Memphis East and Montverde Academy (Fla.) will meet in Friday night’s Tournament of Champions semifinals. Here’s a recap of their quarterfinal victories on Friday.
Montverde’s defensive pressure smothers Kickapoo
Kickapoo’s pregame scouting report said Montverde Academy (Fla.) was a long, quick and athletic team armed with a number of high-level college prospects.
The Eagles, ranked No. 2 nationally by USA Today, did nothing to make the Chiefs think otherwise in Thursday’s Tournament of Champions quarterfinals meeting.
Montverde’s athleticism, depth and talent controlled the game from start to finish against Missouri’s Class 5 runner-up from a season ago, winning 74-40 as four players scored in double figures.
“Their defensive pressure is so good,” said Chiefs coach Dick Rippee. “You watch it (on film) and you worry if you can just pass and catch. That’s what we were really concerned about doing. They sped us up, made us play faster, take some bad shots – some quick shots. We really had a hard time getting some separation by ourselves against their athleticism.”
Kickapoo struggled with its early shooting, making only one first-quarter field goal in nine attempts. The Chiefs trailed 14-4 after the first quarter, 35-19 at halftime and shot 6-for-19 from the field in the first half.
Montverde also pounded Kickapoo on the glass (33-18 edge in rebounding), and forced the Chiefs into 16 turnovers. The Eagles shot 50 percent from the field as a team (27-for-54), compared to 35 percent by Kickapoo (14-for-39).
“We have a long way to go as a team, but at the same time, we’re not going to play anybody better than (Montverde) the rest of the way,” Rippee said. “It was a great experience to play against guys that are college ready. They have eight or nine guys that are ready to contribute in college right now.”
Rechon Black, a 6’7” junior guard who has verbally committed to play at North Carolina, led four Montverde players in double figures with 15 points. Kickapoo’s Jared Ridder, a Xavier commit, scored a game-high 19 points, making 4 of 11 3-point attempts.
“He’s a really tough player (to defend),” said Montverde coach Kevin Boyle, Sr. “He was obviously forcing some shots at the end, but it’s hard not to because he’s trying to keep them in the game. He had a really good second quarter. He’s a terrific player, great shooter.”
Montverde’s win sets it up for a third meeting against Memphis East this season. Montverde won 63-54 in the City of Palms Classic in late December, while Memphis East won 75-73 on a last-second shoot last weekend in Memphis.
“We know Greenforest is big and a different type of team to play,” Boyles said. “Memphis (East), obviously, it would be a heated game if we played again a third time.”
Montverde Academy (Fla.) 14 21 26 13 — 74
Kickapoo 4 15 13 8 — 40
Montverde – Rechon Black 15, Marcus Carr 13, Andrew Mebhard 12, R.J. Barrett 12, Cameron Healy 6, Grant Shephard 6, Sandro Mamukelashvili 6, Jake Betlow 3, Akol Mawein 1
Kickapoo – Jared Ridder 19, Cam Davis 10, Isaac Blakeslee 3, Donyae McCaskill 3, Mitch Closser 2, Tanner Oetting 2, Travis Vokolek 1
Obiagu swats 10 shots, but Memphis East’s shooting carries Mustangs to victory
Memphis East, ranked No. 3 nationally by USA Today, plays an elite-level schedule and has faced its fair share of talented big men.
Greenforest (Ga.) senior Ikey Obiagu, a Florida State commit, was the latest paint-patrolling big man to face the Mustangs. Obigau tallied 10 blocks, two away from tying the single-game tournament record of 12 set by Branson’s Steven Hill in 2004, but it was Memphis East prevailing 63-56 thanks to some efficient perimeter shooting.
“He’s great at what he does,” Memphis East coach Penny Hardaway said of Obiagu. “He’s one of the best we’ve seen this year. But we’ve faced some guys that sit in there: Wendell Clark, who is going to Duke and Nick Richards, who is going to Kentucky. Those guys are 6’8, 6’9”, 6’10” and they’re in the paint blocking shots as well. We’ve faced that.
“We should have played better today. He should not have had 10 blocks.”
Memphis East countered Greenforest’s front line of the 7-foot Obiagu, and 6’10” Abayomi Iyiola by making 7 of 15 3-point attempts. The Mustangs were never quite able to put the game away until the final minutes though, due to 26 turnovers.
Chandler Lawson led Memphis East with 14 points plus eight rebounds. Jayden Hardaway, Penny’s son, scored 11 on 3-for-5 shooting from deep. Sophomore forward Antavion Collum came off the bench to score 10, and hit consecutive 3-pointers over Obiagu in the third quarter.
“We knew the way (Greenforest) played, that they pack the paint and they were going to give us an opportunity to knock down some shots,” Penny Hardaway said. “We did it, but we off-set it with some turnovers.”
David Quimby led Greenforest – which shot only 5-for-20 on 3-point attempts – with 16 points. Obiagu flirted with a triple-double with a final stat line of 10 points, nine rebounds and 10 blocks. He’s averaging around 7.5 blocks for the season.
Memphis East plays Montverde for the third time in less than 30 days in Friday’s semifinals.
“The first two games were knock-down, drag-out, haymaker fights,” Penny Hardaway said. “In Florida, it went down to the end and in Memphis, it went down to the end. Tomorrow, we know what each other’s going to run, it’s just about little minor adjustments and who wants it the most.”
Greenforest 9 12 15 20 — 56
Memphis East 13 19 17 14 — 63
Greenforest – David Quimby 16, Justin Forrest 10, Ikey Obiagu 10, Abayomi Iyiola 9, Jandan Duggan 4, Michael Evans 2, Victor Enoh 2, Terrell Sanders 2, Mohamma Abdulsalam 1
Memphis East – Chandler Lawson 14, Jayden Hardaway 11, Antavion Collum 10, Nick Merriweather 7, Alex Lomax 7, Malcom Dandridge 6, T.J. Moss 6, Radariou Washington 2