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December 22, 2013
Johnson finishes strong at Tarkanian
LAS VEGAS -- The final day of the 2013 Tarkanian Classic turned out to be the most exciting. The championship game featured the No. 3 players in each of the 2014 and 2015 class hitting the floor as senior Stanley Johnson led Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei to a thrilling overtime victory over junior Ivan Rabb and Oakland Bishop O'Dowd. Immediately before that, junior four-star guard Allonzo Trier had a huge part in leading Rockville (Md.) Montrose Christian to a comeback win over Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep.
There have now been two Tarkanian Classics, but there has only been one champion. Johnson and Mater Dei escaped an overtime thriller with a 63-59 decision over Rabb and Bishop O'Dowd in the final to repeat as champions on Saturday night.
For the first 24 minutes, Mater Dei seemed to be in control. Four-star junior shooting guard Rex Pflueger was making jumpers and Johnson was in total beast mode. The 6-foot-7 senior was driving to the rim and finishing through contact, hitting deep threes and bullying opponents on both ends of the floor. But with 8:12 remaining in the second half, Johnson picked up his fourth foul.
Normally, a player is going to sit for at least a few minutes after picking up a fourth foul with that much time remaining. Not Johnson. He didn't so much as look at the bench to see if he was coming out and Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight never made the slightest move to suggest he even considered taking the Arizona-bound star out of the game.
However, the fourth foul did force Johnson to dial down the aggression and it also meant that he had to switch off of 2015's No. 3 player Rabb. Down double digits at the time, Rabb immediately took things over. He elevated for finishes at the rim, used both hands to finish in traffic and unleashed a frighteningly good fadeaway 15-footer off of his back foot along the baseline like Dirk Nowitzki loves to use. For good measure, the 6-foot-9 five-star power forward even ran the point for a stretch of about two and a half minutes.
O'Dowd actually had the last chance in regulation and junior three-star point guard Paris Austin looked to be the recipient of a pretty hard foul from Johnson on a drive, but no call was made and the game went to overtime. During the extra session, Rabb never touched the ball and Johnson made enough free-throws to end things.
Johnson was named the MVP of the event and was pleased with his teammates.
"It was really important for us as a team to get this win," Johnson told Rivals.com. "We want to make an impact on the national level and to do that we had to be sure we won this game. So this win was real huge for us. We played real tough on both ends tonight."
Trier catches fire
Up until about 10 minutes to go in its game with Findlay Prep, Montrose Christian looked to be in huge trouble. Down 15 points to a Findlay team that was running, gunning and playing above the rim, 2015's No. 46 player Allonzo Trier took over.
Actually, taking over isn't strong enough to explain what the 6-foot-3 four-star shooting guard did. The Oklahoma native went into Playstation mode as he unleashed a ridiculous barrage of deep three-pointers, athletic dunks in traffic and big-time shots when his team had to have a shot made.
These weren't easy shots either. Trier was defended very well. He simply reached deep inside and found a way to make one play after another while scoring 27 of his game-high 34 points during the second half. Thanks in large part to his scoring heroics, Montrose was in position to win late and they did so in spectacular fashion as senior combo guard Patrick McCaw found recent DePaul commitment Raymond Doby for an alley-oop slam in a scramble transition situation as time expired to give Montrose a 63-61 win.
Afterward, Trier said that he is wide open in his recruitment and listed Georgetown, Indiana, Kentucky, Washington, SMU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. He was also justifiably excited about the performance of he and his team.
"It was a really big game for us," said Trier. "We wanted to come out and make a big statement and we did. I thought I played well. I took a couple of tough shots and I made a couple of tough shots as well."
Auburn has got themselves a good one in 6-foot-6 small forward Sam Logwood. A former member of the Rivals150, Logwood needs serious consideration to be put back into the rankings if he continues to play his senior year like he played Saturday. Playing against Dallas Prime Prep, the Auburn signee set the tone for La Porte (Ind.) La Lumiere with his physical play and skywalking around the rim. He got important rebounds, threw down ferocious dunks on the break and played some tough defense on the interior during a very physical and tough game.
About a month ago, Patrick McCaw left his native St. Louis to spend the rest of his senior season at Montrose Christian. The early returns look to be pretty good. A 6-foot-5 combo guard and three-star prospect, McCaw is a good ball-handler, good passer and a capable shot-maker. He still needs to get a little stronger and needs to be a bit more consistent, but the talent is evident and his stock is on fire as an available senior. McCaw said that he now has offers from Missouri, SMU, Saint Louis, Missouri State, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Virginia Tech and Florida State to go along with attention from Maryland, George Mason, Illinois and DePaul.
Four-star junior Joseph Toye is adjusting to La Lumiere and looks to be pretty comfortable. The 6-foot-6 wing didn't have a huge day Saturday but it is clear that he has above average physical tools, can shoot the ball a bit from deep and finish in transition. Toye listed offers from Memphis, Iowa, Missouri, Auburn, Bradley, UIC and Providence. Toye also mentioned interest from Illinois and Vanderbilt.
Four-star junior Jalen Coleman also had some nice moments for La Lumiere. His shot wasn't quite on target, but he is getting stronger, understands movement and decision-making on the offensive end and is a natural scorer who plays the game with some swagger.
Before they fell apart late, Findlay Prep was putting on a bit of a show. Sophomore point guard Derryck Thornton was hitting pull-up jumpers and finding teammates for finishes. Junior four-star power forward Horace Spencer was playing way over the rim with some impressive tip slams, Arizona signee Craig Victor was playing with energy in the lane and Kansas-bound Kelly Oubre was showing his considerable scoring ability. Speaking of Oubre, the 6-foot-7 shooting guard had been putting up huge numbers to start the season after his dominant performance at USA Basketball. He certainly showed flashes during the weekend, but it wasn't a huge weekend for him. The southpaw can shoot with range and finish with authority at the rim. On Saturday, he spent more time attacking the rim and the more he attacks the tougher he is to defend.