The Rock Fights Off Gutsy Tyner, 71-66, In Scenic City Showcase Headliner

Hamilton Heights, Lone Local Winner, Breezes Past New Hope, 72-46

Thursday, January 16, 2014 - by Larry Fleming
Tyner's Kevin Cameron goes up for a lay-up Thursday night. Cameron's 19 points weren't enough to hold of The Rock in the Scenic City Showcase.
Tyner's Kevin Cameron goes up for a lay-up Thursday night. Cameron's 19 points weren't enough to hold of The Rock in the Scenic City Showcase.
- photo by Jimmy Burgess

In a crowd-pleasing, rough-and-tumble nightcap to the second Scenic City Showcase at East Hamilton School, The Rock out-fought a gutsy Tyner, 71-66, Thursday night behind the game-high 27 points by senior point guard Mitchell Wilbekin.

With elbows flying, bodies falling hard to the court, neither team willing to give an inch, The Rock built a 20-point lead early in the third quarter, but had to withstand the Rams’ furious comeback, fueled by sophomore Davonte Jones’ clutch 3-point shooting to post the win and advance to the tournament semifinal on Friday against New Hope (A) at 8 p.m.

New Hope routed host East Hamilton, 92-62.

In the other two boys' games, Central Park knocked off Prominence, 62-58, and Hamilton Heights whipped New Hope (B), 72-46.

Central Park will play Hamilton Heights (24-1) in the other semifinal at 6:30 p.m.

In girls' action, nationally ranked New Hope trounced Hamilton Heights, 69-48 and The Rock knocked off East Hamilton, 76-39.

With the preliminaries out of the way, the Lions and Rams took center stage.

The Lions have a regional reputation as a top-notch program – they produced University of Kansas 7-foot freshman sensation Joel Embiid, who stole everyone’s thunder in this tournament last year.

The Rams had won 11 of 12 games and were determined to play tenaciously on both ends of the court.

None of the fans left the gymnasium disappointed.

“We played maybe one team before this year that played as tough as (Tyner) does,” said Wilbekin, a University of Tulsa signee. “But this was definitely our roughest game. I love games like this.”

Wilbekin’s first four baskets were 3-pointers and he had 16 points through three quarters. He scored 11 points in the final period.

And when the Lions needed him to sink game-clinching free throws late, Wilbekin went 9 for 9 from the line in the final eight minutes and 6 of 6 in the final 45.7 seconds. The smooth-operating Wilbekin was 13 of 13 from the stripe.

“He’s been our rock,” Rock coach Justin Harden said. “He’s been solid all season and I was glad to see him get 27. That was great. Hey, he’s a 90 percent free-throw shooter and I think he’s missed 10 all season. You love to see that from your point guard.”

Two Wilbekin free throws after a technical on Tyner’s Alex Watkins gave The Rock a 41-21 lead with 5:15 left in the third quarter. The Rams trailed 49-34 heading into the fourth period.

“We’re down 20, but it’s not a blowout 20,” Rams coach Gerald Harris said. “My kids did a good job coming back.”

The comeback didn’t really gain traction until the clock went under four minutes.

The Lions led 60-44 after Pape Diatta’s layup and sophomore Troy Baxter, a 6-foot-7-inch forward, slammed his second Michael Jordan-like dunk with 4:42 left. Baxter’s first monster jam brought the house down for a 43-24 lead with 3:08 remaining in the third period.

Tyner’s Sadik Spence hit a 3, DeQuan Hardwick drove the baseline for a layup and sophomore DeVante Jones lit a roman candle with a 3-pointer and subsequent free throw after being fouled by Frederik Benzon at the 3:23 mark.

After Wilbekin made two free throws, Jones got another open look and ripped another 3, this one from the right wing, slicing The Rock’s lead to 62-56 with 2:43 on the clock.

“Coach (Harris) told me to get open and shoot the ball,” said Jones, who finished with 15 points. “That’s what I did. They underestimated me, didn’t get a hand in my face and I just started shooting.”

Harden tipped his hat to Jones, who made three of his four 3-pointers in the final 3:23.

“That number 11 (Jones) knocked down some 3s and gave them life,” he said. “It’s not a very fast shot, but we didn’t realize where he was and gave him way too much space to get them off. Credit to his teammates for finding him, and to him for knocking them down.”

The Lions (13-7), who won went 3-0 in last year’s Showcase, pushed 65-56 on DeVaughn Jenkins’ dunk, but Watkins, who paced the Rams with 19 points, hit a layup and Kevin Cameron putback a miss by Jones and Tyner was within 65-60 with 58.2 seconds left.

Six Wilbekin free throws offset a Cameron 3 and Jones popped another 3 from the left wing before time ran out.

“I’m not sure we’ll play a team like this (The Rock) from here on out,” Harris said. “We laid down a bit and let the game get past us. We got down like this in Memphis (against Whitehaven) and didn’t come back too well. We showed more composure tonight.”

Hardwick finished with 14 points for the Rams.

Harrell scored 13 points for the Rams.

Hamilton Heights 72, New Hope B 46: The Hawks had a shaky 32-31 lead, but went on a 17-5 run – Aleksa Jugovic had six of his 14 points in the spree – to grab control of the game at 49-36.

Vilius Nauseda’s two free throws gave Hamilton Heights, which has the best record of any team in the tournament, a 58-38 advantage, and the Hawks cruised home for the win.

“In the second half we were able to get some defensive stops and easy (transition) baskets and that helped us open things up,” Hawks coach Zach Ferrell said. “We got off to a slow start and needed a lot more energy. That was our point of emphasis in the second half.

The Hawks led 28-25 at halftime, but turned up the heat and outscored New Hope, 44-21, in the second half.

Joan Duan led the Hawks with 20 points. Nauseda added 12 points.

Ben Maslauskais paced New Hope with 14 points and Johnathan Warren had 10.

New Hope A 92, East Hamilton 62: The host Hurricanes (5-12) had a 20-19 lead after one quarter, but New Hope put up 73 points over the next three periods to overwhelm East Hamilton.

New Hope had a 47-35 lead in the third quarter and JaQwan McCauley scored nine points in his team’s 13-4 run that stretched the advantage to 60-39. From 73-53, New Hope ran off 10 straight points to push the lead to 30 points.

Ryan Johnson and Deividas Poguzinskas each scored 22 points to lead New Hope and Kai Shaw added 16.

East Hamilton’s Kenny Bunton scored a game-high 24 points.

“We kept playing hard,” said Bunton, a sophomore. “I think that’s the best we’ve played as a team, but that’s the second-best team we’ve played in my two years here. The Rock last year was the best.”

Central Park 62, Prominence 58: The Eagles, who like The Rock went 3-0 in last year’s round-robin event, enjoyed a 42-30 lead late in the third quarter after an 11-2 run. They still had a double-digit lead at 53-43 with 6:18 left in the game.

But when sophomore Charles Norman dropped in a shot high off the glass and 6-8 senior Stavian Allen, who is committed to Liberty University, drove for a dunk Prominence (10-5) was within 59-56 with 1:58 remaining.

Despite hitting only 3 of 6 free throws in the final 1:33 Central Park held on for the win.

“We played much better than we have been and competed well against an excellent team,” Central Park coach Randy Pulley said. “We did well with our pressure that allowed us to speed up the game. We were on a two-game losing streak and I told the guys, ‘Doesn’t this feel a lot better.’ "

Central Park (6-9) was led in scoring by sophomore C.J. Jones with 17 points. Jinan Nance added 11 points and Abduleye Gueye finished with 10.

Gueye, a 6-10 senior, has offers from Mississippi State, Alabama-Birmingham, Memphis, Auburn and Tennessee.

Prominence’s Markell Lodge, a St. Joseph’s University signee, had a team-high 13 points, including four backboard rattling dunks. Isaiah Dickens had 12 points and Norman and Allen each scored 10.

New Hope girls 69, Hamilton Heights 48: Undefeated New Hope, ranked No. 8 nationally by, easily won its 20th straight game.  

The Lady Hawks trailed 36-20 at halftime.

New Hope got 16 points from K. King, including 10 in the third quarter.

Victoria Monyei led the Lady Hawks with 12 points.

The Rock girls 76, East Hamilton 39: The Lady Lions placed four players in double figures, with Sarah Sageler leading the way with 19 points and Evalina Auleeva close behind with 18, 10 coming in the first quarter when The Rock built a 27-11 lead.

Sageler scored 11 of her points in the third quarter. Alek Trisic added 13 points and Katie Polinsky finished with 11.

Eighth-grader Rhyne Howard scored a team-high 18 points for the Lady Hurricanes. She made half of East Hamilton’s six 3-pointers.

“She’s the real deal,” Lady Hurricanes coach Derek Morris said.



Prominence                 15 13 10 20 – 58

Central Park               23 8 16 15 – 62

Prominence (58) – Charles Norman 10, Isaiah Dickens 12, Rawley 5, Markell Lodge 13, Stavian Allen 10, Gaddy 8, Ogide, Ndiaye, Lewis.

Central Park (62) – Jinan Nance 11, Chairs 3, Grooms 9, Davis, C.J. Jones 17, Dickey 7, Abduleye Gueye 10, Dordevic 5.

3-Point Goals: Prominence 4 (Gaddy 2, Dickens, Rawley); Central Park 5 (Chairs, Grooms, Jones, Dickey, Gueye).

New Hope (B)                         17 8 11 10 – 46

Hamilton Heights                   14 14 21 23 – 72

New Hope (B) (46) – Luthrell 3, Thompson, Smith 4, Morgan 2, Edwards 7, Ben Maslauskais 14, Sow 2, Burdzaig, Semenovas 4, Johnathan Warren 10.

Hamilton Heights (72) – Roknic 5, Joan Duran 20, Vilius Nauseda 12, Huyler, Viatkus 8, Aleksa Jugovic 14, Balogun 7, Adheke, Olanrewaju, Ado 4.

3-Point Goals: New Hope (B) 2 (Luthrell, Edwards); Hamilton Heights 4 (Roknic, Viatkus, Jugovic, Balogun).

New Hope (A)                      19 20 26 27 – 92

East Hamilton                       20 7 18 17 – 62

New Hope (A) (92) – Kai Shaw 16, Gathrings 4, Zibertas 2, Muhammad 4, Ryan Johnson 22, JaQwan McCauley 15, Gredratis 7, Deividas Poguzinskas 22.

East Hamilton (62) – Thompson 7, Jackson 8, Lowery 2, Sparks, Kenny Bunton 24, Chacko 3, Wright 4, Wingard, Griffith, Mac Brower 12, Beach, Durah 2.

3-Point Goals: New Hope (A) 3 (Shaw, Gathrings, Johnson); East Hamilton 1 (Thompson).

The Rock                               14 17 18 22 – 71

Tyner                                      7 10 17 32 – 66

The Rock (71) – Mitchell Wilbekin 27, Baxter 7, Benzon 2, Akimov, Diatta 7, Janjetovic, Hansen, A.Wilbekin, Austin Harrell 13, Kelly 5, Jenkins 9, Mading 1.

Tyner (66) – Spence 8, Watson 2, Mastin 6, Kevin Cameron 19, Watkins 2, DeVante Jones 15, DeQuan Hardwick 14, Strickland.

3-Point Goals: The Rock 6 (M. Wilbekin 4, Diatta, Harrell); Tyner 9 (Jones 5, Spence 2, Mastin, Cameron).


The Rock                                 27 8 26 15 – 76

East Hamilton                       11 10 9 9 – 39

The Rock (76) – Ivandua 4, Makorevigivte 2, Alek Trisic 13, Sirputyte 2, Sarah Sageler 19, Pejcic 7, Katie Polinsky 11, Evalina Auleeva 18.

East Hamilton (39)—Pettit 5, Woods 5, Caudle, Rhyne Howard 18, Denton 2, Wood 3, Black 1, Giles 3, Zeh, Maston.

3-Point Goals: The Rock 6 (Sageler 3, Trisic, Pejcic, Auleeva); East Hamilton 6 (Howard 3, Petitt, Woods, Giles).

New Hope                              17 19 21 12 – 69

Hamilton Heights                   10 10 17 11 – 48

New Hope (69) – K. Harris 13, Byron 4, Cowles, Rudd 8, Chavis 2, Black 5, K. King 16, Tarver 8, Dean 4, Tate 3, Maize 6.

Hamilton Heights (48) – Paulauskaite 2, Balogun 2, Vukosevlievic 6, Victoria Monyei 12, Kasciunaite 8, Plentauskaite 2, Kievisaite 9, Hunt 7.

3-Point Goals: 5 (Rudd 2, King 2, Tate); Hamilton Heights 6 (Monyei 2, Kasciunaite 2, Kievisaite 1, Hunt 1).

Thursday Scores


Game 1 – Central Park 62, Prominence Academy 58

Game 2 – Hamilton Heights 72, New Hope (B) 46

Game 3 – New Hope Christian (A) 92, East Hamilton 62

Game 4 – The Rock 71, Tyner 66

Friday Schedule

Game 5 – Prominence vs. New Hope (B), 3:30 p.m.

Game 6 – East Hamilton vs. Tyner, 5 p.m.

Game 7 – Central Park vs. Hamilton Heights, 6:30 p.m.

Game 8 – New Hope (A) vs. The Rock, 8 p.m.

Saturday Schedule

Game 9 – Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6, 10:30 a.m.

Game 10 – Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6, Noon

Consolation Game

Loser Game 7 vs. Loser Game 8, 1:30 p.m.

Championship Game

Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8, 3 p.m.


Thursday Scores

New Hope 69, Hamilton Heights 48

The Rock 76, East Hamilton 39

Friday Schedule

Hamilton Heights vs. The Rock, 3:30 p.m.

East Hamilton vs. New Hope, 5 p.m.

Saturday Schedule

New Hope vs. The Rock, 10:30 a.m.

Hamilton Heights at East Hamilton, Noon

(E-mail Larry Fleming at







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