City of Palms: Day Four

<b>FORT MYERS, Fla. –</b> Daniel Bryant and Corey Claitt lifted Palm Beach Lakes into the finals at the City of Palms Classic. P.B.L. advanced to meet upset minded Niagara Falls in the title game Wednesday.

Palm Beach Lakes 64, Seattle Prep 60
Niagara Falls 68, Arlington Country Day 67
Mater Dei 89, Athens 49
South Gwinnett 74, Dunwoody 65
Milwaukee Vincent 57, Denham Springs 34
Episcopal Academy 77, Fort Meyers 49

Title Game Preview

A pair of pre-tournament longshots advanced to play in the championship game of the 32nd City of Palms Classic. Both teams used spirited, tough guard play to spring upsets en route to the finals. Niagara Falls was led by strong junior guard Paul Harris who fought for everything against A.C.D. Meanwhile, Palm Beach Lakes squeezed out a win over Seattle Prep behind junior wing Corey Claitt and senior point man Daniel Bryant.

2005 Checklist

Daniel Bryant, PG, Palm Beach Lakes: He's only 5-foot-8 but he's a heady, tough customer who's not bad at making 3s. The leader of this team scraps to get what he can. If he can cut back on his turnovers that would help but he gets a lot out of that tiny frame.

Martell Webster, SG, Seattle Prep: He had 27 points but things didn't come easy for him on this night as he connected on just 10-of-23 shots from the field, including 3-for-9 from downtown. He played hard, just wasn't Prep's night as the scrappy tandem of guards from Palm Beach Lakes gave Prep's guard rotation all it could handle.

Elliott Johnson, PF, Vincent: Too bad he's not going to have grades because Atlantic 10 schools and below would be lining up to recruit this bouncy four man who can run and rebound. In a rout, he had 14 to lead Vincent. He's a tremendous junior college prospect.

Louis Williams, G, South Gwinnett: He went 6-for-10 from the field and 12-for-13 from the line for 24 points. Turnovers still plagued him and he was visibly frustrated at times. South Gwinnett, as a team, hasn't hit its stride and there's that big game against Lanier in mid-January that looms large. For now, South Gwinnett owns bragging rights in Georgia as it knocked off highly rated Dunwoody.

2006 Checklist

Josue Soto, PG, Arlington Country Day: The little man with a lot of heart started hot and finished strong. He was a perfect 5-for-5 from downtown and had 25 points. A.C.D. played hard and matched Niagara Falls intensity but couldn't close them out.

Paul Harris, SG/SF, Niagara Falls: 15 points and 11 rebounds to go with an all out effort and determination for the junior. He's the toughest guy on a team of tough perimeter players and they create tempo and are knocking off good teams like its old habit.

Jason Bennett, C, Arlington Country Day: You have to watch him very closely to see that he changes ends well and has offensive skill. He's young and still putting the pieces together but he's coming along and making strides. For example, he had an athletic put back and offensive rebound late in the game that most kids his size can't fathom. He's working on the hook shot and the tools are there. He had 6 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocks but looking inside at his game reveals the strides he continues to make.

Gerald Henderson & Wayne Ellington: These guys went off and torched Fort Meyers in a loser's bracket game. Ellington, truly a model of efficiency at the guard slot, made 12-for-14 field goals to the tune of 35 points. Henderson wasn't bad either 18 points and 9 rebounds.

Anjuan Wilderness, SF, Dunwoody: He went for 17 and 11 in the loss to Gwinnett. Wilderness is a run-jump athlete and when he's working inside and being active can really boost a team. He's going to need to work on the perimeter skills to advance his game at his size.

Corey Claitt, SG, Palm Beach Lakes: He's the offensive motor of this team and their leading scorer. So far he's gone up against Louis Williams and Martell Webster and didn't flinch either time. He's athletic and plays in attack mode and right now P.B.L. needs him to score and he's delivering the goods.

Spencer Hawes, C, Seattle Prep: When you make 6 of your 8 shots from the field, it probably means that you needed more touches. That was the case with Hawes as Palm Beach Lakes' defense on the perimeter slowed down the entry passes inside. Good skilled showing by Hawes who had 18 points and made shots with both hands in the paint.

2007 Checklist

Taylor King, SF, Mater Dei: His outstanding play at the City of Palms continued. In an absolute throttling of Athens, King made 4 3s and went off for 25 points.

News & Notes

Kansas assistant Joe Dooley was in the house watching Wayne Ellington and Spencer Hawes. … Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt was in town for Hawes, Ellington and Henderson. … Villanova assistant Ed Pinckney was in the house watching Ellington and Henderson. … Daniel Bryant will make an official visit to South Alabama the weekend of January 29th. …

Scout's Views

Athens just doesn't have the horses to compete in the main draw of a tournament this significant but they've given it their best shot. Hendrix had 14 and 4 rebounds in Tuesday's Mater Dei loss. … While we're on the subject of tough losses, Denham Springs took one on the cheek as Vincent ripped them. Tasmin Mitchell and Co. were never in this one and "Taz" finished with 11 and 5. … From a college prospective, Marcus Landry is a guy you want on your team. He's going to give max effort. …

Robert Garrison was the unlikely offensive spark for Niagara Falls as he went for 25 points, including 5 3s. …

This concludes our comprehensive coverage from Fort Meyers, though we'll report back on who won the championship!

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