Posted On: 12/29/18 2:23 PM
Prep Hoops was in the building for a full slate of games at the Neosho Holiday Classic Friday as well as the annual Three-Point and Slam Dunk competitions. Here is our recap of the top performances from throughout the action packed day!
Bentonville (AR) vs Morrilton (AR):
Bentonville is one of the most well coached and fundamentally sound teams we have seen so far this season. It was a very balanced attack for the Tigers who rolled to a 68-28 win over Morrilton. 6’5 Jr Colton Simmons was lights out from beyond the arc, burying three from range in a big first quarter. His length and shotting stroke project well at the next level. 6’3 Sr Connor Deffebaugh showed his playmaking ability as well. He has a tight handle, quick first step, and slashed to the rim aggressively. He’s a high IQ player with great instinct that scored on a nice backdoor cut and threw a beautiful lob to his big man 6’6 Sr Michael Shanks for an emphatic flush. Morrilton was paced by 6’1 Sr Xavier Wright who has a very strong pull-up game and was automatic from mid-range. Bentonville advances to the championship game of the Black Bracket against Craigmont at 5:30 Saturday.
Joplin vs Bentonville West (AR):
The fact that this was a consolation game speaks volumes to the level of talent and competition at the Neosho Holiday Classic. Both teams are very talented and well coached. Joplin jumped out to an early 17-5 lead due in large part to some intense and intimidating pressure defense. Bentonville West settled in, cut the deficit to 3 at the half and it was a back and forth contest from there. In the end, Joplin used an early 4th quarter run to pull away for a 62-53 win. It was the highflying duo of 6’1 Jr Zach Westmoreland and 6’2 Jr Evan Guillory who shouldered the load for the “Joplin Jammers”. They had 21 and 18 points respectively. Bentonville West was led by sharp-shooter (more on that later) 6’4 Sr Dawson Bailey who can create scoring opportunities in a variety of ways but loves to fill it up from deep. 6’2 Jr Jonas Higson was key in the Wolverine rally. He is a freight train in the paint and was relentless on the offensive glass. He had several key boards and put backs and finished well with contact, sparking the big comeback.
Craigmont (TN) vs Ruskin:
The other semi-final match-up of the Black Bracket appeared to be a route early on. Craigmont rolled to a 27-13 halftime lead behind strong showings by 6’1 Sr Caleb Mosley and 5’8 So Antonio Johnson. Whatever Coach Ray Hughes told his Ruskin Eagles at the half worked, and they came storming back in the second half on the backs of their back-court combo of 6’1 Sr Kalun Baker and 5’11 Jr Tyrone Moore. After a number of ties and lead changes in the 4th quarter the game came down to the final seconds. With 7.2 seconds remaining and Craigmont holding a 50-49 lead, Ruskin got the ball to Moore who got a look from the top of the key that fell short and secured a spot in the title game for Craigmont tomorrow night against Bentonville.
Memphis-Mitchell vs Maumelle (AR):
The first semi-final match-up in the Gold Bracket had a similar feel. Maumelle was red hot to start the game racing to a 41-31 half-time lead. Mitchell did not fold. They clawed their way back into the game cutting it to two by the end of the 3rd and forcing overtime. The Tigers were money from the charity stripe in extra time and walked away with a come from behind 78-74 win. 6’0 Sr Michael Rice was huge for Mitchell. He finished with 31 points. He is a fearless slasher who does not shy away from contact at the rim. He lived at the free throw line and cashed in on his opportunities. 6’0 Sr Mikell Rice had 18 for the Tigers. He is another hard to guard slasher who showed off some range to three as well. Maumelle was paced by 6’4 Sr Brahm Harris who by all accounts is one of the more underrated prospects in the state of Arkansas. He scored the first 9 points of the game in route to a 30 point outing. He is a big, versatile wing who can score it in every way. He has deep range, a lethal pull-up jumper, and can drive it and finish above the rim. 6’1 So Josh Denton nailed three big triples for the Hornets and 5’11 Jr Courtney Lawrence finished in double figures.
West Memphis (AR) vs Villa Angela St. Joseph (OH):
The second Gold Bracket semi-final was loaded with star-power. Both teams were coming off impressive opening round victories and this was a much anticipated match-up. West Memphis set the tone right from the tip with a Sports Center Top 10 worth alley-oop jam and rolled to a 69-53 statement win. The Blue Devils will face Memphis-MItchell in tomorrow’s Gold Bracket title game. They were led by star 6’6 Jr Chris Moore who finished with 28 points and 14 rebounds. Moore is a freakish athlete and physical specimen. He had several highlight dunks, dominated the boards, and showed off great footwork and touch from the block. The Power 5 offers keep rolling in for him and whoever he chooses is in for a treat. 5’6 Sr Cavin Paige battled foul trouble throughout but still managed to finish with a double-double of his own. He had 10 points and 11 assists. The ultra-quick guard has elite court-vision and can thread the needle with the best of them. 5’9 Jr Immanuel Hoard was big for the Blue Devils as well. He is an elite shooter and finished with 18 points of his own. Villa Angela St. Joseph was led by 5’11 Jr Jaden Hameed. He was one of the more impressive prospects we have seen this week. The electric guard has certainly been raising his stock as of late and was up for the challenge against a top notch opponent last night. He is a big time scorer that proved to be extremely difficult to contain.
3 Point Shootout/Slam Dunk Contest:
One of the highlights of the Neosho Holiday Classic is their 3 Point Shootout and Slam Dunk Contest which was the nightcap on Friday. In front of a packed gym, it gives prospects a unique opportunity to showcase their skills under the lights.
The championship round of the 3 Point Shootout featured 5’10 Sr Michael Lorthridge from Ruskin and 6’4 Sr Dawson Bailey from Bentonville West. Lorthridge was impressive posting scores of 17 and 16 in his two rounds but it was the long range bomber from the Natural State, Bailey, who stole the show. He posted scores of 20 and 21 and sent the crowd into a frenzy by burying his entire final rack in the championship round.
The Slam Dunk Contest came down to 6’7 Latrace Jackson from Villa Angela St. Joseph and 6’2 Jr Evan Guillory from Joplin. Both had the gym rocking in the first round. Jackson threw down an impressive windmill and Guillory a two-handed 360 jam. Both high-flyers attempted some All-Star Weekend worthy dunks in the championship round but in the end the winner was Guillory who leaped over a teammate for a two-handed smash.
Kudos to Neosho for putting on an excellent event. For more analysis, highlights, and videos give @CWilkScout a follow on twitter