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January 2, 2002Things have been going Daniel Horton's way lately. The 6-3 point guard from Cedar Hill (Tex.) High School, who signed with Michigan in November, has helped lead his team to a 17-1 record to date. The greatest success of the season came during the Longhorns' recent trip to Lewes, Del. for the celebrated Slam Dunk to the Beach holiday tournament.
Cedar Hill opened the tournament against Washington (D.C.) Archbishop Carroll, claiming a 78-69 victory. Horton (right) put the Longhorns in the driver's seat in the first half, knocking down five of nine three-point attempts to contribute 17 points before intermission as his team streaked to a 46-30 lead. That margin was great enough to allow Cedar Hill to stave off an Archbishop Carroll rally in the second half, as Horton finished with 28 points four assists, four rebounds and two steals in 24 minutes.
In the tournament semifinal, Cedar Hill faced the alma mater of former Wolverine Jamal Crawford, Seattle Rainier Beach. The Longhorns again faced a tough challenge, but managed to claim a 59-52 win, led by Horton's 20 points. With its win, Cedar Hill advanced to the title game of the Slam Dunk to the Beach, where it would meet Germantown (Pa.) Academy, led by Florida signee Matt Walsh, Duke commitment Lee Melchionni and Vanderbilt signee Ted Skuchas.
Horton saved his best performance for last as he torched Germantown for 36 points, 24 of which came in the first half, when he hit 6-of-10 from behind the arc. For the game, Horton shot 11-of-23 from the floor, 6-of-11 from three and 8-of-9 from the line. He also grabbed 10 rebounds.
Horton's 28 ppg average in leading Cedar Hill to the championship helped him pick up Most Valuable Player honors when the All-Tournament team was named. Along the way, he also received rave reviews.
"Smooth and extremely balanced, he's playing for a Slam Dunk championship and hoping to secure a spot on the McDonald's All-America team," The Insiders Hoops wrote after the Longhorns' victory in their opener. Additional commentary on Horton's play -- and discussion of his chances to be selected for the prestigious McDonald's game -- will appear in the Premium section of this site.
The Dallas Morning News reported that Cedar Hill's Slam Dunk to the Beach title elevated it to No. 14 in one national prep poll, and No. 2 in the Southwest behind only Dallas Lincoln.
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Horton's fellow signee Chris Hunter (right), 6-11 power forward/center from Gary (Ind.) West Side, also kept busy during the holidays. West Side first traveled to the state where Hunter will play his college basketball to compete in the Motor City Classic, where the Cougars met Saginaw Buena Vista.
Hunter's numbers were efficient if unspectacular, as he helped lead West Side to a 66-42 victory with 12 points and 11 rebounds. He shot 4-of-6 from the field and hit all four of his free throws in the win.
Next, the Cougars returned to Hunter's current homefor the Gary Holiday Tournament. Their opening-round opponent, Gary Wirt, lost in similar fashion to Buena Vista, 62-42. According to the Munster (Ind.) Times, the game was "called with 53.7 seconds remaining because of a near-brawl between fans and players" after a hard foul on a West Side player.
Hunter's numbers also were reminiscent of the Buena Vista game, as he finished with 13 points and 11 boards. However, he required many more shots against Wirt, as he hit just 5-of-14 from the field and 3-of-7 from the line in the win.
The victory set up a marquee matchup in the Holiday Tournament finale, with West Side, ranked No. 1 in the Northwest Indiana region, facing No. 2 Roosevelt. On the floor, however, the Cougars found the tables turned on them.
West Side lost badly to Roosevelt, falling by a final score of 85-67, despite 19 points (5-of-10 field goald and 9-of-10 free throws) from Hunter. The Cougars were down by just three, 50-47, as the fourth quarter began. However, Hunter experienced foul trouble, ultimately fouling out, and Roosevelt scored an incredible 35 fourth-quarter points to pull away down the stretch. With the loss -- its first against an in-state opponent -- West Side fell to 8-3 on the season.
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A one-point loss to Pontiac Central in its last game dropped Michigan signee Lester Abram (right)'s Pontiac Northern team out of the No. 1 spot in Michigan Preps' state high school rankings. "If this were the NCAAs computer, the one-point loss at Central wouldn't cost the Huskies any points," the site stated. "Here it just costs them the top spot. They're still the favorite to repeat in Class A."
Right behind the Huskies at No. 3 is Detroit Redford, which improved to 6-1 with a recent win over Toledo Scott, 65-52. Junior Dion Harris, one of Michigan's top recruiting targets in his class, scored 24 points in the win.
CNNSI.com recently published an interview with 6-9 junior center Walter Waters of Detroit Southeastern. "Missouri, that's my No. 1 favorite," Waters said. "It's so quiet down there." The article also mentioned Michigan, Louisville, Iowa, Michigan State, Marquette and Houston.