Fort Myers, Fla. – From the opening tipoff of the first game of the 2015 City of Palms Classic to the final whistle of the last matchup of the night, energy was flowing at Bishop Verot High School.
Five games were played on the first day of the schedule, including four between teams that are in the 16-team traditional bracket, and another that showcased two very competitive Florida squads.
Here’s a look at what and who stood out in Friday’s opening action at the City of Palms Classic
Aminu and Perry lead Wheeler to victory
In the first game of the tournament, Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) defeated Wesleyan Christian (High Point, NC) 64-58 in a back and forth battle. The game was tied at the half before Wheeler, the defending City of Palms Classic champions, did just enough to earn the victory.
Led by North Florida commit and senior center Al-Wajid Aminu’s 18 point, seven rebound, three block and three steal performance, the Wildcats won. The 6’8″ Aminu shot 7-of-8 from the field and really came on in the second half. Junior guard Derius Perry also had 18 points while senior center Romello White, a Georgia Tech commit, had 13 points, five rebounds and two blocks. Wheeler will play the winner of Saturday’s Chaminade-Bartow matchup on Monday.
Battle of the No. 1’s with Norland and West Linn
A low scoring game took place in the second matchup of the day as Norland (Miami, Fla.) beat West Linn (Ore.), 50-39. University of Miami commit and forward Dewan Huell had a team-high 24 points along with seven rebounds. The 6’10” senior did it all for his squad, as he shot 8-of-14 from the field, 8-of-12 from the free throw line and added seven boards.
Huell was hands down the most powerful player on his team and will have to be once again on Saturday in the quarterfinal round against a big Patrick School (N.J.) group. As for West Linn, senior point guard and Oregon commit Payton Pritchard had 20 points and six rebounds as his team struggled overall, shooting just 28 percent from the field. He has a nice future as another option at the collegiate level.
Kevin Knox is a name you need to know
In the lone matchup that didn’t have any repercussions for the tournament, in the round called the ‘Sunshine Series’, No. 10 ranked junior by Scout.com, forward Kevin Knox, exploded with a team-high 27 points and 12 rebounds for Tampa Catholic. Tampa Catholic, 6-1 in Class 3A, defeated Charlotte (Fla.) 66-54 as the 6’8″ Knox dunked often and drove to the rack with ease. His counterpart, senior point guard and Oklahoma State commit Thomas Dziagwa had 23 points.
The Porter brothers go off in win
Father Tolton Catholic (Columbia, MO) junior forward Michael Porter Jr. has yet to commit to a college program, but the 6’9″, 215-pounder showed all the scouts that he has serious talent in an 81-65 win over Lehigh (Fla.). Along with his younger brother Jontay, a sophomore and Washington commit, the duo combined for 54 points and 27 rebounds.
Michael had 34 points and 17 rebounds along with two blocks, shooting 9-of-17 from the field overall. Jontay added 20 and 10 with a team-high three blocks. This team will play Westerville South (Ohio) on Saturday night in the quarterfinal round and could make it further simply because of the play of these two brothers. Michael is tremendous on the court inside and out.
A trio of Ball brothers impress in the game of the day
The two teams combined to score 181 points in the final game of the night between Chino Hills (Ca.) and Thomas Jefferson (N.Y.). Chino Hills got the last laugh as Lonzo Ball blocked two shot attempts to hold onto a 91-90 lead with three seconds left.
Lonzo, the oldest of three brothers, had 22 points, 10 assists, five blocks and five rebounds. All three are committed to UCLA while Li’Angelo, a 6’6″ junior, had a team-best 28 points and seven boards. The youngest, LaMelo, a 5’10” freshman, recorded 12 points and five rebounds.
This game went back and forth the entire night as Chino Hills ran the court with ease, using outlet passes and skilled passing with their featured brother trio throughout. Thomas Jefferson kept up as St. Johns commit Shamorie “Slic” Ponds added 40 points, the highest scorer on the day.
Chino Hills plays the winner of Spain Park (Al.)-Montverde (FL) on Monday night in the quarterfinal round. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Chino Hills against Montverde would make for one heck of a game.