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January 15, 2007

Monday at the Hoophall Classic

Springfield, Mass. - After a star studded Super Sunday, the Hoophall Classic followed up with three quality national games on Monday. Highlighting the triple bill was the Norcross vs. Mount Vernon match up, and Georgia Tech bound Gani Lawal led Norcross to a hard fought victory with his physical play.

Norcross (Ga.) 72, Mount Vernon (N.Y.) 63

Norcross stormed out to a 13 point halftime lead behind the ballhandling of Taariq Mohommad and Tony Neysmith, the shooting of Jordan DeMercy and the dunking of Gani Lawal. Early foul trouble for Mount Vernon's Kevin Jones didn't hurt either. But behind a second half of full court pressing, Mount Vernon cut the lead to four points with around a minute left, but a couple big shots by Norcross sealed the deal.

Gani Lawal game high 24 points on 11-18 shooting, 2-4 from the line, 8 rebounds, 1 steal, 5 blocks, 5 turnovers in 31 minutes

Lawal was the enforcer at the rim, blocking 5 shots and dunking almost all of his field goals. He does a great job of sealing his man on the block, and as long as he can turn to his left shoulder, points are almost guaranteed. Learning to turn to his right shoulder and developing poise against the double team are the next steps in his development. But the one thing you can never fault is Lawal's effort on the court.

Jordan DeMercy 17 points on 6-7 shooting, 4-4 from three, 1-2 from the line 11 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block, 4 assists, 1 turnover in 23 minutes

DeMercy was the x-factor for Norcross with his efficient shooting and physical rebounding. Florida State got a good one and he is only going to get better.

Al-Farouq Aminu 10 points on 3-8 shooting, 2-6 from threes, 2-3 from the line, 9 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 4 assists, 5 turnovers in 26 minutes

Aminu didn't have his strongest game, but he still demonstrated the skills that make him the best prospect on the court. Expect all the big boys to make a run at this promising talent.

Tony Neysmith 6 points on 3-10 shooting, 0-2 from three, 0-3 from the line, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, 9 assists, 1 turnover in 30 minutes

Neysmith had some tough misses from the field, but that didn't slowdown his contributions to the win with his ball handling. He took turns running the point with Mohammad and had a lot to do with Lawal doing chin ups on the rim.

Taariq Mohammad 8 points on 4-6 shooting, 0-2 from three, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 6 assists, 2 turnovers in 30 minutes

Mohammad impressed with the way he controlled the flow of the game and made his share of assist passes as well. He beat his man at will with his right to left crossover.

Mike Coburn 23 points on 7-25 shooting, 4-10 from three, 5-6 from the line, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 turnover in 29 minutes

Playing the shooting guard position for Mount Vernon, Coburn forced the action throughout the game with mixed results. But his aggressive competitiveness was integral to Mount Vernon's second half comeback despite the 18 misses.

Kevin Jones 11 points on 4-13 shooting, 1-6 from three, 2-2 from the line, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist, 2 turnovers in 22 minutes

It was tough to get a gauge on Jones' ability since early foul trouble sapped away a lot of his aggressiveness. Perhaps a tweener at the forward position, Jones still is a high-major prospect even if he is an undersized power forward.

Sherrod Wright 23 points on 7-12 shooting, 0-1 from three, 9-11 from the line, 11 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 turnovers in 27 minutes

Wright is a sophomore to keep an eye on. A physical small forward, he made a big mark on the game with his slashing to the basket and rebounding.

St. Patrick 63, Fairfax 60

After leading throughout the game and holding Corey Fisher in check, Fairfax had to swallow a painful loss. With Fairfax milking the clock with a one point lead, five-star sophomore Dexter Strickland stole an errant pass and was fouled with 15 seconds left in the game. He calmly knocked down both free throws. Fairfax then worked the ball to UCLA bound Chace Stanback, who was fouled on his drive to the basket with 3 seconds left in the game. Stanback failed to hit the front end of the one-and-one and then Strickland sealed the game with a couple more free throws.

Jeff Robinson game high 22 points on 9-11 shooting, 2-2 from three, 2-3 from the line, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers in 28 minutes

Robinson stuck with what he does best, which is get out on the break and run, shoot the three and pick his times to post up. The result was an efficient, team leading performance. Not a nifty ball handler and creator off the dribble, Robinson is a finisher whose athletic style is a perfect fit for Memphis.

Corey Fisher 12 points on 5-12 shooting, 2-7 from three, 4 assists, 6 turnovers in 28 minutes

Struggling with foul trouble throughout the game, Fisher went back and forth between either making ingenious plays with the ball or forcing tough shots and passes. Extremely talented, Fisher seems to have a hard time finding a more stable middle ground between brilliant and out of control.

Dexter Strickland 9 points on 2-3 shooting, 1-2 from three, 4-4 from the line, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists, 2 turnovers in 29 minutes

It's hard to get a great gauge on Strickland's game, since he plays such a secondary role for St. Patrick. But he made critical plays in that role for St. Patrick, never forced anything and looks the part of a budding elite prospect. Still developing physically, Strickland is loaded with upside.

Chace Stanback team high 21 points on 8-18 shooting, 0-1 from three, 5-8 from the line, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 assist, 4 turnovers

We have always said that Stanback's best ball is ahead of him. That is still true, but it is also in the process of happening. The thin, long small forward is beginning to fill out and the added strength is paying off. He is stronger with the ball and finishing plays that in the past he might not have been strong enough to finish. Along with Stanback's improving ability to finish, he also does a little bit of everything else on the court. Look for Stanback to be an integral part of UCLA's future success.

St. Anthony 61, Bellaire 52

Bellaire played a scrappy brand of basketball behind the leadership of Jai Lucas, but they couldn't overcome the hot three-point shooting of St. Anthony, who hit 12-22 from behind the arc.

Mike Rosario team high 22 points on 7-11 shooting, 6-8 from three, 2-2 from the line, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 4 turnovers

St. Anthony found Rosario in the corner against Bellaire's 1-3-1 zone, and Rosario made them pay.

Jiovanny Fontan 8 points on 3-8 shooting, 2-4 from three, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 assists, 1 turnover in 27 minutes

Besides playing a more than solid game offensively at the point guard position, Fontan also played tough defense on Lucas. The bulk of Lucas' points came in transition as Fontan did an outstanding job keeping Lucas in front of him for the most part in the half court set.

Jai Lucas game high 25 points on 10-22 shooting, 3-7 from three, 2-3 from the line, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 turnovers in 32 minutes

A player who adapts his playing style according to the abilities of the players around him, Lucas takes on much more of a scoring role with his high school team. His points came off threes in transition, pull up jumpers and his patented runner.

Colleges in attendance:

Villanova (Jay Wright), UMass (Travis Ford), Kentucky, Memphis, Florida, Indiana, Connecticut, Syracuse, St. John's, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest


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