Great matchup The Master’s Academy (Fla.), featuring uber-quick Jakobi Bonner, and the Gaels of Mount St. Joseph (Md.). Both schools are in the ‘Iolani Classic for the first time and have played well. I’ve seen more of the Eagles than the Gaels, so I know what to expect of them, especially Bonner and crafty PG Tanner Rubio.
Rubio is on fire already with two NBA-range treys and a drive baseline for a layup. Eagles lead 18-11.
Brooks Cluxton, TMA’s 6-7 post, working hard to keep the offensive board alive. Passes to Rubio on the arc, and he drives and dishes a sweet one-handed bounce pass back to Cluxton for an easy deuce. Josh Marble adds a corner 3 off the bench as the Eagles take a 23-16 lead after one quarter.
Jalen Smith, a 6-8 sophomore, is very active on the low post, offensive glass and perimeter as a defender. He’s got a few layups already and a steal. Rubio with the nice hustle play, intercepting a transition pass by MSJ near the sideline, then throwing it off a Gael as he fell out of bounds. Rubio just drove to Bonner for two layups in a row. They are controlling this game with simple, beautiful basketball IQ. Eagles lead 29-20. Time out, MSJ, 5:27.
Wild finish to close the half. Darryl Morsell’s dunk tied the game at 30, and the Gaels led on Jefferson Collins’ drive to the bucket. But Collins missed a point-blank layup on a fastbreak, and Bonner went from one end to the other before dishing to Cole Thomas for a corner 3 with 6 seconds left in the half.
The Master’s Academy 36, Mount St. Joseph 34, halftime.
Game is even looser and faster in now. Not a lot of defense being played in terms of physicalness, but both teams pushing hard on every fastbreak. Rubio had a crazy play, knocked down near midcourt, the defender went low to take the ball away. Rubio kept his dribble alive and while on his knees, dribbled the ball in a circle from right to behind his back to left. Dished the ball to a teammate, who found another Eagle for a 3.
Now he drives right and gets the ball up high on the glass Steve Nash style for a layup. Now he drives and kicks to Thomas for a corner 3. That ties the game at 54.
Defenses locking in now. Marble comes up big with his second 3 of the game for a 57-54 TMA lead. Then Nigel Jackson knocks down a wide-open corner 3 over the zone to tie the game. Time out, MSJ.
Miller steps to the corner to hit a 3, 60-57, MSJ. Bonner at the line after going hard on the fastbreak to the hoop. Makes the first. Misses the second. Now Darryl Morsell hits an elbow J. 62-58. Morsell with the dunk after Miller steals the ball from Rubio. 64-58.
Rubio weaves through traffic for an and-1 layup and MSJ’s fans are upset a travel wasn’t called. 64-61. Morsell with another layup, 66-61. Rubio feeds CLuxton cutting to the rim, easy layup. 66-63 MSJ.
Smith fouled in the paint, shooting two, 2:39. First shot short. Second shot short.
Rubio drives again and slices through the middle for a layup. Then it’s Pierre Johnson driving to the bucket for an MSJ basket. There is no defensive wall at the rim for Master’s whatsover. MSJ leads 68-65, time out, Master’s, 2:00.
Miller drives to the bucket for a layup before the Eagles can foul him and put him at the line. 70-65.
Rubio drives and draws another foul. MSJ fans complaining again. They wanted a traveling violation. That’s just the fifth team foul for MSJ. :46.
Gaels steal the ball on a handoff from Thomas to Rubio, and Morsell flushes it. 72-65. Bonner drives hard and gets the foul. He hits two FTs. 72-67.
Miller 1-and-1, :25.8. He makes the first and the second. 74-67.
Bonner drives past one Gael but his layup is pinned by Jackson. Wilson misses a 1-and-1 with :15 left, and Greg Gallon drives for a layup. Time out, Master’s, :11.2, 74-69.
Gaels can’t get the ball in, time out. They have two more time outs left. Eagles have one.
Morsell 1-and-1, :09.7. He misses and Bonner goes coast to coast, but instead of an easy layup, he kicks it to Gallon, who eschews the 3 and drives. He misses a tough shot.
MSJ adds two more FTs with :00.8 left. Final is 76-69
Today’s games should be the closest of any day in the tourney with all these teams paired up after similar results. And the games have been much closer in general. Still, the scoring margins today have been 12, 19, 14, 14, 17 and 7. Feels closer.