BIRMINGHAM, Ala. –
After winning a state title last year, Yates (Houston, Texas) head coach Greg Wise said his team was on a mission to prove it was the best in the nation prior to this season.
Wednesday night in front of a CBS College Sports television audience and a big crowd at Samford University, the Lions looked the part, dismantling Butler (Huntsville, Ala.) 108-77 in the finals of the T-Mobile Invitational.
“This was the game where our guys knew they could show the country how good they are, with the national TV,” Wise said. “I definitely think we’re the best team in the country. And, we’re still going to get better.”
Providence-bound guard Joseph Young took over in the second quarter with the game tied at 17 after eight minutes, hitting 3-pointers, dunking and throwing up circus shots en route to 43 points – including 29 in the first half.
Young’s outburst was part of a 71-point effort in the second and third quarters for Yates. The 6-foot-2 senior hit a remarkable, desperation 3-point hook shot falling out of bounds to end the first half and finish a 41-pount explosion in the second stanza.
“In that second quarter, I had the green light and it felt like everything I threw up was going to go in,” Young said. “We’re the best team in the country – simply relentless.”
Relentless was a fitting description of Yates’ full-court attack for the second night in a row at the event as they forced 38 Butler turnovers, including 13 by star junior Trevor Lacey.
Elton Roy added 21 points for Yates while Brandon Peters posted 13. The Lions connected on 12 3-pointers and though the stat wasn't kept, likely had as many dunks.
Ryan Ervin led Butler with 21 points and six rebounds.
Yates, ranked No. 3 in this week’s Xcellent 25, improved to 12-0 and has won six games over the past two weeks outside of its home state of Texas. The Lions beat Neumann-Goretti of Philadelphia to win the Iolani Classic in Hawaii Dec. 22.
Girls Championship: St. Mary’s (Stockton, Calif.) 50, Hoover (Ala.) 44
Through most of Wednesday night’s girls championship game at the T-Mobile Invitational, it looked like a home state squad would be the winner for the second straight year.
Last December it was Washington High School of South Bend, Ind., taking the title in Indianapolis, and Hoover appeared poised to do the same in Birmingham.
That was until the St. Mary’s dynamic duo of Chelsea Gray and Afure Jemerigbe took over down the stretch and dealt the crowd favorites a heartbreaking 50-44 loss.
“I thought our experience really made a difference down the stretch,” St. Mary’s head coach Tom Gonsalves said. “We had three games just like this last week in Phoenix so there was no panic from our girls.”
Gray and Jemerigbe battled cold shooting and foul trouble most of the way, but scored eight of the Rams’ final 10 points to come through when it mattered most. Gray led all scorers with 15 points.
Auburn-bound Tyrese Tanner led Hoover with 13 points. The Bucs jumped to a 9-0 lead to start the game on a trio of 3-pointers and held an edge until the game’s final minutes.
Boys Consolation: Winter Park (Fla.) 72, Kentwood (Covington, Wash.) 52
A day after being bottled up in a loss to Butler, Winter Park star junior Austin Rivers led all scorers with 26 points as his Wildcats cruised past Kentwood, 72-52.
Rivers connected on 9 of 18 field goal attempts and also added five rebounds and five assists.
“It was great to get back on the court and compete after yesterday’s tough loss (to Butler),” Winter Park head coach David Bailey said. “We played much better defense today and rebounded the ball better, too.”
Brett Comer (12) and Isaac Turner (10) also scored in double figures for Winter Park.
The Conquerors were without 6-10 UCLA-bound senior Josh Smith for the second game in a row at the event.
Girls Consolation: Mount Lebanon (Pittsburgh, Pa.) 78, Hillsboro (Nashville, Tenn.) 39
Mount Lebanon bounced back from Tuesday’s loss to St. Mary’s in impressive fashion, forcing 43 Hillsboro turnovers en route to a 78-39 win.
“After yesterday’s loss we needed to get back on the court right away,” Mount Lebanon head coach Dori Oldaker said. “It was good to see all the girls play well and keep their composure.”
Senior guard Jess Babe led the Blue Devils – No. 8 in this week’s Xcellent 25 – with 16 points.