Eastside tops Jones at Dante Anderson Invitational
Published: Saturday, January 2, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 3, 2010 at 12:33 a.m.
Just as it was intended, the third annual Dante Anderson Memorial Invitational Tournament at Eastside Saturday served its two-fold purpose of providing some top-quality basketball as well as a chance to remember one of the top young local stars to ever grace the hardwood.
The event, hosted by Eastside and sponsored by floridaprospects.com, annually showcases some of the top basketball talent from the Gainesville and surrounding areas competing against some of the top teams throughout the state of Florida. It also serves as a solemn tribute to Anderson, a rising star at Eastside who led the Rams to the their only state championship (2006) but was tragically killed in a single-car accident in May 2007.
This year’s event featured defending 5A state champion Gainesville High, 3A state runner-up Orlando Jones and perennial state powers Eastside, Jacksonville Raines and Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson among the eight-team field, providing for a full afternoon and evening of roundball action.
The tournament finale pitted Jones against the host Rams and was a tight battle, with the Rams (8-2) finally pulling away in the fourth quarter for a 68-59 win.
Eastside came out strong, racing to an 18-8 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Tigers (8-5) roared back, outscoring the Rams 13-0 over the first four minutes of the second quarter to take a 21-18 lead. The Rams were able to cut the lead to one, 32-31, at the half, but the third quarter was back-and-forth, ending with the score tied at 49-all.
The Rams, however, took control in the final stanza behind the stellar play of sophomore guard Benji Bell and senior post Harold Hoskins, building a 10-point lead with three minutes remaining and holding off the Tigers for the victory.
“It was an emotional game for us, but especially for Benji Bell because he is Dante’s little brother,” said Eastside head coach Herman "Pop" Williams. “I think we just relaxed a little too much, but Jones did make some adjustments to what we were trying to do. The kids picked it back up, though, and started to lock down on defense, and we were able to pull out the win.”
Bell led the Rams with 21 points while Hoskins added 18. Junior guard Angelo Warner of Jones led all scorers with 22 points.
Prior to the finale, tournament director Robert Sumpter, also the Director of Florida Prospects, introduced Anderson’s mother, Sheila Baker, who briefly addressed the crowd.
Before the Rams and Tigers closed out the tournament, Gainesville and class 6A Boyd Anderson went toe-to-toe in the tightest game of the event. It took all 32 minutes of regulation and two four-minute overtime periods to determine a winner, with the Hurricanes (10-3) outlasting the Cobras (8-3) 64-61.
GHS took a 24-19 lead into the locker room at the break and led 40-37 lead going into the fourth quarter, but the Cobras fought back and tied it at 51-all on a 3-pointer by Shaquelle Alexander that just beat the buzzer at the end of regulation.
The two teams were still tied at 56 at the end of the first OT, but Matt Jackson put the ‘Canes ahead to stay by knocking down both ends of a 1-and-1 to open the second overtime, then clinched it with two more clutch free throws for the final margin of victory with 8.9 seconds left.
Senior forward T.J. Hall, an Ohio University signee, had 27 points to lead the ‘Canes, while Jackson added 21. Senior Marvens Metellus of Boyd Anderson matched Hall for game-high scoring honors with 27 points.
“That was one of the most exciting high school basketball games I’ve ever been associated with,” said GHS head coach Kelly Beckham. “You have to give Boyd Anderson a lot of credit. They are a very well-coached team, and it’s a shame either team had to lose to be honest with you.”
In earlier afternoon action, Santa Fe (7-3) posted a 60-56 victory over Woods Haven Prep of Hollywood (4-5) in the tournament opener behind 22 points from junior point guard C.J. Wakeley and 16 points from Cory Key.
The lone local team to taste defeat was Hawthorne, which fell to Raines, 74-37, in the only lopsided game of the tournament. Senior Ed Ray led the Hornets (8-5) with 17 points, while senior Daqwan Knight had 15 points to lead the Vikings (7-3).
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