Posted On: 01/25/18 9:21 AM
Prep Hoops Missouri was in the house at Parkway West for all four games of the Ameritime Classic on Wednesday night. Hazelwood Central and Wentzville Liberty posted victories in the semifinals to advance to Friday night’s championship game at 8:30 p.m.
Here are Five Takeaways from Wednesday night’s action:
*Hazelwood Central can lock it down on defense
The top seeded Hawks moved into the championship game with a 67-54 victory over Lafayette in the semifinals. The Hawks have a lot of impressive talent on offense, but what was good about them Wednesday night was how they really locked in on the defensive end, especially in the second half. They swarmed Lafayette with pressure man to man defense and kept the Lancers from running any offense as they stretched out a relatively close game into solid double-digit win. That is the type of defense Central will have to play if they are going to make a serious run in Class 5.
*Wentzville Liberty and Parkway Central do it again
Wentzville Liberty and Parkway Central are not in the same conference, but they may as well be as their semifinals matchup was their third of the season. The two teams split their first two meetings of the season with Liberty winning at the GAC-Suburban Challenge and Central returning the favor at the MICDS Tournament. The rubber match was another hotly contested battle as Liberty came away with a 58-57 victory. It was Liberty’s second consecutive one-point victory of the tournament. Their is the possibility of a fourth meeting between the two schools. If both win their district tournaments and sectional game, they could meet again in the Class 4 state quarterfinals in March.
*DeSmet has a bright future
The Spartans entered the tournament with only two victories, but don’t let their record fool you. The Spartans started three freshman and one sophomore plus they bring two more freshman off the bench. They are taking some lumps this season, but there is some impressive young talent, led by 6’9″ 2021 forward Yaya Keita, who has a chance to be special down the road. Fellow 2021 players Jeremiah Walker and Rico Barfield are getting on the job training as a starting backcourt, plus 6’4″ 2020 forward Michael Skoff is nice Stretch 4. DeSmet had an impressive 67-64 victory over Parkway South in the consolation bracket on Wednesday night.
*Hillsboro has to regroup
The Hillsboro Hawks came into the tournament with a 17-0 record, which included a very nice victory over Jefferson City Helias last Saturday at the MFA Oil Break Time Shootout in Columbia. The Hawks saw their winning streak snapped by a solid Lafayette team 66-65 in a first-round overtime thriller. The Hawks were clipped again in the consolation semifinals by Parkway West 46-41. Hillsboro will try to regroup on Friday when they take on Parkway South in the seventh-place game.
*Role players shine
I was impressed with some role players who did a nice job of helping their teams last night.
*6’3″ 2o18 guard Jhaylen Covington-Berry of Hazelwood Central did a tremendous job of playing on-ball defense against Lafayette’s top player Brendon Boyd. His defensive work set the tone for the Hawks smothering defense effort in the second half that broke open a close game.
*6’7″ 2019 forward Joey Bender of DeSmet came off the bench to score 12 points in the Spartans’ victory over Parkway South. Bender had some strong finishes around the basket as he helped the Spartans control the action in the paint.
*2018 guard Dallas Craddeith of Hazelwood Central is one of the state’s top football prospects. He joined the Hawks basketball team a couple of weeks ago. His addition has already paid dividends with his energy and motor off the bench. He had 12 points in Wednesday night’s victory over Lafayette.