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December 31, 2011

St. Mark's duo impresses in North Carolina

MORE: Raleigh Thurs. | Myrtle Wed. | Myrtle Tues.

RALEIGH, N.C.- The home teams held serve at Broughton High on championship day of the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational. Led by MVP Anton Gill, Raleigh (N.C.) Ravenscroft knocked off High Point (N.C.) Wesleyan 53-44 to capture the Summit Hospitality division. In the American Airlines Division, Garner (N.C.) High held off Bronx (N.Y.) St. Raymond's 75-63. The day also featured some high level performances from guys such as Kaleb Tarczewski, Nick Stauskas and Rasheed Sulaimon among others.

Tarczewski and Stauskas too much for Miller School

It probably didn't come as a surprise to Southborough (Mass.) St. Mark's and Charlottesville (Va.) Miller School that they met in the finals of the Summit Hospitality bracket. However, they probably figured that they would be meeting in the finals of the championship side and not the consolation side like it turned out.

Led by Kansas bound four-star wing Andrew White, the Miller School controlled much of the first three-quarters of a tight game. In the fourth quarter, though, it was St. Mark's high major guys who took over as Kaleb Tarczewski and Nick Stauskas took control of the game.

The recipe was very simple. St. Mark's focused on dumping the ball into their five-star Arizona bound center Tarczewski. When he caught in the paint, it was simple for him to turn and dunk or drop in easy layups. Once the defense started collapsing, the 6-foot-5 Michigan bound Stauskas found his groove and started burying one deep shot after another.

When Stauskas is dialed in like he was on Friday, he becomes one of the more entertaining players in the country. He was throwing flashy passes, trash-talking with fans and basically took control of the game while scoring 16 of his game-high 28 points during the decisive fourth quarter.

For his part, the Miller School's White was again very good. He drained deep jumpers, used his strength to create contact and get to the line, rebounded and played both ends. Also aiding the cause was senior shooter Chase Cannon who could potentially help a lower end division one program or a good division two with his size and ability to shoot. And, he only had two points, but 6-foot-5 sophomore power forward Markell Lodge is a super bouncy and lengthy athlete who will be recruited by division one programs because of his activity level.

Sulaimon scores 21 in Consolation win

Next year, Rasheed Sulaimon will be playing right down the road for Duke in Durham. Friday, Sulaimon made sure that his Houston (Texas) Strake Jesuit club left the triangle area winners as the knocked out Middle Creek in the consolation final of the American Airlines bracket.

A 6-foot-4 shooting guard, the four-star Sulaimon is really relied upon to do many things for Strake. He's basically their best option at every position on the floor so that leaves lots for him to do. What he's best at, though, is knocking down one to two dribble pull-up jumpers going to his right or left and playing defense.

While there's nothing flashy about his game, Sulaimon is very effective and his high basketball IQ means that he plays hard and aggressive while limiting mistakes.

While Sulaimon was terrific in scoring 21, the story of the game was Middle Creek senior Rashawn King. The young man was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010 and is playing his way through chemotherapy and radiation treatment. He received a special introduction during the pre-game and was correctly labeled as a "true warrior". The kind of love he has for the game is infectious and he's an inspiring kid.

Final notes from Raleigh

Plane reservations kept Rivals.com from watching the final two championship games on Friday but there are some final observations from Raleigh.

N.C. State bound Rodney Purvis is really struggling right now. He's a deluxe full-court athlete with strength, but teams are figuring out how to defend him and he's pressing. The 6-foot-3 five-star was visibly frustrated and played like he's got the weight of the world on his shoulders while being asked to do a lot for Upper Room Christian. He will have to adjust to playing without the ball in his hands quite so much in college, but having a guy like Tyler Lewis to share responsibilities with should really help.

Make no mistake about it, Indiana bound big man Peter Jurkin is still quite raw and will need time to develop in Bloomington. But, he seems to be coming along well after missing extended time with injury. The seven footer was aggressive on the glass during both games we saw and also committed himself to shot blocking. He was good for 15 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocks on Friday and made life miserable for any Upper Room player trying to finish on the interior.

The progress of Garner (N.C.) High freshman Julius Barnes will be fun to watch. At about 5-foot-6, he's tiny, but the kid is an absolute jet on the floor and plays with zero fear and was a game changer for Garner during their semifinal win.

Finally, Kinston (N.C.) High has a good looking freshman themselves in 6-foot-4 SG/SF Brandon Ingram. At this point he's rail thin, but he shows good skill, a feel for the game and his baby face, long arms and huge feet suggest that he's got plenty of growing left to do.



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