Breezy's top teams
BALTIMORE, Md. -- The 5th Annual Breezy Bishop Showcase at the Western/Poly Athletic Complex has grown into the largest tournament on the East Coast, featuring 32 teams from the Mid-Atlantic. Named after the legendary Western High coach Breezy Jude Bishop, "The Breezy" has become a must-attend event for any team looking to add tough competition to its schedule. This year's lineup of games was exciting from start to finish, including two upsets of Powerade Fab 50 teams. Here is a look at some the best teams from this weekend's action:
Archbishop Spalding (Glen Burnie, Md.): No team had a better tournament. The Cavaliers have a veteran starting line up with four seniors, three who are Division I signees. In the first big matchup of the tournament Spalding defeated their DMV rival national No. 12 Riverdale Baptist in an overtime thriller. The Cavaliers are disciplined, well prepared and have a chemistry that allowed them to execute their game plan against Riverdale Baptist. Senior guards Brea Freeland and Maggie Morrison (Vanderbilt signee) focused on containing Riverdale's speedy backcourt and denying them penetration. Offensively, they spread the floor and allowed sophomore Camille Calhoun to attack the middle of the defense where she scored the majority of her points. Seniors Shaquila Curtis (Binghamton) and 5-11 Sherea Swinson (American) stayed active on the boards and in the paint, contesting shots and getting weak side rebounds. Spaulding's captain Morrison proved she is ready for the next level she made back-to-back 3-pointers in overtime to secure the upset victory. The Cavaliers went on to defeat Bishop Ford (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 73-58 on Sunday.
Bishop Loughlin (Brooklyn, N.Y.): After losing two district games in the CHSAA, Bishop Loughlin headed south and picked up a couple of quality wins. Loughlin is a team loaded with tough, athletic guards and wings that like to press and run. Sophomore wing Imani Tate is tough to defend when she is attacking the basket and junior guard Ayana Ratliff can score from the perimeter. Against the tough host team Western they were able to use their speed and size to push tempo and score the majority of their points in transition. Loughlin was the tournament's highest scoring team racking up 142 points in two games.
Nazareth Regional (Brooklyn, N.Y.): Even without Syracuse-bound senior Tiffany Jones, No. 6 Nazareth showed why it is considered one of the elite high schools programs in the country. Forwards Senior Bra'shey Ali and junior Taylor Ford have polished their offensive skills with the ability to score facing the basket. Against St. Francis (Baltimore, Md.), the Knights guards, junior 5-10 Brianna Sidney and 5-9 Darius Faulk played tough on-ball defense and created plenty of turnovers that converted to easy layups. Even though they lost a tough game, coach Apache Paschall has to be proud of his team's effort, especially the stellar play of freshman guard Bianca Ceuvas, who lead a fourth-quarter comeback against St. John's. Nazareth is a confident team that has athletic talent and skill to match up with any top-ranked team in the country.
Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.): With the toughest schedule in high-school basketball the No. 12 Lady Crusaders are going to face their share of ups and downs during the season. After her team's loss to an unranked Archbishop Spalding, veteran coach Diane Richardson had to get Riverdale focused against regionally ranked No. 16 Archbishop Carroll (Radnor, Pa.). In the first quarter they struggled to find their offensive rhythm and Carroll jumped out to an early lead. By the half Riverdale made adjustments defensively, utilizing their length to cut off the passing lanes of Carroll's precise offensive sets. Senior guard Lauren Chase (UMBC), normally a starter, came off the bench and led the offense for the Crusaders. When Chase and backcourt mate Tyonna Williams (Temple) are attacking the middle of the defense, the team is at its best offensively. Riverdale has the ability to wear down opponents defensively; junior forward 6-0 Jennie Simms and sophomore forward 6-0 Maya Singleton work well together down low contesting shots and rebounding. The Lady Crusaders still are gelling as a team and have yet to play their best basketball.
St. John's College (D.C.): The No. 22 team in the national Fab 50 notched a 10-point victory over No. 6 Nazareth (Brooklyn, N.Y.). The Cadets are an excellent shooting team that can makes shots from just about anywhere on the floor. St. John's is a very strong defensive team; they can pressure ball full court and force opponents into bad shots. Ultra-athletic forward junior, 6-2 Jade Clark brought a tremendous amount of energy to the game on both ends of the floor and junior guard 5-8 Moorah Rowser is hard to stop offensively. One the keys to St John's upset victory over Nazareth was the floor leadership of sophomore point guard 5-9 Lindsay Allen. Allen maintained her composure against Nazareth's relentless pressure; she made passes that got her teammates easy shots and controlled the pace and tempo of the game. The Cadets have all the pieces to be considered as one of the top teams in the country, their much-anticipated game versus Riverdale Baptist is Feb. 10.
The Academy of the Holy Cross (MD): This weekend the No. 19 ranked team in the East Region chalked up victories over South Shore (Queens, N.Y.) and No. 16 Archbishop Carroll (Radnor, Pa.). Akilah Bethal (West Virginia), a 6-foot wing and the Tartans' only senior starter, showed poise and maturity has a team leader. Bethal's intensity on defense helped her team withstand late game runs by their opponents in both contest. Pandora Wilson, a 6-foot junior, is a scoring threat in the Tartans' high-low offensive sets and sophomore combo-guard Taylor McCarley has the ability to handle the ball under pressure and create her own shot. Holy Cross has the unique ability to put a team on the floor with players playing their college positions. They have post players, 6-5 junior Lanay Montgomery and 6-4 freshman Rhamat Alhassan, who can both run the floor and rebound, along with a solid bench that contributes productive minutes. Their depth and talent should have them poised to handle the reminder of their tough schedule.
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Lisa Bodine is a national evaluator for ESPN HoopGurlz. A native of Queens, N.Y., she began her coaching career in 1993 with the NY Gazelles, has coached with D.C.-based Team Unique, and in 2009 she was named DAC Co-Coach of the Year after leading Wakefield Country Day School in Flint Hill, Va., to its first-ever conference title. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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