Posted On: 11/29/18 4:01 PM

On Wednesday, I made the trip over to AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami for the 4th annual Hoop Hall Invitational. 

10 teams, five matchups all Broward vs. Dade County. All five games were filled with athletes and very good competition.


Norland 51, Western 41

North Miami 89, Northeast 73

Westminster 65, Palmetto 64 (OT)

University School 74, South Miami 67

Miami Christian 71, Stranahan 57 

Here are five takeaways from the day in downtown Miami.

Westminster never quits

It seems like Westminster never gives up. Trailing 38-24 after two quarters of play to Palmetto, 2019 guards Chase Johnston (Purdue Ft. Wayne signee) and Sam Griffin (UT Arlington signee) combined for 39 of the 65 points generated by the Lions. Johnston had a huge second half with a flurry of triples while Griffin went to work as an attacker and mid-range shooter. Johnston led his side with 22 points and Griffin paced him with 17 points.

However, it was 2020 guard Stephan Swenson (11 points) who had the game-winning bucket with 20 seconds left in overtime. Westminster certainly got lucky on the missed layup by Palmetto at the horn, but boy was it a back and forth battle in the final quarter and five plus overtime session. Westminster continues to be the team to beat in Class 4A.

Scottie Barnes – the point guard

Down 40-28 at the half to a South Miami team missing its top big 2020 6’10” forward Brandon Sanders, University made a change. No. 3 nationally ranked Prep Hoops junior Scottie Barnes took over the backcourt and controlled the tempo. It resulted in a calmer pace and a much more organized offensive look. Barnes is a superb ballhandler at his 6’6″ frame and for now, he looks like the best option to handle the rock more often than not with the new guards learning the offense fully.

Drue Drinnon (New Mexico) and Trey Doomes (West Virginia) are off in college and adjustments will have to be made for University to get the most out of 2019 big man Vernon Carey Jr. (No. 4 nationally ranked Prep Hoops senior) and Barnes. Using Barnes as the point guard is the smartest move, it completely flipped the script on Wednesday.

Wesley Cardet is a pure athlete

Northeast is a much younger unit than a season prior and it is going to take some time and patience to get the ball rolling. But one player that is ready for the big spotlight is 2021 guard Wesley Cardet. The lengthy 6’5″ point man has continued his hot play from the summer. He broke a Hoop Hall Invitational record with 31 points in a loss to North Miami. Cardet had a late free throw that gave him the record.

Trying to do as much as possible, Cardet did account for too many turnovers, but that can be fixed with more patience and help from his teammates. In his defense, Northeast was trailing by 20 plus points later and he was simply trying to make plays on the break.

Damari Monsanto stretches the floor

You always know when Damari Monsanto is on the court. The 2019 6’6″ guard/forward is a dangerous athlete. He can shoot from deep at a high clip, penetrate a defense with his strong ball skills and he hustles back defensively. Monsanto scored a team-high 21 points in the loss to a scrappy Norland group.

He had 11 points at the break and started off early in the first quarter with success. Monsanto is going to command double teams this season at Western and he should still be able to create plenty.

Stranahan has impressive chemistry

Between 2019 guard Brian Dugazon and 2020 starters, guard Chayse Culpepper and forward Inady Legiste, the trio work so well together. The result wasn’t what Stranahan wanted against a scrappy and loud Miami Christian squad, but the Dragons trailed by just five heading into the final quarter.

With Legiste (16 points) fouling out with around four minutes left it made life tough in the paint. He is so fundamental there and can really move inside. 2020 guard Daquion Vickers and Dave Herard get the job done in transition play. Stranahan is a team that is built for another deep playoff run after losing to eventual champion Leesburg a season ago in the Class 6A region final.