- Christopher Lawlor, High School Basketball
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- The semifinal dance card is set for the 29th Beach Ball Classic.
Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), featuring a up-tempo offense, plays methodical Scott County (Georgetown, Ky.) at 8:45 p.m. ET and Columbia (Decatur, Ga.) tangles with Cedar Hill (Texas) at 7 in the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
Sixteen teams opened the tournament Saturday, four remain.
That suits Scott County coach Billy Hick just fine. The Cardinals advanced to their first championship semifinals here, beating national powerhouse Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.), 64-62, Tuesday in the quarterfinals.
"This is the best high school basketball tournament in the country," Hicks said. "The quality of teams is great; winning a tournament like this is a big deal."
Ge-Lawn Guyn, a 6-foot-2 guard, scored a team-high 17 points but his defensive stop of pesky Wheeler point guard Phil Taylor with five seconds remaining preserved the victory.
Chad Jackson made a pair of free throws with 13.7 seconds left, snapping a 62-all tie. Taylor, who signed with Florida International, rubbed off a screen near the elbow, drove to the baseline where he was met by Guyn.
"I watched [Taylor] in warm-ups and he was shooter these floaters; I just raised my arms to block his vision. It must have worked because he threw up an air ball," Guyn said.
Taylor netted 27 points, canning 10 of 23 shots, and Memphis-bound forward Jelan Kendrick added 16. The duo combined for all but 10 of Wheeler's field goal attempts. Tanner Shotwell had 16 points for Scott County (7-2).
Gorman broke away from an 11-11 tie early in the opening half, blitzing Nichols School (Buffalo, N.Y.), 84-44. The Gaels jumped to a 48-17 lead at the break and emptied the bench throughout the second half.
Taylor Spencer and Johnathan Loyd each had 20 points and Ryan Parks came off the bench contributing 18 points, including four 3-pointers. Connor Vandergriff, a 6-5 senior, had 15 points and Virginia-bound forward Will Regan had nine points and six rebounds.
In the third quarterfinal, Cedar Hill defeated Hamilton (Milwaukee), 64-51. The Texans jumped to a 27-24 halftime lead and were never threatened. Junior guard Billy Johnson provided an offensive spark, scoring 27 points, making 11 of 14 shots. Tanner Milson, a 6-1 shooter who signed with UNC-Wilmington, scored 11 points, dropping in a trio of 3-pointers. The Longhorns reached the quarters by edging previously-undefeated Mount St. Joseph (Baltimore), 56-53, Monday.
In the consolation bracket, Daniel (Central, S.C.) beat Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.), 77-61. Shaq Lawson, a 6-4 sophomore, led Daniel with 23 points and five rebounds. Junior Jordan Burgess scored 16 points and North Carolina-bound Kendall Marshall (No. 19 in ESPNU 100) added 11 for O'Connell.
Here's a closer look at semifinals.
Scott County vs. Bishop Gorman: The game features contrasting styles. Scott County plays each possession carefully while Gorman pushes the ball. The Cardinals play five players in motion, sans low post. Expect the Cardinals to use clock, running screens and dribble-drive penetration with Guyn feeding shooters Chad Jackson and Shotwell, a 6-4 junior. "Making the semifinals is a big deal but we're not satisfied. We want to win," Guyn said. At 6-8, Dakotah Euton (No. 57-ranked power forward) is Scott's lone inside presence. He'll play at Akron next year.
Gorman (8-1), whose only loss was to powerhouse Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), is without injured, super sophomore Shabazz Muhammad. Loyd, 6-3 guard Anson Winder, a Brigham Young recruit, and 6-2 Taylor Spencer have picked up the scoring slack in Muhammad's absence. The Gaels are averaging 81.5 points at the BBC while making 55 percent of their shots. The pressure defense has recorded 26 steals and forced 39 turnovers.
Columbia vs. Cedar Hill: Early this week, press row thought a Gorman-Hamilton final was likely. Word never reached Cedar Hill's camp. The Longhorns (14-2), a Class 4A power from the Dallas Metroplex, like the 3. Against Hamilton Milson and Johnson combined for all eight made shots from beyond the arc. Cedar Hill's long-range shooting should be challenged by Columbia, which employs a shifty 2-3 match-up zone. "We spend nearly 70 percent of each practice on defense," Columbia assistant Julian Houston said. "We play with four defenders against five. Players have to move quickly to defend and make good decisions."
Great of Scott County
After Scott County (Georgetown, Ky.) advanced to the semifinals of the Beach Ball Classic, senior Ge-Lawn Guyn, a 6-foot-2 guard told ESPN what's going on with his recruiting process.
"I have several offers but I'm still undecided," he said.
Heading into the New Year, Guyn has interest from Florida, Wisconsin, Xavier, Hawaii, Alabama and Nebraska. He has written offers from Ball State, Western Kentucky, Coastal Carolina and South Florida.
Guyn has no timetable for a decision.
The Butler did it
Trevor Lacey, No. 57 in the ESPNU Super 60, sank a layup with three second remaining lifting Butler (Huntsville, Ala.) over nationally-ranked Winter Park (Fla.), 60-58, Tuesday in the fourth annual T-Mobile Invitational semifinals in Birmingham, Ala.
Lacey topped all scorers with 19 points and now face Yates (Houston), which won the Iolani Classic last week, in the championship on Wednesday.
"We had great execution on that final play," Butler coach Jack Doss said. "Pressure makes or breaks you and he made the pressure shot."
Coincidentally Butler (10-4) and Winter Park both competed at the City of Palms Classic. Winter Park placed second at the event, falling to Paterson Catholic in the final.
Said Lacey: "Coach put that play in last week; we had never run it before. It wasn't a state championship, but this was definitely one of the biggest wins I've ever had."
Florida-bound Austin Rivers, the nation's No. 2-rated junior, managed only nine points in the loss. Last week Rivers was named the Most Valuable Player at City of Palms in Fort Myers, Fla. for the second straight year. Butler used a box-and-one defense, limiting the high-scoring Rivers to only seven shots.
Winter Park (9-4) meets Kentwood (Covington, Wash.) in the consolation.
The New Year will be less than a day old when big-time basketball visits Wheeling, W.Va., on Friday and Saturday at the Cancer Research Classic.
The two-day event features several ranked players and teams. There's a doubleheader on Friday and five games on Saturday at Wheeling Jesuit University's Alma Grace McDonough Center.
Friday's lineup is Paterson (N.J.) Catholic-Huntington (W.Va.) Prep at 7 p.m. ET, followed by Wheeling Park-Wheeling Central Catholic at 8:15 in the George Kellas City Championship.
The CRC marks the first action for Paterson Catholic (4-0) which won the prestigious City of Palms Classic before Christmas in Fort Myers, Fla. The game also is the season debut for T.J. Clemmings, a 6-foot-6, 255-pound power forward, who will sign with Pittsburgh to play football.
"He's a monster on the boards and in the middle," said Paterson Catholic coach Damon Wright of Clemmings, ESPN.com's No. 55-rated defensive end prospect. "We gave him some time off after football; he'll ready (for Friday)."
Clemmings return adds more depth to a rotation that features 6-6 Fuquan Edwin (a Seton Hall signee); 6-7 sophomore Kyle Anderson (No. 23 in the ESPNU Terrific 25); 5-10 junior Myles Mack; 6-6 Jermaine Peart; 6-8 promising freshman Derrick Randall; and 6-6 Jayon James, who has several offers from Ivy and Patriot league schools but may opt for prep school next year to improve his stock.
Paterson Catholic, which made a commitment this year to lockdown defense, will need it to stop 6-5 Justin Coleman (No. 32 in ESPNU 100). Coleman is considering Xavier, Marquette, Indiana, Arkansas and Louisville.
Saturday's schedule includes: Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia)-Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.), 12:30 p.m.; St. Joseph's Prep (Philadelphia)-St. Ignatius (Cleveland), 2:05; Sewickley (Pa.) Academy-Wheeling Central Catholic 3:40; Rice (Manhattan, N.Y.)- Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.), 5:15; and St. Frances Academy (Baltimore)-St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.), 6:50.
The opener is guard oriented. Neumann-Goretti, which placed second at the Iolani Classic in Honolulu, relies on Wake Forest-bound Tony Chennault (No. 26 point guard in ESPNU 100) while Christ the King has 6-1 Corey Edwards (No. 40 point guard in ESPNU Super 60) and 6-4 Maurice Barrow (No. 90 small forward).
Other star players at the event are: 6-4 Tyler Thornton (No. 20 point guard), 6-4 Malcolm Lemmings (Robert Morris signee) and 6-1 Cedrick Lindsay (Richmond) all of Gonzaga; 6-6 Mike Poole (No. 44 small forward), 6-7 Gil Biruta (Rutgers), 6-5 Aaron Brown (Temple); and 6-8 junior Sidiki Johnson all of St. Benedict's; 6-6 Shane Southwell (Kansas State) and 6-7 Kadeem Jack (No. 53 power forward) of Rice. Jack is considering Siena, Saint John's, Seton Hall and George Mason.
The event promotes men's health issues including prostate cancer, obesity, wellness, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. Event officials say heath care screenings will also be available and administered by physician residents. Proceeds of the CRC support undergraduate cancer research scholarships and medical physics programs.
Christopher Lawlor has covered high school sports for more than 20 years, most recently with USA TODAY.