility to prevent Kaleb Tarczewski (Claremont, N.H./St. Mark’s) from being able to establish any type of seals on the low post. Offensively, his 10 points included one incredible alley-oop finish which he caught literally above the box, in addition to a number of high-level passes.

Chris McCullough (New York, N.Y./Salisbury)
2014, PF, 6-9, 210
McCullough scored a game-high 26 points in the class A final, continuing to show his potentially lethal combination of length, athleticism and skill. McCullough brought good energy throughout the game, running the floor and being active on the offensive glass, while continuing to show a consistently expanding offensive repertoire. He was a consistent threat at the 3-point line, turned the corner in big-to-big ball screen action, and then iced the game with great poise at the free throw line.

Surprise performer
Spike Albrecht (Crown Point, Ind./Northfield Mount Hermon)
2012, PG, 6-1, 180
Albrecht showed great resiliency and endurance, playing all 40 minutes of an incredibly hard fought AAA final and serving as the team’s primary ballhandler from start to finish. He was at his best down the stretch, knocking down a deep 3-pointer and two clutch free throws in the game’s final 30 seconds. Albrecht is a cerebral point guard who is super crafty inside and is especially adept at keeping his dribble.

Keep an eye on
Rodney Sanders (Linden, N.J./St. Thomas More)
2012, SG, 6-4, 185
Sanders' Division I stock has consistently grown over the last couple of months and it got another boost on Sunday. The big southpaw guard showed an ability to make shots in bunches from behind the 3-point line, which provides only added value for a utility guard who can impact the game by defending multiple perimeter positions, playing with a very high motor and showing general versatility on the offensive end.

NEPSAC: NMH 74, St. Thomas More (Conn.) 70

March, 4, 2012
BEVERLY, Mass. --- After sinking five clutch overtime free throws in Friday’s semi-final win over No. 1 seed Brewster Academy, it was only fitting that Northfield-Mt. Hermon point guard Spike Albrecht be on the line when it mattered most in Sunday’s Class AAA Championship game at Endicott College.

After a back-and-forth battle that saw both teams exchange leads in the second half Albrecht put the finishing touches on a tournament MVP run as he calmly sank both free throws with 2.9 seconds on the clock to help lift NMH (29-5) to a 74-70 victory over St. Thomas More (Conn.). The win earned NMH their first NEPSAC Class AAA Championship.

“As soon as I missed the first one my teammates all said to get it back to him and he will make them,” said Albrecht, a native of Crown Point, Ind. “I was fortunate enough to get that second chance and make both of them.”

NMH led by as many as seven points, 67-60, with 4:23 remaining in the second half but the Chancellors would not give in as guards Torin Childs-Harris and Barrington Stevens both sank late 3-pointers to help cut the NMH lead to one possession with under a minute to go.

After an NMH turnover under their own basket Stevens had a chance to tie it with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game but his shot rimmed out resulting in a forced foul and Albrecht’s made free throws that sealed the victory for the Hoggers.

“They went on a nice second half run that was similar to Brewster the other night,” said Albrecht. “We needed to make plays, fight through, battle and we did.”

NMH received strong first half efforts from post players Ethan O'Day (eight points, six rebounds in first half) and Evan Cummins (nine points, four rebounds in first half) as they took a narrow 36-35 lead to the half.

Guard Rodney Sanders was the main weapon for St. Thomas More on the evening, as he scored 14 of his team-high 23 points in the first half with four made 3-pointers on the evening.

With O’Day in early second half foul trouble and Cummins contained to one second half point NMH relied on their guard play to carry the bulk of the offensive work load. After being held scoreless in the first half NMH guard Sam Donahue hit three late second half 3-pointers and fellow guard Anthony Dallier (9 points) also provided strong defense and rebounding from the guard position.

Stevens scored 16 points for St. Thomas More and Denzel Gregg also added eight points and four rebounds for the runners-up.

“This is a record breaking team in many ways,” said Carroll. “This is a group of guys who decided early on that they could make a run at this and the chemistry that this group had made them such a special group.”

Bench productivity: With O’Day in early second half foul trouble NMH received a lift from their bench, in particular forward Peter Miller, who scored seven points on the evening and provided strong post defense in the second half.

“We talked about it before the game that nobody is alone today,” said Carroll. “There is always somebody there to have your back and we talked about somebody being in foul trouble and somebody having to step up. It was not a surprise that they stepped up and responded and each guy has a very valuable piece of this win today.”

Albrecht’s MVP run: It was quite the week for the post graduate from Indiana. Albrecht scored a team-high 23 points to go along with six assists and two steals en route to being named tournament MVP.

“We knew we deserved this one but we had to go out there and earn it,” said Albrecht. “I am glad for my teammates, my classmates and all of our coaches.”

Albrecht also had a huge game in the semi-final upset win over Brewster as he scored 16 points and five of his team’s nine points in overtime.

Up Next: NMH and St. Thomas More will both take part in the eight team National Prep Championships beginning Tuesday at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Conn.

NMH will take on Hargrave Military Academy (Va) at 8 p.m. on Tuesday night, while St. Thomas More will take on Notre Dame Prep in another quarterfinal matchup at 2 p.m. on the same day.

“Tonight is a big win for us and it will give us a big lift of confidence heading into next week’s National Championships,” said Albrecht.