For 3rd Place, Texas Division
Heritage Christian (TX) vs. Westbury Christian (TX)
Ebi opened his full bag of tricks all weekend on both offense and defense. According to Basketball America's Michael Kruse, he was "possibly the best player on the floor all day on Friday." Considering that Perkins, Ariza, Anthony, Ibrahim, Gray, Williams had all been on the same floor, that is glowing praise.
Combine that assessment with an extreme, put that in bold print, EXTREME distaste for anything less than winning and you have, potentially, one of the best juniors in high school basketball. He's agile, he's been measured leaping 23 inches above the rim with two steps from the foul line, he has three point range, he's 6-9 and growing, and he plays stifling defense.
What more can you ask for? Well, Ebi asks a lot more of himself. He's working on his left hand to get it to the point of his right hand. He's increasing his conditioning. And he's studying basketball every day, from film to watching the local pros, to get better.
Ebi mentions several ACC schools in the mix when asked about schools he enjoys hearing from, including Carolina and Duke. About 75 coaches and assistants, along with between 15 and 20 professional scouts had the opportuntity to witness Ebi in action this weekend at the Academy National Invitational Tournament.
Stay tuned for interviews with Ebi, his father and his coaches.
The matchup: Heritage Christian had defeated Clements (TX) 65 – 54 on Thursday and lost to Westfield (TX) in a heartbreaker on Friday, 67 – 66 to arrive at today's game.
Westbury Christian (TX), featuring promising junior 6-9 Carolina target, Ndudi Ebi, had won their first contest on Thursday against overmatched Texas City (TX), 61 – 50 but then lost their own heartbreaker to Cypress Springs, 64 – 62 yesterday evening.
In today's game, Heritage Christian made an early 12 – 4 run on the strength of standout 6-6 wing, Tim Mayes (first half: 16 points) and by the end the first quarter, Westbury faced a 19 – 28 deficit. Cedric Hensley, of the 101-point game" fame, posterized Ebi two minutes into the first quarter with a soaring dunk and ended the first half with nine points and six rebounds.
Taking Heritage's challenge seriously, phenom junior high major recruit Ebi rose to the challenge and made a powerful statement with his play in the first half. On 7 – 13 shooting (54%), Ebi turned the early deficit around and, by the end of the half Westbury led Heritage, 41 – 39, with a three pointer by Ugo Ihekweazu at the buzzer.
The lead see-sawed back and forth through the third quarter, but with 24 seconds left in the quarter, Ebi's athletic baseline reverse layup and free throw on the foul by Hensley made the score 60 – 57 in Heritage's favor.
Ebi led off the fourth quarter with a driving slam. Patience in their set offense paid off for Westbury with another driving layup by Ebi a minute later. At that point, with 6:00 minutes to go in the game, the score was Heritage 62 Westbury 61.
Ebi made one of two free throws to tie the score at 65 a minute later. In the next sequence Hensley missed a power slam and Ebi soared high above the rim to block a putback attempt. At the 3:00 minute mark the score was 65 – 65 and then Ebi hit a short jumper. Tim Mayes' two free throws tied the score back at 67 thirty seconds later.
Lucian Graham's 4-footer and then Cedric Hensley's layin at the rim caused another tie at the 1:30 mark. Holding the ball, Westbury forced Heritage to come out on them at the :45 mark. A subsequent foul by Marlon Pompey gave a one and one to 6-3 guard, Tony Taccolini, for Westbury. Taccolini missed the front end of the one and one with 25 seconds left and Marlon Pompey laid the ball in at the other end for Heritage with 10 seconds left. Score: Heritage 71, Westbury 69.
Almost everyone in the gym knew where the ball was going in the final 10 seconds—to Ndudi Ebi. On the inbounds play, Ebi received the ball and at five seconds put up a long three pointer that missed. On the rebound, Hensley dove for the ball but traveled, giving Westbury one last attempt at either the tie or the win in the remaining three seconds.
With Graham inbounding the ball to Ebi, the long three banked off the rim to give Heritage third place in the tourney.
Ebi of Westbury Christian was game high scorer with 29 points and nine rebounds (eight defensive). Ivy league prospect, Lucian Graham hit 63% of his shots for 15 points. Ugo Ihekweazu added ten points.
For Heritage Christian, it was truly a team effort, with Tim Mayes hitting for 21 points and grabbing nine rebounds (six offensive), Cedric Hensley carding 17 points and nine rebounds, Lamar Hurd scoring ten and getting six rebounds, Marlon Pompey adding eight points and five boards, and Elijah Miller finishing with seven points and seven rebounds.
Heritage Christian: Hurd, Lamar 4-6 0-0 10; Mayes, Tim 6-13 3-4 21; Pompey, Marlon 2-7 4-5 8; Miller, Elijah 3-8 1-2 7; Watson, Jahson 1-5 2-2 4; Hensley, Cedrick 7-14 3-4 17; Stewart, Brandon 2-7 0-0 4
Westbury Christian: Connolly, Paul 3-5 1-1 7; Sadler, Blake 2-2 0-0 4; Brown, Chase 1-2 0-0 2; Graham, Lucian 7-11 0-0 15; Taccolini, Tony 1-2 0-0 2; Ihekweazu, Ugo 4-6 1-2 10; Ebi, Ndudi 11-20 6-9 29
Ebi's Individual Stats Against Heritage Christian (TX) Points 29 FG 11-20 3 pter 1-3 FT 6-9 Rebounds 9 (1 off.) Assists 2 TO 0 Assist to TO 2.0 Blocks 6 Steals 2 Ebi's Individual Stats All 3 games of tournament Points 26.3 FG 34-58 (59%) 3 pter 2-5 (40%) FT 9-18 (50%) Rebounds 12.7 (3.7 off.) Assists 2.0 TO 1.7 Assist to TO 1.2 Blocks 4.7 Steals 1.3