By James Oyola
With the 2008-2009 basketball season underway, tournaments gave many Florida schools a chance to test their strength against some of the country's top teams.
Boyd Anderson (6A), No. 6 in this week’s MaxPreps Xcellent 25, and Dillard (5A) represented South Florida in fine fashion at the Arby’s Classic in Tennessee and the Kreul Classic, respectively. Many of the region's top players also increased their value as college coaches and recruits from all over the country were on hand to witness some of the action.
Boys Basketball Top Performances
Boyd Anderson of Lauderdale Lakes continued to show why it is regarded as one of the top teams in the nation after an impressive 70-61 victory over Miller Grove of Lithonia, Ga., in the Arby's Classic Championship in Bristol, Tenn., on Dec. 31.
Senior guard Martavious Irving led the Cobras with 15 points and eight rebounds while capturing the tournament MVP honors. Cedric Flood aided the win with 14 points and Bryan Bynes chipped in with 11 as both joined Irving on the All-Tournament team.
The Cobras defeated the event’s defending champion Briarcrest Christian (Eads, Tenn.) 54-34 in the semifinal.
Miller Grove did what many couldn't do this season against Boyd Anderson in keeping the game close. The Cobras (14-0) have dominated their opponents by averaging a 26-point margin of victory.
Dillard of Fort Lauderdale snapped defending Class 3A champion Pine Crest’s 28-game win streak on Dec. 20 and reached the finals at the Hawl Kreul Classic, falling to national power St. Benedict's Prep (N.J.), 53-52.
The Gray Bees (12-0), No. 5 in this week's MaxPreps Xcellent 25, were led by highly touted junior Tristan Thompson and guard Aaron Brown. Although Thompson finished with 12 points and was named Tournament MVP, it was the late-game heroics by Brown that sealed the win. With nine seconds remaining in regulation, Brown dribbled past his defender and found the paint converting on a reverse layup to give his team the lead.
Senior guard Robert Burger had a game-high 20 points for the Panthers (10-4), while Fred Landers chipped in with 12. Dillard's stout defense held the Gray Bees, who average 75 points per game, to its lowest point total this season, but couldn't pull off the win.
Miami's Gulliver Prep (10-0) defeated Lakeview Academy (Gainesville, Ga.) 66-42 to capture the KSA Holiday Classic Championship in Orlando on Tuesday, Dec. 30.
Sophomore forward John Pierre led the way for the Raiders with a team-high 20 points, while Center Nico Lundeen aided the win with five points and 15 rebounds.
Plantation American Heritage guard Kenny Boynton continued to prove why he is regarded as one of the nation's top scorers. Boynton, a senior and University of Florida commit, led the City of Palms Classic in scoring by averaging 33.3 points per game and helped the Patriots to a 2-2 record, including a 78-73 win over Texas power Duncanville.
Four days later, the standout guard continued his scoring barrage at the Great Florida Shootout and led his team to the finals by averaging 30 points per game, which included a 48-point explosion in a 95-74 win over Dr. Phillips in the semifinals. Despite Boynton's efforts, the Patriots (8-4) fell to Metairie Park Country Day (Metairie, La.) 76-66 in the championship game on Tuesday, Dec. 30.
Girls Basketball Top Performances
Led by 6-foot-4 center Alicia DeVaughn, South Broward (11-2) – the reigning 6A state champions – defeated Baron Collier 57-35 in the girls’ Hawk Kreul Classic championship game Dec. 22 in Coral Springs.
DeVaughn led the Bulldogs with 15 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks and three steals.
Krystal Saunders aided the win with 17 points and was named the tournament's MVP.
After capturing the Kreul Classic title, South Broward went for another tournament title at the Junior Orange Bowl Classic, but fell to Nova 64-33 Dec. 30.
Junior forward Jassany Williams, who was named tournament MVP, led Nova (12-1) with a game-high 22 points and 12 rebounds as the Titans became the first team from Broward County to win the competition since the girls’ bracket was added in 1995.
Ariah Osceola led Hollywood Christian (14-1) to a 74-51 win over St. Pete's Catholic in the Indian Rocks Tournament championship game on Dec. 31. Osceola, a freshman, scored a game-high 32 points to go along with three assists.