PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.)
boys basketball coach Joe Lods was the first to admit it. Harvard-Westlake's (North Hollywood, Calif.)
71-69 triumph over his Cardinals in the first round of the MaxPreps Holiday Classic premier Invitational Division was a humdinger.
"The fans definitely got their money's worth," Lods said. "It was very entertaining, back-and-forth game."
All was delightful but the finish. At least from the Cardinals' perspective.
With the score knotted at 69 following a clutch 3-point bucket from Hayes 6-7 junior
with 7.5 seconds left, Harvard-Westlake super 6-foot-5 junior Derick Newton
dribbled frantically up court and went up to pass to a wide open teammate underneath the bucket. Tyler Wilson
however, stripped Newton of the ball and started down the other way when the whistle blew.
Wilson, a savvy 6-foot guard who had 15 points, was called for his fifth personal.
Wilson seemed in disbelief and the Hayes bench, chirpy but subdued the entire game, let the referee who called the foul know it.
"We came all the way across country for that call?" an assistant yelled.
In the double bonus, Newton, one of the top juniors in the country who was contained most of the night, swished both free throws and a desperation attempt at the buzzer by Hayes wasn't close.
Lods, whose team left New York at 6:30 a.m. EDT and played in the final game of the tourney, was subdued and tired afterward, but clearly disappointed by the call.
"That's a tough call with three seconds left," he said. "My feeling is you want the kids to decide the game not a call or free throws."
When asked if he was indeed fouled on the play, Newton didn't smirk or hesitate.
"Oh yeah, he got me," he said. "Right across the left wrist. If he doesn't do that, we have a wide open layup."
Not only that, but if the referee let it go, Wilson was off to the races the other way and probably gets a pretty good look at a game-winning shot.
"I couldn't tell from where I was standing but the referee was standing right there and he didn't hesitate," Harvard-Westlake coach Greg Hilliard, who entered the season with a sterling 708-276 record.
This one had exceptional ebb-and-flow and no team led by more than four in the fourth quarter. There were four ties in the fourth and seven lead changes.
Harvard-Westlake (7-2), which was led by 22 points from gritty 5-10 junior guard Michael Sheng
and 14 from hot-shooting Francis Hyde, outscored Hayes 27-25 in the final stanza.
Hyde drilled two 3-pointers following go-ahead buckets by Hayes (6-2) and Sheng had one. Ramel Coleman
had 15 points for the Cardinals, who continue to play without 6-7 Nathan Ekwu
(knee injury) and 6-10
Ak Ojo (eligibility). Both should make their debuts some time in January which should improve their No. 4 state ranking.
"That helped," Hilliard said. "Two big bodies would have helped them for sure. Especially those two big bodies."
Said Lods: "Of course they would help and we'll be happy to have them all together. But we play hard without them. We've shown we can win without them. We're etting better and better. … Give Harvard-Westlake credit. They earned that win."
More news and notes from Day 1 in the 16-team Invitational. Winfield debut
Penn-commit David Winfield
, son of the former Yankees outfield by the same name, made his 2012-13 debut and played well in spots with six points, nine rebounds and a couple blocks.
The raw 6-9 senior looked gassed at points, showed soft hands and made three interior buckets, two on nice feeds from Newton. He missed the team's first eight games due to a knee injury last winter that led to surgery in August.
"I was a little tired at times out there," said the soft spoken and bashful Winfield. "But it felt good to be out there. It was hard sitting out but I realize it was part of my process."
Winfield, a splitting image of his father, who was in the stands cheering on the Wolverines, played competitive basketball for the first time in the 10th grade.
"He's a big body, a hard worker and a shot blocker," Hilliard said. "He's a big asset."
Said Newton: "He takes all sorts of pressure of him inside. I love having the big guy back."
Lods, who is making his first visit to California, hadn't heard about the younger Winfield and didn't make the connection until he saw pops in the stands.
"Yankee Stadium is just right around the corner from Cardinal Hayes," Lods said. "So we're all very familiar with Dave Winfield. I just didn't know he had a son playing basketball."Street fight
New York City, where Hayes players are from, is known to build tough kids and players. North Hollywood, where Harvard-Westlake sits, isn't associated with grit or brawn.
But the Wolverines never broke, which was what pleased Hillard most.
"I liked our game-ness," he said. "We kept fighting back. We showed our scrapiness." Earlier gamesRainier Beach (Seattle, Wash.)
(6-1), the No. 3 team from Washington, used a 23-8 run in the fourth quarter to finally put away Dorsey (Los Angeles)
, a 6-7 junior and the No. 10 player from the Class of 2014, had 15 points and Elijah Foster
, another 6-7 forward, added 17 for Rainer Beach, which led 47-42 entering the fourth. Laroy Alexander
, a 6-3 forward, led all scorers with 20 points for Dorsey (3-9), which is coming off a 27-9 season.
In the middle game, a tired and hungry Antelope (Calif.)
squad had just enough to knock off a scrappy and sharp-shooting Bellevue (Wash.)
team 74-71. Gabe Bealer
, a 6-5 shooting guard, improved his 16.6 season scoring age with 26 points. Bealer made 9-of-15 shots, including a 3-pointer. It helped offset superb shooting from Bellevue sophomore point guard Kyle Foreman (20 points) and 13 from Michael Carlson
. More travel woes
Everyone has a war story, especially traveling long distance the day after Christmas.
Antelope, a rising California from near Roseville, left home by bus at 7:30 a.m. "I figured seven or eight hours tops,"
Antelope coach Rob Richard said. "It turned to 10."
The Titans got dressed at the hotel, didn't have time to eat and got to the gym just 30 minutes before game time.
If the long trip and lack of food wasn't problem enough, starter Isaih Ellis had an asthma spell right before the game. And another starter, 6-8 senior Isiah Quintero came down with a migraine.
Considering all the calamaties, Richard was more than pleased with the result.
"This was an extremely sloppy but scrappy victory," Richard said. "Our first-year point guard (Tyler Winston) did another really good job and I commend all our guys for stepping it up against a very good and well-coached team."
With just its second group of seniors last year at the five-year school, Antelope won a Sac-Joaquin Division II title last season. This team might be even better.
They'll get to show just where they stand likely Thursday.
If the tournament showcase team Ford Bend Travis wins Thursday 11 a.m. against Miller, Antelope will get the Tigers and their much ballyhooed brother tandem of Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison, a pair of 6-5 power forward with guard skills.
Fort Bend Travis (11-2, No. 22 nationally) is led by identical twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison, two of the top five senior prospects in America and both headed to Kentucky. The Tigers open Thursday at 11 a.m. against Miller (Fontana, Calif.).
"It's a privilege and honor to be playing them," Richard said. "We didn't come down here to beat anyone by 35. We came here to get better and (playing Fort Bend Travis) will only help with that."
Fort Bend coach Craig Brownson and his team sat in the stands and scouted Antelope. "Very good," he said. "Very comparable to some of the teams we play."
Andrew Harrison, who has been nursing a sore hamstring, is a game-time decision this morning.
* For a look at the complete Invitational Division bracket, click here (PDF)
* For more information on the event, including teams, schedules, venues and media requests, visit MaxPrepsHolidayClassic.com
.Players to Watch
(6-5, Sr., G/F), Antelope (Calif.)Isaiah Ellis
(6-6, Sr., F), AntelopeJack Walton
(6-7, Jr., F), Bellevue (Wash.)Mustafa Jones
(6-7, Jr., F), Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.)Shavar Newkirk
(6-0, Jr., G), Cardinal HayesTyler Wilson
(6-0, Sr., G), Cardinal HayesMartez Cameron
(5-8, So., G), De La Salle (Chicago)Justin Earls
(6-8, Sr., F), De La SalleAlvin Ellis
(6-5, Sr., G/F), De La Salle – Minnesota commitment
Aaron Harrison (6-5, Sr., G), Fort Bend Travis – Kentucky commitment *
Andrew Harrison (6-5, Sr., G), Fort Bend Travis – Kentucky commitment *
Derick Newton (6-5, Sr., G/F), Harvard-WestlakeDavid Winfield
(6-9, Sr., C), Harvard-Westlake – Pennsylvania commitmentEric Childress
(6-0, Sr., G), Leuzinger (Lawndale, Calif.)
Parker Jackson-Cartwright (5-11, Jr., G), Loyola *Trey Mason
(6-2, Sr., G), LoyolaThomas Welsh
(7-0, Jr., C), LoyolaClint Moses
(6-3, Fr., G), Madison Ridgeland AcademyMarcus Anderson
(6-6, Sr., F), MillerEarl Bryant
(6-4, Sr., G/F), Miller GroveKeith Pinckney
(6-1, Jr., G), Miller GroveOmar Venable
(6-6, Jr., F), Miller GroveJacob Lampkin
(6-8, Jr., F), O'Dea (Seattle)Payton Banks
(6-6, Sr., G/F), Orange Lutheran – Penn State commitmentBrian Beard
(5-9, Jr., G), Orange LutheranRyan Heiligenthal
(6-7, So., F), Orange LutheranKendall Lauderdale
(6-7, So., F), Orange LutheranShaqquan Aaron
(6-7, Jr., G), Rainier Beach *Marquis Davis
(5-9, Sr., G), Rainier BeachWill Dorsey
(5-9, Sr., G), Rainier BeachElijah Foster
(6-7, Jr., F), Rainier BeachFuquan Niles
(6-9, Sr., C), Rainier BeachDjuan Piper
(6-6, Sr., G/F), Rainier BeachMyles Stewart
(6-4, Jr., G), WestchesterMamadou Ndiaye
(7-4, Sr., C), Brethren Christian (Huntington Beach, Calif.)
– California-Irvine commitment ** - Denotes player is on the MaxPreps Top 100 watch list for his class