Here are Day 3 notes from the 22nd Annual Torrey Pines Holiday Classic in San Diego, Calif., Dec. 27-30.
SAN DIEGO -- In San Diego County, the Lincoln (San Diego) boys' basketball team is much like a schoolboy Duke. It's a love-hate relationship with local fans -- you either are a die-hard Hornets supporter or you want to see them lose at very opportunity.
The common denominator is San Diego hoop fans love to watch the Hornets play and look forward to the highlight plays Lincoln's players provide.
The players drawing most of the "oh, did you see that?" moments are juniors Tyree Robinson and Tyrell Robinson. They are identical twins with the identical goal of keeping Lincoln as legitimate CIF state title contenders. It won't be easy, as Lincoln graduated 11 seniors off a team that went 31-2 and advanced to the state semifinals, but not much comes easy for Lincoln basketball players.
Not only do they endure the rough Lincoln Park neighborhood of Southeast San Diego where the school is located, the players fight for the respect they feel has been earned as San Diego's most successful program in recent seasons.
It certainly wasn't easy for Lincoln at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic. The Hornets opened with POWERADE FAB 50 No. 10 DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.), the tournament's top seed. It was perplexing to Lincoln head coach Jason Bryant. After all, we're talking about a program that finished in third place at last year's tournament (dropping a one-point game to champion Long Beach Poly in the semifinals) and won the CIF Div. II state title the season before.
"I mean, for us to be ranked No. 2 in the county, it's a slap in the face," Bryant said. "We haven't lost to a county team last two years."
Despite missing 6-foot-3 guard Jerry Cobb to academic ineligibility, the Hornets played DeMatha tough before falling 59-48 when the Stags' powerful front line wore Lincoln down in the second half.
“We were ready, it was 35-32 at halftime," Tyrell said. "Once I got in foul trouble, it was hard for us to execute.
"We were focused on boxing out and putting a body of them because they were taller than us. We missed a couple of easy open looks, but we'll be good."
On the court, a close inspection reveals noticeable differences between the two brothers. Both are listed at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, but Tyrell is slightly thicker and muscular with a lower center of gravity. Naturally, he excels at getting to the rim and absorbing contact.
If there is any height difference, it's due to the fact Tyree has a bit more length and plays more upright. He has a smooth stroke from the outside. In fact, he nailed six 3-pointers en route to 22 points against DeMatha.
"Tyree is one of the best shooters in the state," said Bryant, now in his fifth season at Lincoln. "Tyrell can get to the rim effortlessly and that sets up his brother, who he usually finds spotting up on the wing. They play well off each other."
Both are also standout football players. Tyrell is a defensive end and Tyree is a corner. As a sophomore, Tyree was a second team Cal-Hi Sports all-state medium schools and football will factor into their college recruitment.
"Basketball is my first love, but football comes easier for me," Tyree said. "We are going to go to the same school. We're going to keep our options open and hopefully play both.
"I never want to leave my brother, we ride and die together."
It's probably music to their parents' ears that they'll stay together for college. After all, they have lived in Southeast San Diego their whole lives and grew up a stone's throw from Lincoln.
Their mother Denise Robinson actually attended Morse (San Diego), Lincoln's rival, and dabbled in basketball. Father Scotty Robinson is a South Carolina native. Older brother Scotty Goodloe was a football standout at Marian Catholic (San Diego) and played at Weber State.
Off the court, Tyree speaks in a more proper tone and is a bit of an introvert. Tyrell, who was born two minutes after his brother. He's a bit looser and outgoing with strangers.
"My brother is more goofy," Tyree jokingly said.
After the loss to DeMatha, Lincoln dropped a 56-55 heartbreaker to Sheldon (Sacramento, Calif.) after the Huskies converted a lay-up at the buzzer. Tyree hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds remaining and Tyrell finished with 24 points. On Thursday morning, the duo combined for 33 points in a 53-44 loss to La Verne Lutheran (La Verne, Calif.).
Despite Lincoln's struggles in the tournament, not to mention their different personalities, both brothers remained upbeat about the rest of Lincoln's season -- and playing together on the next level.
So what is it that makes the brothers so close-knit and positive? Is it their DNA makeup as identical twins? Their father's military background?
Bryant relates it to something much more simplistic.
"They are really coachable and very humble even though they get a lot of attention. They are a pleasure to coach, not because of their talent, because they are just good kids."
National Division final set
As expected, POWERADE FAB 50 No. 10 DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) advanced to Friday evening's final with a 64-49 victory over upstart Newark Memorial (Newark, Calif.) in the first semifinal.
Up-and-coming 6-foot-2 junior Jairus Lyles led DeMatha's balanced attack with 15 points, as four players scored in double figures for the Stags.
DeMatha jumped out to a 19-7 lead after one quarter and the Cougars could not recover. Newark Memorial cut its large deficit down to six points (48-42) with less than six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Stags pulled away down the stretch.
"We're mad we didn't get the win, but we're not hurt because we competed," said Newark Memorial's Casey Norris, who finished with 10 points and made heady plays around the basket. "We watched a lot of film, so we were prepared, we just didn't make enough threes to get the win."
Windward has started slow in many of its early games this season, but against Taft they jumped out to a 21-13 lead after one quarter of play. Senior guard Luke Silverman-Lloyd sparked the Wildcats in the first half with three 3-pointers and finished with 12 points, all on long-range shots.
In the second half, senior LMU recruit Nick Stover took over. He continuously finished drives around the basket and knocked down a majority of his free throws. He finished with a game-high 30 points.
Taft coach Jason Hart (a former NBA guard) ordered a full court press that created some easy baskets late in the game, but the Toreadors couldn't cut their deficit to single digits after trailing 57-39 entering the fourth quarter.
Senior forward Brandon Perry led Taft with 25 points. Taft's other standout forward, senior Anthony "Dinnertime" January, was held to nine points.
"Our game plan was to come out hard," Silverman-Lloyd said. "We didn't want to face an uphill battle.
"We're going to look at the film [of DeMatha] tonight. We're going to need a full team effort to win. If we get out to a strong start, we'll play with them the whole game. We're the underdogs, but we like that role."