Posted On: 01/6/18 12:09 PM
While much of the high expectations, hype, and hearsay enveloping the Charger Classic at Suncoast High School centered on national power University School, Westminster pulled off the tournament’s most pulsating win.
After trailing for much of the game, Westminster came roaring back from the deficit to force overtime against Florida Prep. They wound up gutting out a wild 72-69 OT thriller, fueled by poised play from FGCU-commit Zach Scott and high-major prospect and Class of 2020 forward Dudley Blackwell. Blackwell hit a monstrous straight-away 3-pointer that helped push the game in overtime. As he’s known to do, Scott got free for a pivotal layin and displayed nerveless poise in the game’s critical moments.
The Florida Gulf Coast-signee was relatively quiet in the first half, deferring a bit. Yet as he showed during the state tournament last season, the 6-foot-4 guard has an innate feel of when to call out his own number and turn in big plays. In scoring a game-best 20 points, Scott got into the teeth of Florida Prep’s defense and scored around the rim at the opportune time. With a nifty handle and potent off the dribble scoring, Scott exemplified senior leadership. This component, of course, was underscored by his grit down the stretch.
With coaches from Stetson in the building to see the sharpshooting Class of 2019 prospect, Johnston got Westminster jump-started by hitting four of his first six shots in the first quarter. Though known primarily for his beyond the arc game, Johnston scored on some nifty bankers and displayed an all around scoring acumen. He drilled a key 3-pointer in the third quarter, as Westminster began to stage a furious rally. Johnston, who also holds offers from Bucknell, FGCU, and several others, has an advanced game with his quick-release shooting. He’s widely regarded as the best shooter in Florida and it’s his blink-quick release that makes his shooting ability translatable to the Division-I level.
The 6-foot-6 forward is freakishly athletic, an attribute of his game that makes him attractive to high-major programs. While Blackwell had an irregular first half performance, he came alive during the second half with a pair of timely 3-pointers. None was bigger than a pressure-knifing straight-away three-pointer with time winding down in regulation. With electric finishing ability, Blackwell has a high ceiling. If he can develop the killer instinct that Scott will leave following 2018 graduation, he’ll enhance a growing high-major profile. Westminster knows they need to keep Blackwell around and implore him to embrace the leadership mentality for the next two seasons, as the prep programs and aggressive recruiters will surely start contacting him.
Big bodied forward did a commendable job applying defensive toughness on a bigger frontline at Florida Prep. Needs to continue to stay engaged through four quarters and score on hustle points in effort to provide the additional leg of scoring for coach Ehren Wallhoff.
Class of 2019 guard brings a reliable skill-set in quality minutes. He has shown flashes of potential this season and much of the same was evident against Florida Prep, when he bucketed a pair of pivotal 3-pointers during the second half. Can play both backcourt positions. Anticipate Griffin being flushed into a more prominent role as a senior next year.