Day one of the UPlay Winter Showcase ended off with an entertaining and unexpected battle between American powerhouse La Lumiere and Canadian HS program Pine Ridge. We also had some strong performances, particularly coming from multple three-point specialists and a top-notch Canadian PG battle.
La Lumiere Survives Pine Ridge
The final score 77-62 in favour of La Lumiere does not tell the full story. The Lakers tried creating comfort throughout the entire game, however the gritty Pine Ridge squad continued to make runs. Momentum was in favour of PR, coming into this exhibition with nothing to lose.
On the flipside, La Lu is expected to win this game, and with only two losses on their resume all season, they are in position to potentially qualify for the Dicks Sporting Good National Invitational next month; a loss to PR would’ve shattered any hope.
Credit to Pine Ridge, who came into this game knowing they were undersized (biggest player 6’5) VS 7’0, 6’10, 6’10, but still maintained their game, getting into their opposition, mucking it up and getting out in transition. La Lu was only able to feed the post in stretches, and when they did, they were successful. Australian import 7’0 Isaac Humphries had his best game in a La Lumiere jersey that I’ve seen, scoring a game-high 22 points and dominating the glass.
The Munis Tutu-Jordan Henry point guard match up was an intriguing one; both point guards finished with 13 points apiece, however Henry balled out from start to finish getting to wherever he wanted on the floor and drawing fouls on Munis.
In the fourth quarter however, Tutu took over the game scoring 7 of his 13 points and playmaking for his teammates.
Nolan Narain had en efficient 10 points in his homecoming, displaying his inside-outside game. Fellow big man Alex Olesinski put in 16, while Brandon Cyrus added eight.
Last but not least, Devonte Nunes came out to play for Pine Ridge, had me saying “Who’s the new guy?” I was told that he is a new player for the Pumas that recently moved into the neighbourhood—he finished with a team-high 19 points and was instrumental in keeping the team in it, battling down low and making big shots.
The Snipers Were Out
- Ahmed Ismail, 25 pts (5 threes)– To open the event in game one, Ahmed Ismail of Central Toronto was instrumental in closing out this game early against St Marcellinus. CTA opened first quarter with a 28-4 lead. A.I had 16 pts in the first quarter and a game-high 25, including five threes. Ismail is a dead eye shooter in the class of 2015, abiilty to knock it down with consistency on the catch and shoot, but also has ability to create space in a variety of ways, to launch off the bounce. I saw him do the same at the Guy Vetrie tournament a few weeks back.
- Brandon Persad, 24 pts (6 threes) – Persad has been a steady producer for Thornlea all year, thanks to his shooting ability. Not very athletic, but does a solid job of picking his spots. Made big shots to help his squad get the win 69-62 over MacNab.
- Justin Andrew, 24 pts (8 threes)– Andrew is a smooth operator. A 2016 combo guard with range. Releases with little effort, high arch and loads of confidence. I have seen Andrew come up big in hostile environments, most notably last summer when UPlay Canada battled Canada Elite in an instant classic in Indiana.
Additional Top Performers
- Kenan Danso-Dapah (St Marcellinus) – 21 points
- Theo Demeke (Central Toronto) – 19 points
- Niroshan Surendran (Thornlea) – 18 points
- Maurice Calloo (Thornlea) – 14 points
- Alex Petronis (Central Toronto) – 13 points
- Spencer Thomas (Pine Ridge) – 11 points