Les Schwab Invitational Final Day: Top Performers

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Posted On: 12/30/18 2:08 PM

The 23rd annual Les Schwab Invitational came to a close on Saturday night with a day full of intense competition and spectacular play as Sierra Canyon captured the championship, defeating University School (FL), 68-52.

Here’s a look at the title game and some of the other top contests of the day.

Championship: Sierra Canyon 68, University School 52

After barely missing out on the LSI two years ago, Sierra Canyon was able to capture the championship this time around with a buzzer-to-buzzer victory over University School. Using their speed and athleticism, the Trail Blazers sprinted out to an early lead and cruised to the win. Scotty Pippen Jr. put together his MVP performance with 26 points and teammate Cassius Stanley added 21, with Kenyon Martin Jr. posting a double-double of 12 points and ten rebounds. Vernon Carey Jr., who was smothered most of the game, ended up with 17 points and seven rebounds to lead the Sharks.

3rd Place: Gonzaga Prep 68, Jefferson 59

A close game most of the way, Gonzaga Prep utilized their motion offense and ability to control the tempo to eventually surge past Jefferson to capture 3rd Place. Jefferson fell behind early but hung around and actually tied the game at 57 when senior Jalen Brown hit a three with two minutes to go. But from there, the Bullpups took over as star senior Anton Watson converted a basket while getting fouled, and Gonzaga Prep never looked back. Watson finished the game with a near triple-double with 27 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists while junior wing Liam Lloyd added 15. Senior guard and Washington signee Marcus Tsohonis led Jefferson with 19 points and 14 rebounds and sophomore post Kamron Robinson added 12 points.

“Don’t get me wrong, they’re a very good team, (Anton) Waston is very good, and they’re very well coached, but they were able to take advantage of not having a shot clock,” said Jefferson head coach Pat Strickland. “We played bad as a team and a lot of it was because of the way they played because they controlled the tempo. But we’re just not doing the basics of basketball right now and we need to get back to getting focused playing basketball.”

“We’ll work the kinks out,” he continued. “2019 should being some good things for the Demos.”

5th Place: Jesuit 63, Lake Oswego 57

In an intense rematch of a game just recently played, Jesuit enacted revenge by getting an early lead and then fighting back every Lake Oswego comeback attempt in the second half. The Lakers continuously made a push in the fourth quarter but every time they got to within four, the Crusaders had an answer. Senior Justin Bieker led the way with 28 points and fellow senior Aiden Williams added 14. Sophomore Wayne McKinney led LO with 14 points, with senior Josh Angle adding 12 points and 14 rebounds and junior guard Casey Graver had a breakout game with 12 points off the bench.

“We’re just trying hard to get better,” said Jesuit head coach Gene Potter.  “We wanted to come into the LSI and play hard for four games and from the opening tip of the first game to the last buzzer are we improving as a team.  And I think we did – we made some real strides against some real quality opponents.”

Consolation: Skyview 86, Grant 74

In the consolation championship game, Skyview took control early and never looked back as they upended Grant. Senior guard Alex Schumacher finished off a great tournament run with a team-high 23 points and sophomore guard Squeeky Johnson added 20, with five of his six threes in the first half. Grant was paced by senior guard and Vermont signee Aaron Deloney who scored a career-high – and LSI tournament record – 47 points.

“It means a lot for us – we feel in the Vancouver area that we have some really good basketball,” said Skyview head coach Matt Gruhler.  “I’m a Portland guy and I know that sometimes people from Portland and Oregon don’t really pay attention to anything that’s going on just across the river.  So for our guys we had a lot of school pride, city pride, county pride that we could come in and show we could compete with these guys.”

Here are the top performers on the day:

Scotty Pippen, Jr. (2019 Sierra Canyon) – The senior point guard put up some big-time numbers in the final on his way to earning MVP honors for the entire tournament. Against University School, his entire game was on display. Pippen showed off an incredibly smooth stroke from beyond the arc, hitting 6-for-10 from three, but also attacked the basket with his athleticism, throwing down no fewer than three dunks. He added five assists, two rebounds, and two steals as well.

Cassius Stanley (2019 Sierra Canyon) – The senior guard finished off a solid tournament run with an all-around 21-point, seven rebound, four assist performance. As he did all weekend long, Stanley utilized his athleticism to create off the dribble but also showed enough touch from the outside to drain a three.

Vernon Carey, Jr (2019 University School) – The mammoth 6-foot-10 post was largely locked up all night by Sierra Canyon but still came through with 17 points and seven rebounds. As he did in previous games, Carey displayed some unexpected ball-handling skills as he took the ball coast to coast a couple of times and finished at the basket.

Anton Watson (2019 Gonzaga Prep) – Watson’s near triple-double performance might have been tops on the night. The senior was assertive on offense, posting up strong and creating off the dribble, but you never got the sense he was ball hogging in the least. He often drifted out to the perimeter where he looked to run the offense and find open teammates cutting to the basket. And when you least expected it, he would come flying in and dunking the rebound of a miss. With his blend of athleticism and skills, one would expect he would make an impact for Gonzaga from day one.

Sheadon Byrd (2019 Gonzaga Prep) – The 6-foot-1 senior is likely overlooked most of the time he’s on the floor, but he made his mark at the LSI. Byrd simply played incredible team ball and would often sneak in and cut backdoor to get easy buckets. He helped out on the boards, handled the ball and passed well, and was gritty defensively.

Marcus Tsohonis (2019 Jefferson) – For a long while, the Demos were getting lulled to sleep by Gonzaga Prep’s motion offense but Tsohonis tried his best to make things happen. It might have been the most active we’ve seen the 6-foot-4 senior play so far this season as he was constantly looking to create on offense and he really battled on the boards with what might have been a career-high with 14 rebounds. Tsohonis didn’t shoot a high percentage (7-for-20) but many of those misses were converted via offensive rebounds.

Nate Rawlins-Kibonge (2021 Jefferson) – The 6-foot-7 sophomore was somewhat limited the entire tournament with a banged-up knee, but he showed some toughness against Gonzaga Prep. He was tentative offensively, but Rawlins-Kibonge clogged the lane and used his length and athleticism to tally seven blocked shots. He also grabbed eight rebounds and showed off some of his passing skills by dishing out four assists.

Justin Bieker (2019 Jesuit) – Bieker was named Mr. Hustle of the tournament and that title was definitely deserved after his performance on Saturday. He was all over the court on both ends and was extremely effective using his length and ranginess around the basket, shooting 10-for-16 from the field with several of them acrobatic finishes. Bieker was extremely active in the passing lanes too, nabbing six steals.

Casey Graver (2020 Lake Oswego) – Graver was one of the surprises of the day as he really stepped up and was extremely competitive against Jesuit. The 6-foot-4 wing hit jumpers but also really battled on defense, in some ways getting under the skin of his opponents. Graver had some big buckets during each of Lake Oswego’s mini runs in the second half.

Alex Schumacher (2019 Skyview) – Schumacher did exactly what he did all-tournament long, assume control of the game on the offensive end and scoring in a number of different ways from hitting long range shots to creating off the dribble, often drawing contact for free throw line opportunities. He didn’t just create for himself either, dishing out for six assists often finding open teammates out on the perimeter for open threes.

Squeeky Johnson (2020 Skyview) – Johnson was on fire in the first half, knocking down 5-for-7 from three-point range. It cooled down in the second half, but he focused on taking care of the ball and finding teammates (five assists) and being active on the defensive end (four steals).

Aaron Deloney (2019 Grant) – How did the Vermont-bound senior log his tournament record 47 points? Surprisingly enough it wasn’t just on long-range shooting – although he did hit 3-for-9 from three-point range – but Deloney drove to the basket relentlessly either scoring with acrobatic layups or drawing contact where he was near automatic at the line (14-for-17). Grant needed every one of his points to stay in the ballgame but Deloney found some time to dish out a team-high three assists as well.

Ben Gregg (2021 Columbia Christian) – We didn’t get to see Gregg’s performance on Saturday as he played in an early game, but we sure wish we did as it was quite the show.  How can you not mention his 30 points, 17 rebounds, and three blocks while hitting the game-winning shot in overtime?  There’s a reason Gregg has been picking up more major college scholarship offers and even more will be on their way as college coaches continue to get wind of his skills and vast potential.