Commentary

Rivers, Winter Park have the last word

Updated: February 6, 2010, 11:56 AM ET
By Ronnie Flores | ESPN RISE

ESPN's Old Spice High School Showcase made a stop at Florida Atlantic University for two showcase games involving ESPN RISE FAB 50 ranked teams.

FAU is located in Boca Raton, where football is king, but on Friday night two high school basketball stars took center stage as Brandon Knight of Pine Crest (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and Austin Rivers of Winter Park (Winter Park, Fla.) dueled in an old-fashioned shoot-out. In the other contest, Montverde (Fla.) Academy's contest with The Sagemont School (Weston, Fla.) went down to the wire.

Knight, ranked No. 3 in the ESPNU 100 and considered the nation's top unsigned prospect, and Rivers, ranked No. 2 in the ESPNU Super 60, combined for 89 points. When the dust settled, it was FAB 50 No. 16 Winter Park that got more help from its complimentary players and came away with a 87-76 victory.

Rivers, a verbal commit to the University of Florida, made 14 of 24 field goal attempts and nine of 12 free throws to finish with 41 points. Knight, last year's Gatorade National Player of the Year and a candidate for ESPN RISE Mr. Basketball USA this season, finished with 48 points. Knight made 15 of 35 field goals and was a perfect 15 of 15 from the free throw line.

Knight, who received 63 points in the latest Mr. Basketball USA Tracker, including one first place ballot, trials Florida freshman and good friend Kenny Boynton by just 77 points as the all-time leading scorer in Broward County history. Boynton scored 3,387 points for Pompano Beach Ely and Plantation American Heritage between 2006-2009.

The difference in Friday night's game was the play of John David Swanson. He finished with 20 points, including six 3-pointers for Winter Park (21-4).

Pine Crest (18-4) trailed 59-48 at the start of the third quarter, but Winter Park took complete control of the game with a 9-2 run to open the final period. The Panthers cut Winter Park's lead to 10 points (81-71) with just a minute remaining in the game, but they never seriously threatened Rivers and company down the stretch.

The first game of Friday's showcase featured two highly regarded players in the ESPNU 100, but unlike the nightcap, it was a more balanced attack by both teams.

James Bell, the No. 40 ranked player in the ESPNU 100, netted nine fourth-quarter points to lead FAB 50 No. 10 Montverde Academy to a 57-52 win over The Sagemont School. The Sagemont School stayed competitive in this game despite the foul woes of its most highly regarded prospect, Fabricio Melo. The Brazil native and Syracuse recruit picked up two early fouls and finished with 10 points.

Two players from the Class of 2011, Montverde Academy's Rod Days and The Sagemont School's Steve Mondu Missi, stepped up and shined on a national stage.

Mondu Missi led Montverde Academy (20-4) with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Bell finished with 17 points after a slow start and furious finish.

Days, a 6-foot-6 wing, excelled in transition and was hot from the outside for The Sagemont School (16-7). He nailed five of six 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 28 points.

With just under 35 seconds remaining, Days hit a three-pointer to cut his team's deficit to four points (53-49). Moments later, he hit another triple to make it a one possession game (55-52), but Montverde Academy converted its final two shots from the foul line to deal the win. The Eagles' key to victory was converting 22 of their 26 free throws in the game.

Besides Days and Melo, the only other Sagemont Academy player to score was Will Sheehey. The 6-foot-5 Indiana University recruit finished with 14 points.