PALM SPRINGS, Calif. —
It was a long haul for the King
boys basketball team from Milwaukee (Wis.) to the MaxPreps Holiday Classic.
"Left Christmas morning and it was about 20 degrees," said King standout sophomore Jordan Poole
. "This place is a whole lot different."
It was a lot longer trip for the
Oakley College (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria)
, a prep school team from Spain.
"From start to finish it was almost 30 hours," said Oakley team manager Rob Orellano, a Southern California native who once coached at Cal State Fullerton. "We left at 6 a.m. our time on Christmas Eve. We had a four-hour layover in Madrid, flew nine hours to Philadelphia, had four-hour layover there, waited couple hours to rent a car and then drove 90 minutes to my Aunt's home for Christmas."
If the distance and time wasn't long enough for either at Friday's opening-day in the Open Division, their classic game went double-overtime to boot. Double-overtime on top of travel overtime equals gritty efforts on both sides.
"It's 2:30 a.m. right now where these boys come from," Orellano said. "These boys showed a lot of resiliency."
Oakley pulled away for a 79-69 victory behind 25 points from Dimitrje Nikolic, 15 from Alejandro Gonzalez
and 12 points by Jon Pena
. Like most European teams, Oakley was carried by their big men and shooting. It made 12 3-pointers, four by the 6-11 Nikolic, who made two to open the second overtime.
Those daggers seemed to finally put away King, which got 19 points by Poole, 14 from Joe Binyoti
and a combined 23 from Diamantae Freeman
and Marquis Turner
The travel and out-of-state teams were the story of the first day of the MaxPreps Holiday Classic in the 16-team Open Division.
"We didn't play very well," Orellano said. "We were embarrassed how we played. We must have had 35-40 turnovers. But we're not used to seeing that kind of quickness in Spain. (King) exploited it." See live scores, schedules more from MPHC
If King didn't present problems enough, there is also rule changes Oakley had to get used to. In Spain there is a 24-second clock (USA is 30 seconds), there's no 5-second rule to advance the ball in the front court, a backcourt violation is eight seconds (it's 10 in USA) and a coach in Spain is the only one who can call timeout.
"And it must be made to the referee at the scorer's table," Orellano said. "It was all an education."
While Oakley had trouble with King's quickness, King had trouble with Oakley's size and length. Oakley has a pair of 7-footers and four other players 6-8 or taller. King had no player taller than 6-5.
"I'm pleased because we should be able to handle the pressure better as the tournament goes on," Orellano said.
Each team fought through rough stretches and King forced each overtime with late makes. 4 drilled a 3-pointer with 12.0 seconds left to force the first overtime, then he made a steal and fed 14 for layup with 3.8 seconds left to force a second OT.
"We have to make better decisions," Poole said. "We played hard, but we just need to play better."
Win or lose, Poole said, Christmas day or not, flying to California "is a great experience. We're only going to get better."
More happy trails: Pebblebrook (Mableton, Ga.)
coach George Washington said he wasn't too popular among the team's parents, taking their children across country on Christmas day. He gained a few more fans after the Falcons' fantastic 69-67 win over Damien (La Verne, Calif.)
Behind a combined 44 points from
and Ty Hudson
, Pebblebrook fought through numerous runs by Damien which led by as much as 12. A beautiful back-door pass from Harper (23 points) to Hudson (21 points) for a reverse layup gave Pebblebrook a 68-65 lead with 55 seconds left.
After Malik Fitts
(25 points) made two free throws with 20.7 seconds left, but after Pebblebrook missed the front end of a one-and-one, Jeremy Hemsley
was called for a charge and the Georgia semifinalists hung on.
"Great win against a really good opponent," Washington said. "Those guys could really shoot, which wasn't on my scouting report."
Washington got the report from some Southern California coaches. "Oh well," Washington said with a grin.
Washington said even had his team lost, or don't win the tournament, it will a worthwhile trip.
"The kids got to see snow on mountain tops," Washington said. "They got to see wind tunnels and solar panels. It's all stuff they've never seen before. That's what this program is about."
Pebblebrook had only one win the year before Washington and his staff took over in 2012. The Falcons were 12-13 in his first season and last year went 24-6. They improved to 9-1 after Friday's win. Damien, which got 21 points by
, dropped to 8-2.
"We preach all the time to stick together through adversity and that's what we did tonight," Washington said.Texas cooking:
One of the more anticipated games of the first round turned out to be a rout. Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas)
, which flew in Friday morning, defeated Northern California power Folsom
77-51 in a game that felt decided in the first four minutes.
That's largely because the Lions are so large, specifically twin towers Djery Baptiste
and Schnider Herard
, a pair of 6-11, 245-pound posts who dominated inside. Herard had 18 points and though Baptiste only had eight, he controlled the inside defensively.
"(Baptiste) is the best defensive player I've ever coached," said Prestonwood coach Chris Lovell, who coached Lakers forward Julius Randle. "He changes everything."
The Lions also got 17 points from
and 16 apiece from Evan Peters
and Chris Stephens
. The performance from Peters, fighting through an early-season injury, was very encouraging to Lovell. Prestonwood Christian went 2-2 at the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas last week and the Lions haven't quite been in synch.
On Friday they led from start to finish against a team that won 32 games last year, was 9-0 coming into Friday and No. 2 in the state (12th nationally) by the MaxPreps computer rankings. Folsom got 17 points from super junior guard Jordan Ford
, but looked in transition with three rotational players back this week from its state championship football team.
"That's a very good team which is going to win a lot of games again this year," Lovell said. "This was a good win for us." NorCal blues: Moreau Catholic (Hayward, Calif.)
saved Northern California's bacon with an impressive 67-56 win over previously unbeaten Issaquah (Wash.)
(5-1). The Mariners (4-3) outscored the Washington power in every quarter.
Cal-bound junior forward
had 22 points and Damari Milstead
, a MaxPreps freshman All-American had 17 for Moreau, which only allowed four Issaquah players to score, led by Ty Gibson
, who made five 3-pointers and scored a game-high 25 points.
Two other NorCal teams joined Folsom on the short end. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.)
had trouble matching up with the size of Etiwanda (Calif.)
, then watched Delewis Johnson
drill five straight 3-pointers en route to a game-high 25 points to a 68-49 defeat. Kameron Edwards
had 14 points and Jordan Naughton
10 points for Etiwanda, which took control defensively in the second quarter, allowing only five points. Sophomore transfer Sebastian Much
led Mitty with 14 points and Ben Kone
had 13. Sacramento
put up a good fight but ultimately couldn't contain Remy Martin
(16 points), Devearl Ramsey
(12 points), Adam Seiko
(11 points) and Cody Riley
(nine points) who led Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth)
to a 62-55 win. Sierra Canyon did a tremendous job containing 4-star junior recruit Solomon Young
down low. He had just three points, but Christian Terrell
drilled four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points and Andrew Williams
More games: In the other Open Division first-round game, Alemany (Mission Hills, Calif.)
defeated Saddleback Valley Christian (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.)
63-58. ... Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
, after rolling to an 85-26 play-in win over host Rancho Mirage
, defeated American Fork (Utah) 63-46 behind 15 points from MJ Cage
and 14 from La'vette Parker
. Today's Open Division quarterfinals:
In winners-bracket play at
Rancho Mirage, Sierra Canyon (5-1) vs. Alemany (8-2), 3 p.m.; Etiwanda
(8-2) vs. Oakley (1-0); 4:30; Prestonwood Christian (14-3) vs.
Pebblebrook (9-1) , 6 p.m.; Moreau Catholic (4-3) vs. Mater Dei (9-2),