Commentary

Mr. (Little) Big Shot

Updated: December 31, 2009, 3:09 PM ET
By Ronnie Flores | ESPN RISE

There was no smaller player in the Maxpreps Holiday Classic than Leuzinger (Lawndale, Calif.) guard Lance Booker. The southpaw is generously listed at 5-foot-2.

And no, he doesn't just sit on the pine or give high fives during warm-ups and timeouts.

He's one of the first players off the bench for an elite team that won the National Division consolation championship.

In the 58-53 consolation championship win over Lutheran (La Verne, Calif.), Booker hit a 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer. He then hit another 3 to make it 24-19 with 6:20 remaining in the first half.

Booker finished with nine points and three rebounds.

Oakland's Hoops Future Lights Up

[+] EnlargeOakland
Scott KurtzJamaree Strickland (left) and Brandon Ashley are proving Oakland's basketball future is in good hands.
Two teams from Oakland, Calif., closed out the MaxPreps Holiday Classic well. Both appear as if they'll be strong for both the rest of this season and the future.

McClymonds, the defending NorCal Division I champions, upped its tourney record to 2-2 with a 66-62 win over Compton (Compton, Calif.). McClymonds lost its tourney opener to Price (Los Angeles, Calif.), 74-48, then rebounded with a 37-36 win over Fairfax (Los Angeles, Calif.). McClymonds' second loss came against Division II state-title contender Leuzinger (Lawndale, Calif.), 49-48.

"We could have put up a better fight against Price," said 6-foot-9, 240-pound sophomore Jamaree Strickland. "I think against Leuzinger and Fairfax we did OK."

Bishop O'Dowd capped off its 2-2 tournament with a 68-54 victory over Yale Secondary (Brooklyn, N.Y.). All-Tourney selection Brandon Ashley scored a game-high 32 points.

O'Dowd opened with a 63-62 win over Leuzinger, then lost to Taft (Woodland Hills, Calif.), 53-46. O'Dowd also lost to Price, 62-49.

"We could have made it to the championship game if we had played the right way," said Ashley, ranked No. 25 in the ESPNU Terrific 25.

With both Strickland and Ashley being sophomores, McClymonds and O'Dowd have their best days ahead of them. McClymonds features 11 underclassmen, while O'Dowd has nine.

The two teams face off at the Gametime Classic on Jan. 9.

"We always cheer each other on," said Ashley, who has known Strickland since sixth grade. "In fact, we were just talking about what I'm going to do against him and him against me."

Tourney Surprises

These players may not have made the All-Tournament Team, but they caught our eye.

Jordan Barton  Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland, Calif.)
Michael Caffey  Centennial (Corona, Calif.)
Nick Capiti  Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland, Calif.)
Roderick Edwards  McClymonds (Oakland, Calif.)
Kirby Gardner  Eisenhower (Rialto, Calif.)
Derrick Gordon  St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.)
Xavier Jones  Lutheran (La Verne, Calif.)
Marquis Ransom  Centennial (Corona, Calif.)
Khion Sankey  Newark Memorial (Newark, Calif.)
Keyon Sayles  Eisenhower (Rialto, Calif.)
Skylar Spencer  Price (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Deveon Thomas  Compton (Compton, Calif.)

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