High-SchoolIllinois: Jason Jordan

Gonzaga College rolls past Whitney Young

January, 8, 2012

WHEELING, W.Va. -- Things couldn’t get any worse for Nate Britt.

Here his Gonzaga College High School (Washington, D.C.) team was lucky to be down three to Whitney Young (Chicago) at the half and Britt had contributed just one steal and one foul.

“It was my worst first half of the year I’d say,” said Britt, a junior point guard who is committed to North Carolina and ranked No. 15 in the ESPNU 60. “I knew we needed to pick it up, but I just couldn’t get it going. I’ve been in a slump the last few games. We were gonna need someone else to step up.”

Enter Kris Jenkins.

The junior forward used his quickness and relentless motor to dominate Whitney Young’s frontcourt to the tune of 21 points and seven rebounds to help Gonzaga (10-0), ranked No. 11 in the POWERADE FAB 50, roll past the Dolphins (6-4) 54-44 Saturday night at the Cancer Research Classic in Wheeling, W.Va.

Jordan Abdur-Ra’oof chipped in with 10 points for Gonzaga, and Jahlil Okafor, who is ranked No. 3 in the ESPNU 25, led Whitney Young with 16 points and eight rebounds.

“I definitely noticed that we needed a boost,” said Jenkins, who was named Most Valuable Player. “They were a lot bigger than me, but I felt like I could beat them with my first step and that worked for me. That was a tough win, but we found a way to get it done.”

The Dolphins jumped on Gonzaga early by pumping the ball inside to Okafor, who overpowered the Eagles' front court scoring 10 points in the first half to give the Dolphins a slim 32-29 lead at the half.

Gonzaga couldn’t get anything going offensively in the first half. They shot just 34 percent from the floor and went 1-of-8 from the 3-point line.

The lone bright spot was Jenkins whose 16 first half points kept them within striking distance.

“We couldn’t hit anything,” Britt said. “We’re usually a lot better shooting the ball so I don’t know what was going on there. Jahlil was killing us in the first half so what we really talked about was turning it up defensively in the second half. We felt like that’s where we’d have the best chance to win.”

By the end of the third quarter, Gonzaga’s intense defensive pressure had caused Whitney Young to commit 18 turnovers. The Eagles only had three.

Midway through the fourth quarter they’d turned those giveaways into a 19-6 run, a deficit the Dolphins couldn’t recover from.

“We know that Whitney Young is a great team and Jahlil is a great player,” Jenkins said. “And they play a tough schedule so we knew that their record didn’t mean anything at all. We are really happy to come away with the win. It’s huge for our program and to do it on national TV was really special.”

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN.

Simeon pulls out squeaker over Miller Grove

January, 8, 2012

WHEELING, W.Va. -- Jabari Parker couldn’t have cared less about Miller Grove’s (Lithonia, Ga.) recent shortcomings.

Sure, he was aware that just 23 days ago Miller Grove was ranked No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50 and, yeah, he’d heard about Miller Grove's four-game losing streak. But the only thing Parker was concerned with was making certain he and his top-ranked Simeon (Chicago) squad extended that streak to five.

“I don’t care who we’re playing or what that team’s situation is,” said Parker, a junior swingman who is the No. 1 player in the ESPNU 60. “All we care about is leaving with a win.”

They did.

Parker scored 20 points and snagged six rebounds to keep No. 1 Simeon (13-0) undefeated with a 59-56 win over No. 34 Miller Grove (6-5) Saturday night at the Cancer Research Classic in Wheeling, W.Va., in a game televised on ESPN2.

Kendrick Nunn added 19 points and Steve Taylor pumped in 11 for Simeon. Tony Parker led Miller Grove with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

“This was a great win for us over a great team,” said Jabari Parker, who was named Most Valuable Player. “We knew that we’d have to come out and execute well early, and I feel like we did that. That carried over to later in the game and it helped us pull out a close one. We’re really happy with this win.”

Parker had the hot hand early for Simeon, reeling off 10 points in the first quarter to give his squad an early 18-14 lead. Simeon extended that lead by capitalizing off of Miller Grove’s turnovers. Simeon turned six second-quarter turnovers into 10 points and cruised to a comfortable 35-20 lead at the half.

Simeon’s swarming defense caused Miller Grove to shoot just 36 percent from the field in the first half.

“We executed well in the first half,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “But we know that basketball is a game of runs, and we knew that they’d make a run. They’re too good not to make a run.”

That started in the third quarter.

Miller Grove shot 8 of 11 and put together a 24-8 run to grab a 44-43 lead early in the fourth quarter.

That’s when Simeon displayed its full array of offensive weapons. Four different players scored during Simeon’s 16-13 run to seal the win.

“That’s the special thing about this team,” Smith said. “We have so many guys that can score the ball that it’s hard to key in on one player. This was a huge win for our program. Coach (Sharman) White does a great job with that program, and we feel great to have pulled this one out.”

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN.