High-SchoolBoys-Basketball: American Division

Grant, Anya propel DeMatha to tourney crown

December, 31, 2011
Related: Quicks Shots Day 1 | Quick Shots Day 2 | National Division Semifinal Recaps

Here are final day notes from the 22nd Annual Torrey Pines Holiday Classic in San Diego, Calif., Dec. 27-30.

SAN DIEGO -- Few boys' basketball programs in the country have as storied a tradition as DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.).

They were the first program, beginning in the late 1960's and 1970's, to travel nationally around the country in search of the best competition and have maintained a high level of excellence ever since.

All that meant little to Windward (Los Angeles), which was trying to complete a trifecta of victories over highly-regarded opponents in the National Division at the 22nd Annual Torrey Pines Holiday Classic. In the past 10 months, the Wildcats have proven they can compete at the national level, beginning in March with a victory over POWERADE FAB 50-ranked Salesian (Richmond, Calif.) in California's Div. IV state title game and again two nights ago with an upset of No. 16 Mitty (San Jose, Calif.).

Windward looked to take the next step and beat a mythical national title contender, but DeMathat's full court press and the frontcourt play of Jerami Grant and BeeJay Anya proved a bit too much to handle as No. 10 DeMatha recorded a 74-64 victory in the National Division championship game.

"Their length and size affected us down low," said Windward junior point guard and all-tournament selection Jordan Wilson, who finished with 13 points. "They are a good team. They are highly-ranked and deserving."

DeMatha coach Mike Jones, a former standout player at the school under Naismith Hall of Fame coach Morgan Wootten, scouted Windward's tendency to struggle against a full court press. He implemented one at beginning of the game and DeMatha forced turnovers which led to easy buckets and a 21-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.

"Yes, we definitely wanted to press them, but only for a change of phase," Jones said. "We didn't want to do much of it. They are well-coached and well-coached teams make adjustments, so we didn't want to make it too obvious."

Windward (8-5) adjusted and when Wilson hit a 3-pointer midway through the second quarter, they we're within two points (21-19), but could get no closer. DeMatha (10-0) extended its lead to 36-27 at halftime behind the beautiful baseline work of Grant and timely outside shooting of Pittsburgh recruit James Robinson.

"It was them converting off of turnovers and their outside shooting that killed us," Windward coach Miguel Villegas said. "We weren't worried about the big guy [Anya]. He was going to get his and scored mostly on sloppy stuff in the second half. It was the outside shooting; in the first half they hit I think five threes."

After intermission, Windward handled DeMatha's pressure defense better and leading scorer Nick Stover (18 points) began converting in transition. Every time the Wildcats looked to cut their deficit under eight points, however, DeMatha answered with a mini-run.

The Stags led 56-42 after three quarters and grew their lead to as much as 18 points, but Windward matched DeMatha's intensity over the final three quarters and did not allow the Maryland powerhouse to pull away.

Anya finished with 13 points and controlled the glass and swatted away a few drives by Wilson and shots underneath by Windward freshmen Roy Hensley and Mason Shepard. Grant, who finished with 12 points, was named National Division MVP.

"No. 25 [Grant] was the key," Villegas said. "We didn't have an answer for him and couldn't stop him."

DeMatha focused for FAB 50 title hunt

With its victory at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic, combined with FAB 50 No. 3 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), No. 4 Marcus Flower Mound (Marcus, Texas) and No. 5 Prestonwood Christian Academy (Plano, Texas) all losing this week, DeMatha secured a top seven ranking in 2012's first set of national rankings next week.

DeMatha now return to the East Coast. They begin play in the rugged Washington Catholic Athletic Conference on Tuesday and will have major tests for five weeks thereafter.

The Stags face No. 22 Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia) on Jan. 7 in Wheeling, W. Va., play No. 17 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) Jan. 16 on ESPNU in Springfield, Mass., and face Gonzaga Prep (Washington, D.C.) Feb. 10 in another nationally-televised matchup.

Newark Memorial takes third place

In the National Division third place game, Newark Memorial did exactly what its game plan called for in the first half, holding high-powered Taft (Woodland Hills, Calif.) to 27 points. Problem was, the Cougars had a lid on their own basket, scoring only 14 points.

Newark Memorial exploded for 20 third quarter points to propel its 55-49 victory over the Toreadors.

The comeback was completed when senior guard Casey Norris hit two free throws to give the Cougars a 47-45 lead with 2:05 remaining in the fourth quarter. Norris, a 6-foot-2 inch senior, then iced the game with an NBA range 3-pointer that give Newark Memorial (7-4) a 50-47 lead it would not relinquish.

"We just weren't being very tough," said Newark Memorial coach Craig Ashmore. "In the second half, we just relaxed a bit more, moved the ball better and made some shots."

Ashmore is known as a tough customer on the sidelines, but he had nothing but praise for Norris, who finished with a game-high 23 points.

"He's a gritty, seasoned, four-year guy. He carried us for a while when we weren't finishing as we should have been. I'm very proud of him."

Norris made the all-tournament team, as did Anthony "Dinnertime" January, who finished with a game-high 21 points for Taft (10-3).

American Division Championship:

La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) 60, Righetti (Santa Maria, Calif.) 52

The Mavericks held Righetti to three field goals in the fourth quarter to break a 46-46 stalemate through the first 24 minutes and capture the tournament's American Division title.

It was La Costa Canyon's second victory over snake-bitten Righetti this season. The Mavericks defeated Righetti 62-52 at the Mission Prep Holiday Tournament in San Luis Obispo, Calif., on Dec. 17.

"We knew they were going to come out and compete because they wanted their revenge," said American Division MVP Matt Shrigley, who along with all-tournament selection David Travers scored a team-high 16 points. "I think the key to our win was limiting their second chances and picking up the defensive intensity in the second half."

Righetti (10-2) led 19-15 after a quarter as forward Chris Walker scored 12 points. Walker then nailed a NBA-range 3-pointer near the end of the first half, propelling the Warriors to a 31-26 halftime lead with 18 points.

La Costa Canyon (14-1) opened the third quarter with a 14-2 run to take control of the game. Walker did not score in the second half.

This was the third consecutive season La Costa Canyon played in the American Division title game. In last year’s title game, La Costa Canyon lost 56-53 to El Camino (Oceanside, Calif.). In 2010, the Mavericks defeated Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), 50-48.

Torrey Pines Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team

BeeJay Anya, DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) 6-9 C Sr.
Dakari Allen, Sheldon (Sacramento, Calif.) 6-6 F Jr.
Garret Galvin, Torrey Pines (San Diego) 6-4 G Sr.
Aaron Gordon, Mitty (San Jose, Calif.) 6-9 F Jr.
Jerami Grant, DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) 6-8 F Sr.*
Anthony "Dinnertime" January, Taft (Woodland Hills, Calif.) 6-7 F Sr.
Grant Jerrett, La Verne Lutheran (La Verne, Calif.) 6-9 C Sr.
Darien Nelson-Henry, Lake Washington (Kirkland, Wash.) 6-10 C Sr.
Casey Norris, Newark Memorial (Newark, Calif.) 6-2 G Sr.
Brandon Randolph, St. Bernard (Playa del Rey, Calif.) 6-3 G Jr.
Christian Sanders, Houston St. Thomas (Houston) 6-4 G Sr.
Matt Shrigley, La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) 6-6 F Sr.**
Nick Stover, Windward (Los Angeles) 6-7 F Sr.
David Travers, La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) 6-1 G Sr.
Hunter Walker, Righetti (Santa Maria, Calif.) 6-5 F Sr.
Jordan Wilson, Windward (Los Angeles) 5-9 G Jr.
Dion Wright, Mayfair (Lakewood, Calif.) 6-7 F Sr.

*National Division MVP
**American Division MVP

Ronnie Flores is a senior editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at ronnie.flores@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonFloresESPN

Holiday Classic: Quick Shots Day 2

December, 28, 2011
BeeJay Anya, DeMatha, high school basketballScott Kurtz/ESPNHSJunior BeeJay Anya led DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) to a big win over Lincoln (San Diego, Calif.), but his team has a long way to go to be considered among the Stags' all-time best teams.
Related: Quick Shots Day 1

Here are Day 2 notes from the 22nd Annual Torrey Pines Holiday Classic in San Diego, Calif., Dec. 27-30.

Recollections of DeMatha's first venture West

SAN DIEGO -- In the marquee matchup of the National Division opening round, DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) took on Lincoln (San Diego, Calif.) in a game that had a semifinal feel to it.

DeMatha, ranked No. 10 in the latest POWERADE FAB 50, is arguably the nation's most recognizable high school program. They have been a national power since Morgan Wootten, the predecessor to current coach Mike Jones, won the first of his four mythical national titles in 1962. Lincoln won a CIF Division II state title two years ago, has not lost to a team from San Diego County since the 2008-09 season and has a large, boisterous fan base.

That combination created an electric atmosphere as DeMatha rode a big performance for junior BeeJay Anya (21 points, 14 rebounds) to a 59-48 victory. On Wednesday night, the Stags cruised to a 83-47 quarterfinal win over Mayfair (Lakewood, Calif.) to improve to 7-0 on the season. They will take on 20o9 National Division runner-up Newark Memorial (Newark, Calif.) in one Thursday evening semifinal after the Cougars defeated St. Bernard (Playa del Rey, Calif.), 57-49, in their quarterfinal game.

As exciting as the DeMatha-Lincoln game may have been, the atmosphere, according to Jones, was not quite on par in comparison to DeMatha's first California road trip during the 1990-91 season in Jones' junior year.

"I think it was even more electric because we played Artesia (Lakewood, Calif.) on their home floor," Jones said. "They had a good team and I think we won by four or six. I remember it was fun; I had a good time."

That season Wootten's Stags were supposed to participate in an event called the Fiesta Bowl Tournament in Tempe, Ariz. The event, however, ran into financial difficulties that led DeMatha to a replacement tournament in California called the Gold Coast Artesia Classic, a five-team round robin event at Artesia.

DeMatha handily defeated a San Pasqual (Escondido, Calif.) team that featured future Duke forward Erik Meek and defeated the host Pioneers by six points.

Artesia had a young team led by three high-major sophomores (Charles O’Bannon, Avondre Jones, James Cotton). DeMatha also had an underclass-dominated team led by guard Duane Simpkins (Maryland) and Jones, a 6-foot-4 wing who matriculated to George Washington University.

Over twenty years later, it's amazing the images Jones' memory conjures up.

"I remember getting dunked on while taking a charge," Jones said. "I made the play I was supposed to."

That season, Jones averaged 17.7 points and 5.7 rebounds and helped the Stags to a 30-0 record and No. 5 final national rating. In fact, the program went 75-0, the only time the DeMatha program went unbeaten for a season.

Lance Booker seasoned tournament veteran

When St. Bernard (Playa del Rey, Calif.) senior guard Lance Booker takes the floor at Torrey Pines High School, only players from the host Falcons are more at home on the court.

That's because this is Booker's third consecutive year playing in the Holiday Classic -- and he's playing with his third different team.

Two years ago, he was a pint-sized reserve guard on a Leuzinger (Lawndale, Calif.) team that won the school's first-ever CIF Southern Section title. As a junior, he played at Crenshaw (Los Angeles) and is now reunited with Reggie Morris, Jr., his former coach at Leuzinger who is now in his second year at St. Bernard.

"When I was at Leuzinger, I really loved playing for (Morris)," said Booker, who led his team to a 68-61 opening round win over Houston St. Thomas (Houston) by making all eight of his free throws and scoring 16 points. "If I would have followed him to St. Bernard, I would have had to sit out, but now I'm with him again."

Booker's high school journey has taken him from a modestly measured 5-foot-3 contributor at a large public school to a full-grown leader at a smaller parochial school. He's learned plenty about the game along the way, including how to deal with the trash talk that comes his way regarding his small frame. In fact, he has experience that players with more size, and perhaps even skill, would envy.

So does he still get ribbed about his size? Despite growing about six inches over the past two years, Booker's answer isn't surprising.

"Man, all the time. I play with a chip on my shoulder. I always feel like I have something to prove."

For the third consecutive season, "LB-Gwap" (as he referred to by teammates) knows his exact role on the team.

"When I came into St. Bernard, I already knew we were going to have a young team. I am trying to set an example for the younger guys."

"Lance is very familiar with the system we run," Morris Jr. said. "He brings another dimension with his ball-handling and outside shooting, plus he knows everything we're trying to do.

"He's definitely one of my leaders. He sets the barometer with his energy and he gets after it defensively."

Back in the game

Matt Shrigley of La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.), bound for Steve Fisher's program at San Diego State, did not play in Monday's special tip off games at Torrey Pines. It didn't matter much for the Mavericks, who improved their record to 10-1 with a 59-39 victory over Poway (Poway, Calif.).

Shrigley reportedly was nursing a sore ankle. He suited up for the Mavericks' Tuesday night American Division opener against Folsom (Folsom, Calif.) at LCC's gym.

La Costa Canyon traditionally hosts the American Division bracket and thus does not compete in the top National Division. The Mavericks are currently ranked No. 20 in the FAB 50 West Region rankings and No. 13 in the Cal-Hi Sports state top 20, so it would be interesting to see how they would fare against the top competition the National Division has to offer.

The Mavericks, who have lost only to National Division contender Taft (Woodland Hills, Calif.) so far this season, opened with a 71-50 victory over Folsom (Folsom, Calif.). Shrigley led all scorers with 15 points. On Wednesday night, he was at it again, netting 28 points in La Costa Canyon's 69-58 quarterfinal victory over Chino Hills (Chino, Calif.).

Pac-12 bound guard shines

College basketball fans in the San Diego area got a glimpse of a future Pac-12 guard in the form of 6-foot-4 Christian Sanders of Houston St. Thomas (Houston).

The Stanford-bound Sanders netted a team-high 21 points in his team's 68-61 loss to St. Bernard (Playa del Rey, Calif.). He came back with a better performance in the loser's bracket on Wednesday afternoon, leading Houston St. Thomas to a 64-53 win over La Verne Lutheran (La Verne, Calif.).

Sanders dropped in 29 points, as La Verne Lutheran dropped its second consecutive game at the Holiday Classic. Ranked in the FAB 50 to begin the season, Lutheran's performances are the most disappointing among the highly regarded teams thus far.

Ronnie Flores is a senior editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at ronnie.flores@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonFloresESPN