FORT MYERS, Fla. – No. 13 St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.) took the opening night’s main event at the City of Palms Classic in a matchup with Sagemont (Weston, Fla.).
After building a pair of double-digit leads on commanding runs in both the opening and final quarters at Bishop Verot High School, St. Benedict’s fought off Sagemont to advance with an 80-66 victory.
“We played a faster pace than we probably normally would and gave up more points than we would have liked, but tonight we wanted a faster pace to speed them up and keep their frontcourt guys from getting established,” St. Benedict’s head coach Dan Hurley said.
Junior point guard Myck Kabongo scored 27 points, handed out four assists and added three steals for the victorious Gray Bees. Senior swingman Mike Poole scored 19 points and had three steals. Gilvydas Biruta added 12 points and five rebounds in 19 minutes while Aaron Brown had nine points and four steals.
“It was a good team effort tonight. We started off slow, but coach always fires us up and we got out to that big first-half lead after that,” Kabongo said. “We held them to 10 points in the first quarter, and that’s a goal of ours to accomplish – no double figure quarters. We could have finished quarters better ourselves, though.”
Will Sheehey, and Indiana commitment, and Vinny Delucia scored 16 points each to lead Sagemont. Sheehey also racked up 13 rebounds. Seven-footer Fab Melo finished with six points and three rebounds in just 10 minutes while battling foul trouble.
St. Benedict's used a first-quarter blitz to build a 21-4 lead. Melo picked up his second foul with four minutes to go in the opening quarter and was relegated to the bench.
It looked like the Gray Bees would pile it on as the second quarter began with Brown scoring two baskets ahead of the pack in transition. Melo picked up a third foul midway through the quarter but Sagemont recovered and forced a timeout with 4:15 remaining before halftime with the game back to a manageable 27-19.
Coming out of the half, Sagemont’s Vinny Delucia scored with contact and followed with a free throw for a three-point play opportunity that cut the lead to just two, 36-34.
St. Benedict’s turned up its motor to counter as Biruta scored on an offensive rebound, leading to Kabongo stealing the inbound pass for another quick hoop. J.P. Kambola blocked a shot on the defensive end and Kabongo would push it up the floor for a finish in transition, pushing the lead back to 43-34 in a matter of seconds.
Melo eventually fouled out, picking up numbers four and five in each of the final two quarters.
A three-pointer by Kabongo forced a timeout at 5:41 in the fourth quarter and widened the lead to 15 points, 61-46.
Sagemont again surged back behind Sheehey, cutting it to 68-62 with 2:10 left in the game.
Biruta and Kabongo continued to make plays on the defensive end to help prevent a lead change and eventually hit free throws down the stretch to close things out.
“I’ve been here three years now and have played every position from role player to bench warmer to starter, so this year I’m in a leadership role and happy to do that,” Poole said. “Just keeping everybody’s heads up and keeping each other playing hard will help us reach our goals. One of them is winning the whole thing here.”
The Gray Bees advance in the 16-team bracket of national powers and next face St. Frances (Baltimore, Md.) Monday at 5:15 p.m.
No. 19 Paterson Catholic (Paterson, N.J.) 75 – Fort Myers (Fla.) 47
A balanced and consistent attack blew the game open in the second half with Fuquan Edwin (Seton Hall signee) scoring the team-high 27 points, Derrick Randall finishing with 15 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks and Kyle Anderson going for nine points, six blocks and four steals.
Paterson Catholic put together an impressive 14 blocks and 14 steals. The lead grew quarter-by-quarter from eight, to 13, to 19 and ending in the 28-point landslide win.
Fort Myers’ Terran McClendon and Colin Henry each scored 10 points.
No. 16 Penn Wood (Lansdowne, Pa.) 65, Butler (Hunstville, Ala.) 54
The rebounding advantage went to Penn Wood – 18 to 5 on the offensive glass – and thus did the game. Aaron Brown led the Patriots with 27 points. Will Brown added 16 points and Darian Barnes dominated the glass with 12 boards. For Butler, Trevor Lacey scored 23 points and Fred Stewart had 16.
Flanagan (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) 61, Bishop Verot (Fort Myers, Fla.) 46
In non-tournament action, Flanagan received big efforts from Butler signee Khyle Marshall (26 points) and Eric Moreas (18 points, 15 rebounds). Quinten Payne (15 points) and Nathan Howard (11 points) led the way for Bishop Verot, the event's host school.
St. Frances (Baltimore, Md.) 48, De La Salle (Chicago, Ill.) 45
Wayne Sparrow scored 12 points and Dante Holmes added 10 to lead St. Frances. Mike Shaw had 13 points and nine rebounds in the loss for De La Salle.