NEW ORLEANS, La. - In a showcase of some of the best high school basketball talent from across the country, the best game was saved for last. Braxton Ogbueze hit a pair of clutch free throws with 8.5 seconds remaining and the South subsequently held on the final possession for an 86-85 win at the Lakefront Arena.
Two Louisiana players featured in the game. Riverside Academy star Ricardo Gathers led a balanced scoring effort from the South by tying for the team high with 16 points. St. Augustine product, Javan Felix struggled a bit early on with double teams while committing a game high 4 turnovers, but Felix trudged through to still dish out 5 assists and pull down 3 rebounds. Both have gotten to know each other well in their years at their respective high schools through many games- some on the same side as was the case today, and some on different sides while playing against each other during the regular season.
The first half was divided into a tale of two quarters. The South came out on fire behind the strong play of Evan Nolte (Milton H.S./Milton, GA) also hit all four of his shots from the field, and poured in 10 points as the South held a commanding 25-11 lead. The North went ice cold in the opening stanza that included a stretch of 4:06 in which they did not hit a field goal.
That script changed in the 2nd quarter, as the South's scoring dried up- they started to commit more turnovers, and were less cohesive leading to being out-paced 26-9 by the North. That gave the North a 37-34 halftime advantage. From there, the stage was set for what would be a capturing finish.
Though the South's sluggish play spilled over into the 3rd quarter as they fell behind as many as 9 points, they slowly chipped away behind the efforts of South MVP Joel James (Dwyer H.S./West Palm Beach, FL) who finished with a double double by recording 12 points and 10 rebounds. James also beat the 3rd quarter buzzer with a put-back off a missed three-pointer from Ogbueze to cut the North lead to 61-60.
The final quarter saw nothing in between the two squads- which was evidenced by the eight times the score was tied during the course of the 4th quarter. It came down to free throws, and the North had a sub-par effort in that category. They were only 18 of 34 from the charity stripe, and as a team they missed 11 of 20 free throws in the second half.
Afterward, Felix and Gathers both were cordial and joking around with each other, while expressing what an honor it was to play on the same court as some of the top talent across the nation.
The North also had a balanced effort with five players registering double figures in points. Glenn Robinson (Lake Central H.S./Schererville, IN) was named the North MVP with 16 points. Sam Dekker added 12 points, Cameron Biedscheid and Adam Woodbury each had 11, and Jeremy Hollowell added 10 points. Woodbury also had a double double in the contest while pulling down 11 boards.
In the first game, the East defeated the West 84-72 in a game that only continued to take the form of an All American contest as the game went along. Both teams started a bit tight and cold as the first eight possessions resulted in only one basket. Both teams started to warm up toward the end of the 1st stanza though, as the East was in front 22-18.
The 2nd quarter gave the East the separation needed as they out-scored the West 22-10. Included in that period was a 7-0 run to start the frame with 5 of those coming from Omar Calhoun, who was named MVP for his total effort. Calhoun finished the contest with 26 points on 8-of-12 from the field, and he also made 10 of his 11 free throws. The East was in control, leading 44-28 at halftime as the game saw more fast paced action ahead, and a mini run by the West, but never a real threat.
While the West spurted behind strong performances from West MVP, Cameron Ridley (Bush H.S./Richmond, TX) who had 16 points, and Andrew Harrison (Travis H.S./Richmond TX) added 13 points, the deficit was just too much to overcome. The East squad had built up as large as an 18-point lead, when Nate Britt made a basket to start the 3rd quarter, and put the East lead at 46-28.
The West deficit would get no closer than 5, while making their biggest run of the game, a 13-5 spurt that encompassed nearly the final four minutes of the 3rd. Matt Jones hit a 3-pointer to pull the West deficit to 64-59 with 6:04 remaining in the game. The East answered with back-to-back buckets to grow the lead back to 9 points, and they held serve from there until the finish.
Ricardo Ledo added 15 points to the winning effort for the East, and Britt had a game high, 6 assists. L.J. Rose was the third scorer in double figures for the West with 10 points.
Four accomplished Louisiana coaches were also part of the event as assistants- St. Thomas Aquinas coach Errol Gauff (South), Jesuit coach Chris Jennings (East), Brother Martin coach Bill Gallagher (West) and John Curtis coach Mike Krajcer (North).
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