Day 6 of the Holiday Hoops provided us with a little Sunday basketball action.
My first stop was back over to Meremac to check out the Coaches vs. Cancer Holiday Tournament. Before the quarterfinals games started, I watched a pretty exciting consolation bracket game between Lindbergh and Soldan. The Tigers held a four-point lead over Lindbergh in the last minute, but the Flyers rallied late to pull out a 51-49 victory. Lindbergh has a pretty nice 6’5″ forward in junior Greg Lahm. He scored a game-high 20 points. He is active and good around that basket. His teammates do a good job of finding him inside where he can operate. Soldan has a group of pretty good athletes, led by 6’3″ junior Courtney Barlow, who displayed a nice turnaround baseline jumper. I also liked senior Therrie Harris, a thick 6’1″ guard who scored 16 points. He can really shoot the ball from the mid-range and the 3-point line. Guards Christian Simms and Ronald Scott are both quick.
In the first quarterfinal game, Hazelwood Central took on DeSmet. The No. 2 seed Hawks came away with a 60-49 victory over DeSmet. Junior forward Xavier Sneed led the Hawks with 23 points. The 6’5″ small forward continues to get better each time I see him. As a sophomore, Xavier could shoot the 3-pointer off the catch and give you some highlight reel dunks. Now, he is turning into an offensive weapon. He is knocking down mid-range shots, creating off the dribble and shooting 3’s in transition. X has put in a lot of work on his game with Corey Frazier and the folks at W.I.T.T.S and you can see it paying off. Very, very impressive. Fellow 6’5″ junior forward Dominique Dobbs is also emerging as another excellent player in this loaded Class of 2016. Dobbs does most of his damage around the basket. He scores in side and rebounds, rebounds, rebounds. Senior forward Marcus George, 6’7″ did a nice job of closing down the middle on defense for Central. The Hawks are a very talented and athletic outfit, and they are junior dominated. The future is as bright as the present. The key to the Hawks continued success is guard play and much of that falls to junior point guard Steve Holloway, a crafty 5’10 southpaw. Freshman Shaun Williams has a chance to be a good one as well. I thought DeSmet did a good job of competing in this game. After falling behind 24-8 after the first quarter, the Spartans did a nice job of fighting back into it and making it a game. Junior guard Dillon Gilkey was the catalyst in DeSmet putting up a fight. The 6’1″ junior displayed some slick ball handling and passing, plus he knocked down some 3-pointers. He played with a lot of confidence. Sophomore forward Ryan Stipanovich also has a nice offensive game at 6’5″ and versatile. He put the ball on the floor well and got to the basket. He is going to be a good one. Junior 6’7″ post Rick Hill is an effective rebounder and shot blocker inside.
In the final game, Kirkwood took on Springfield Kickapoo, the No. 1 team in Class 5. I was looking forward to seeing the Chiefs in action and I wasn’t disappointing as they defeated a good Kirkwood team 82-53. Kirkapoo is deep and they play at a very fast pace, but very organized. They had a 6’6″ sophomore named Jared Ridder, who was lighting it up from everywhere on the perimeter. He finished with 29 points. Man, this kid can shoot. What I liked most about this team is that they really move that ball around and find the open man. Much of that can be attributed to 6’3″ senior guard Tyson Batiste, who has signed with Arkansas-Little Rock. Senior Jack Simpson is a stocky 5’10 guard who can also shoot the rock. The Chiefs also have some nice pieces off the bench. Definitely a contender in Class 5 when March rolls around.
In this evening’s semifinals, Webster Groves will take on Vianney at 5 p.m. followed by Kickapoo vs. Hazelwood Central at 6:30 p.m.
The hospitality room was alive and kicking at Meramec as well. Last night, you could get a variety of pasta dishes, a variety of chicken wings, sandwiches, salads and sweets. It was very good. A Four-Basketball rating on a scale of Five.
I then rolled over to Visitation for the final games of its Christmas Tournament. In the third-place game, St. Joseph’s Academy toppled Parkway North 64-58. Senior point guard Mary Barton of St. Joe’s put on a show with a game-high 27 points and several nice dimes. She scored half of those points in the fourth quarter and the Angels held off a Vikings’ rally. She handled the ball, got to the basket and hit shots. There should be a “Wanted” poster with Truman State coach Amy Eagan’s photo on it for coming into St. Louis and stealing a Division I point guard.
In the championship game, No. 1 seed Incarnate Word took on No. 2 seed Kirkwood. It proved to be a mismatch as Incarnate Word rolled to a 59-33 victory and its seventh straight Viz title. Senior All-American Napheesa Collier did it all for IWA with 35 points, 14 rebounds and several blocks, steals and assists. She made her biggest impact on the defensive end early when she blocked four shots in the first quarter and had two steals. In the past two nights, Incarnate’s team defense was what made the difference as they swarmed St. Joe’s and Kirkwood like a bunch of locusts. That had to make coach Dan Rolfes more happy than anything. Collier also got some offensive support from guard Katie Lacefield and junior Abbey Hoff. When Kirkwood tried to surround Collier on defense early, they nailed open 3-pointers while freshman Sonya Morris followed up with a couple of short jumpers of her own. That pretty much made it a wrap. Despite the setback, it was a good tournament for Kirkwood and its talented young cast. Sophomore forward Lauryn Miller scored a team-high 16 points while junior guard Jordan Roundtree added 11 points. The Pioneers are very young and have a big upside as a team. I look forward to watching them develop.
The All-Tournament Team at Visitation (pictured) consists of (left to right) Lauryn Miller (Kirkwood), Alecia Sutton (Parkway North), Napheesa Collier (Incarnate Word), Lexi Moe (Fort Zumwalt North), Abbey Hoff (Incarnate Word), Mary Barton (St. Joseph’s), Emma Mitchell (Visitation) and Jaida Stewart (Webster Groves).
On Day 7, I will be headed back to Collinsville for some quarterfinals action, then over to MICDS for the semifinals, then over to O’Fallon to see the championship game of the St. Dominic Tournament between Fort Zumwalt South and Sikeston.
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