- Mindi Rice
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Now that January has rolled in and the student athletes are back in school, it's time to reflect on holiday tournaments. Girls' basketball coaches will use what they learned about their teams in an effort to win out their leagues, conferences, districts and, for many, states.
Kelsey Harris earned tournament MVP honors as Brea Olinda (Brea, Calif.) continued its success with a 78-64 victory Thursday against Potter's House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) in the championship of the West Coast Jamboree. Harris scored 15 points in the championship game while sophomore Keitra Wallace led the team with 19 points, 18 rebounds and seven assists.
In the Sandra Meadows Classic, SMU-bound senior Akil Simpson was named tournament MVP after scoring a team-high 10 points in Duncanville's 38-35 win against Trinity (Euless, Texas) in the championship.
Leaving the state worked well for one Texas team as Skyline (Dallas) won the top bracket in the second session of the Nike Tournament of Champions. The Raiders beat American Fork (Utah), Hamblen West (Morristown, Tenn.) and, in the title game, St. Mary's (Phoenix, Ariz.) 66-54 en route to the Green championship.
St. Joseph's (St. Louis, Mo.) headed to Naples, Fla., and claimed the Naples Daily News Shootout title with a 61-55 victory against Trinity Christian (Lake Worth, Fla.), becoming the first Missouri team to win the 11-year-old shootout. Trinity knocked out Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.), the tournament's defending champions, with a 50-48 win in the first round. Sophomore Morgan Stock led the Angels with 17 points in the championship victory.
At the Diamond State Classic in Delaware, St. Frances (Baltimore, Md.) edged Central Dauphin (Harrisburg, Pa.) 61-57 behind 24 points from Shatyra Hawkes.
In the Upward Classic in South Carolina, Parkview (Lilburn, Ga.) took the championship with a 65-62 win against North Carolina power East Mecklenburg (Charlotte, N.C.). Maggie Smith, with 16 points, and Lauren Coleman, 15 points, led the Panthers to the tournament win.
Two New Jersey tournaments saw in-state battles against high-ranked teams in the championship games. In the Newark Public Schools tournament championship Wednesday, Shabazz (Newark) stayed undefeated at 5-0 with a 51-47 win against University (Newark). Senior Desiree Simmons led Shabazz with 16 points, while sophomore Aliyyah Handford added 15. In the Eastern States Classic Invitational Tournament, Trenton Catholic (Trenton, N.J.) edged Colts Neck (N.J.) 61-54 behind 29 points from sophomore Briyona Canty. Trenton Catholic moved to 4-0 with the win, while Colts Neck dropped to 4-1.
Even though Texas hosted tournaments with some top in-state competition during the holidays, fans of girls basketball in the state had Saturday circled on their calendars as Texas' top two 5A teams -- Irving MacArthur (Irving, Texas) and Duncanville (Texas) -- faced off in a possible preview of a game much later in the season. Duncanville (23-1) couldn't overcome MacArthur's much-heralded duo of Odyssey Sims and Alexis Jones, who combined for 59 points in a 69-56 MacArthur (25-0) victory. Jones, the sophomore, finished with 32 points after scoring 21 in the first half, while Sims, who has signed with Baylor, had 25 of her 27 points in the second half.
The place to be
With most teams home and many kicking off league or conference play, Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.) kicks off a tough week of in-state play with Friday's battle against also undefeated Renaissance (Detroit). Three days later, the Yellowjackets (7-0), one of Michigan's top small-school teams, battles a top large-school team, East Lansing (Mich.). These games will help give Michigan fans an idea of which team really is tops.
Oregon City (Ore.) won the Gilette Energy Classic in Wyoming with a 75-59 championship victory against Lynwood (Calif.). … Webb City (Mo.) defeated Midwest City (Okla.) 65-62 in overtime Dec. 18 in the first round of the KTXR Classic in Springfield, Mo. Kyndal Clark led Webb City with 20 points. Wheeling (Ill.) won the tournament. … In Oregon, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) beat a handful of Oregon teams to win the 2009 Nike Interstate Shootout, defeating Franklin (Portland) 107-51 in the championship. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis led the Monarchs with 30 points, while Shoni Schimmel led Franklin with 24. … In the consolation final for the Naples Daily News Shootout, Germantown and Cardinal O'Hara (Springfield, Pa.) found themselves in a preview of a scheduled Jan. 16 game. Behind 15 points from Maggie Lucas and a defense that allowed just five O'Hara field goals in the second half, Germantown won 46-35. … Hoover (Ala.), which suffered its first loss of the season against St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.) in the T-Mobile Invitational championship, looks to bounce back this week against conference opponents as well as rival Ramsay (Birmingham, Ala.). Future Southeastern Conference foes Tyrese Tanner (Hoover, signed with Auburn) and Kaneisha Horn (Ramsay, signed with Alabama) are the key players for each team. … South Eugene (Eugene, Ore.) passed one big Portland-area test Wednesday with a 56-43 victory against Southridge (Beaverton, Ore.).
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A scouts' look at the top high school holiday tournaments.