Inaugural BlueCross BlueShield Classic
Whitney Young gets hyped for St. Mel
"The first game jitters are out of the way now," said Whitney Young's 6'7" junior stud, Najeeb Echols. The Whitney Young Dolphins were not only the opening act in the BlueCross BlueShield Classic on Sunday afternoon at the UIC Pavilion, but this was also their first game of the season. However, it didn't take long for the juices to start flowing as the Dolphins jumped on the St. Mel Knights early and went into halftime with an 8 point lead, 43-35. The Knights of Providence St. Mel, who are regularly recognized as one of the best Class A teams, continued to fight Chicago Young as the game was always within a 10 point margin. In the end, the Knights just couldn't contain the Dolphin's superior size. While St. Mel is not a small team by high school standards, having 6'8" 215 lb. Stan Gaines and 6'7" Darron Evans. They were, however, dwarfed by the towering Whitney Young team, who has 6 players standing 6'5" or taller. Lamont Bryant summed up the game best simply saying, "It was a great game."
'The House' takes the floor against Peoria Richwoods
They are the team to beat this year in Illinois. They return 4 starters from a team last year that was undefeated in the regular season (with a very strong schedule). Over the summer they won the prestigious AAU National Tournament. And they are USA Today's preseason pick as the #4 team in the nation, proclaiming that they are the nation's quickest and strongest defense. With all that said you would think that Peoria Richwoods would be nervous to even board their charter bus taking them to the UIC Pavilion. That however was not the case for Bob Darling's Peoria Richwoods team.
Westinghouse jumped on Richwoods early, outscoring them 15-12 and 10-4 in the first two periods. Richwoods didn't give up though. Instead of backing down and playing tentatively they took charge in the third period, outscoring Westinghouse 17-12. The efforts, however, of Richwoods' Tony Gulley and Ben Silver, 12 points apiece, weren't enough to keep powerful Westinghouse down. "Peoria Richwoods surprised us. We thought we could come in and blow them out. But they gave us a good run," said 5'10" Westinghouse guard and MVP of the game, Martell Bailey.
Julian's dynamic scorer -
Tradition. That is what Peoria Manual is all about. They have 4 state championships in the 90's alone. Coach Wayne McClain is responsible for molding some of the state's best teams. Julian coach Loren Jackson, usually caught up with his own team's achievements, even went as far as to say, "I have much respect for Mr. McClain, he's like a mentor to me."
Compared to the success that Peoria Manual has had in the past, this will not be one of the more memorable seasons for the Rams. Nevertheless, Manual should still be very solid and competitive this year. That was certainly the case on Sunday against one of the Public League's finest, Chicago Julian. Despite being undersized (Manual's tallest starter-6'4" Julian started 3 players 6'6" or bigger) and an inexperienced team, Manual still nearly pulled off the upset. The game continually went back and forth throughout the game until the fourth quarter.In the end, the Julian Jaguars had to much fire power for the Rams. 6'3" sophomore, Sean Dockery finished with 17 points and the often times overshadowed 6'6" junior, Martese Williams captured the games Most Valuable Player award while finishing with 15 points and doing Julian's 'dirty work.' Loren Jackson finished by saying, "We won and that's the bottom line."
Players who impressed
Manual's super sophomore - O'Bryan
Providence St. Mel:
LeVar Seals 6'4" Jr- LeVar showed his superior athletic ability while driving, creating and penetrating. Finished with 21 points.
Stan Gaines 6'8" So- Whether he's was bringing the ball up the court or pounding it into the ground for a sweet post move he did it all. Finished with 17 points.
Darron Evans 6'7" Jr- Both he and Gaines are listed as guard-forward-center. That is basically what makes this young man so special, his versatility. He also played very solid defense blocking several shots.
Chicago Whitney Young:
Najeeb Echols 6'7" Jr- The games MVP did it all, ran the floor on the break, pounded the offensive glass for easy put backs and played above average defense on Stan Gaines. Finished with 22 points.
Marcus White 6'8" So- Lived up to the hype about him being one of the best sophomores in the state. Excellent feel for the ball around the glass.
Top 50 national talent - Ced
Tony Gulley 6'0" Jr- Handled the full court press from Westinghouse very successfully despite the loss. Filled 4 year starter, Geoff Richard's shoes (Geoff is out with a broken foot) real nicely. Finished with 12 points.
Ben Silver 6'5" SR- After getting a few shots blocked early, regrouped real nicely and used the head and body fake real nicely. Finished with 12 points.
Martell Bailey 5'10" Sr- The games MVP hit an array of fancy circus shots that looked wild but that is Martell's style. Finished with 16 points.
Cedrick Banks 6'3" Sr- Applied his tight defense and caused havoc on the Richwoods team. Also, supplied his usual team leadership and scoring punch. Finished with 15 points.
Craig Franklin 6'2" Sr- Franklin has not received the attention that he deserves being overshadowed by Banks, Bailey and Tremmel. Franklin can jump out of the gym and has nice moves going to the hoop with his quick first step. Finished with 10 points.
Jerron Hobson 5'11" Sr- Showed some nice range on his jumper some solid defense. Finished with 17 points.
O'Bryan 'Obbe' Wallace 6'0" So- Was the igniting force for his team in the second quarter. Continued to show up where the ball was. Potential is there. Finished with 11 points.
Martese Williams 6'6" Jr- The games MVP did all of the little things that help a team win. Finished with 11 points.
Demario Eddins 6'7" Sr- Has a scorer's mentality, knows how to get to the basket. Finished with 15 points.
Sean Dockery 6'3" So- Lived up to his reputation as the best sophomore in the state. Has great point guard abilities ex. speed, good penetration, nice passer, smart decisions. Solid scorer as well. Finished with 17 points.
Anton Palmer 6'7" Jr- Did a good job of replacing James Peters (waiting for eligibility ruling). Scores and rebounds well. Finished with 11 points.