Hoodie’s House of Hoops Classic held at Rocky River High School

Ravens Christian Rudisell with a nice reverse lay-up. (Paul Imirie)
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There were three local teams who participated and competed in the holiday tournament. The teams included the Rocky River Ravens, Myers Park Mustangs, and third-place finish for the bronze was the Carmel Christian School from Matthews. Other North Carolina teams include Northside Christian Academy and United Faith Christian Academy. Each team was able to play 3 games during the tournament and were invited to participate in the Dick’s Sporting Goods “High Flyin’ – Rim Rockin” Dunk Contest.

Carmel Christian 61 – Orlando Christian 87/Carmel Christian 81-Henry Clay 69

Carmel Christian lost a big game to the tournament runner-up Orlando Christian Prep from Florida in a surprising fourth-period blow-out being outscored 37-19 in a close contest until then. The score was 30-28 at the half, 50-42 in favor of Orlando after three periods.

The leading scorer for Carmel was Kenny Gwynn with 15 points and 5 rebounds. While Miles Hunter contributed 11 along with Kyle Bean who also added 11 points in the loss. This set-up the consolation game against Henry Clay from Kentucky.

The Cougars defeated Henry Clay 81-69 to earn the third-place trophy. Elijah Gray netted 18 points and hauled down 11 rebounds for the double double to lead his team to victory. Meanwhile, Miles Hunter scored 16, Kenny Gwynn 11, Justin Taylor 10, and Glenn Byunum contributed 9 points in the contest.

Rocky River 67 – Lancaster (SC) 48

The Ravens shot extremely well and played a fast-paced up-tempo basketball game against a solid opponent Lancaster High School from South Carolina. The Bruins from Lancaster surprised Myers Park in the opening round defeating them in a 60-55 loss.

Calike “Duke” Thomas with a jump shot. (Paul Imirie)

In the first half, Rocky River took a 36-28 lead behind the shooting of Calik Thomas who scored 11 points and Tobias Forte with 8 points. The team shooting percentage improved dramatically from 25% in the previous game to 70% which made a huge difference. This includes 66.7% from the 3-point range through the intermission.

In the second half, the running Ravens continued their fast-paced transition game along with playing solid defense to outscore the Bruins 31-20. Rocky River kept the pressure on by trapping the Bruins leading to turnovers. The home team shot an excellent 68.3% for the game from the floor, and 63.6% for the contest around the 3-point perimeter. They also shot 50% from the free-throw line which needs to improve. However, it did not impact this particular game.

Calik “Duke” Thomas led all scorers with 19 points, while Stephon Richards contributed 11,  Nick Burns 10, Christian Rudisell 10 and Tobias 10 points. The Ravens had a team 26 rebounds and 9 steals compared to 20 rebounds for the Bruins with 6 steals all leading to scoring opportunities.

Myers Park 51 – Rocky River 34 

The Mustangs from Myers Park redeemed themselves on the same basketball court when they lost in an upset in a Southwestern 4A contest against the Ravens. In an identically styled basketball game with the rolls and final outcome completely reversed, it was the Mustangs who adjusted and learned from the defeat with the Ravens coming out on top  51-36 in their first encounter.

Myers Park Drake Maye swishes a jump shot. (Paul Imirie)

The Ravens did not shoot well or play with the same intensity they played with the first time against Myers Park. Rocky River certainly could not match the fast-paced tempo they enjoyed in the win over Lancaster.

In the first half, the Mustangs took a slim 20-17 advantage at the intermission. However, the Mustangs leading scorer and best athlete Drake Maye was not much of a factor. Based on the flow of the game, he was only able to take several shots and was held to just one point. However, Maye did grab 6 rebounds in the first half while providing 2 assists in 12 minutes. Kameron Mack contributed 7 points along with Kaden Elasaar and Elijah Strong both contributing 4 points. For the Ravens, Calik Thomas kept Rocky River within striking distance scoring 8 points with 4 rebounds, and Stephon Richards contributing 4 points and 5 rebounds.

In the second half, the best player on the court Drake Maye took over under the boards, with crisp and accurate passing, power moves to the basket, excellent court vision and understanding of the game took full advantage scoring 18 points, added 3 assists, and shot 9-10 or 90% from the free-throw line.

Calik “Duke” Thomas and Richards both scored 10 points and contributed 7 rebounds each to lead the Ravens. However, it was Maye scoring 19 points and 11 rebounds who prevailed and controlled the pace of this game. Kameron Mack ended the game scoring 11 points with 4 rebounds for the Mustangs in the win.

Championship Game: Saint Benedict’s (NJ) 44 – Orlando Christian(FL) 42

The team visiting from Newark, New Jersey St. Benedict’s Academy narrowly defeated Orlando Christian Prep in a hard-fought defensive battle between two high scoring basketball teams.

Tournament Champions Saint. Benedict’s. (Ed Berti)

At the end of the first half, the score was only 20-15 as both teams battled for some sort of advantage. Both teams did not shoot well based on excellent defense, solid rebounding in a very physical game.

In the second half, the battle continued, however, St. Benedict’s was able to take control of the boards with 27 rebounds compared to their opponents 20 in the contest. The Gray Bees also improved their shooting percentage to 44.4% compared to 39.5% for Orlando. Their size advantage prevailed with 7’0″ senior Abdoul Hima, and 6’8″ very physical Bangala Zaba dominating the boards down the stretch.

Zaba led all scorers with 14 points, and he grabbed 10 rebounds for the double-double. Bakarae Adetokunbo  also contributed 12 points for the Gray Bees in their title win. Meanwhile, Ven Allen Lubin scored 11 points in the loss for Orlando.

Stephon Richards with a lay-up for 2 points. (Paul Imirie)
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Ed Berti
Ed is retired and remains active as a freelance writer, local journalist and independent contractor. He is engaged in print and electronic media writing stories covering business, sports, hometown news and veteran's affairs including articles of interest to various media outlets. Ed is a graduate of Wagner College where he earned an MBA and holds a BBA from Pace University.
Ed can be reached at ed@minthilltimes.com, eberti7777@gmail.com and linkedin.com.