Opening day of the holiday-season Jameer Nelson/Pete Nelson Scholastic Play by Play Classic featured a fistful of close games, including Archbishop Carroll defeating Bartram, 60-57, in a Catholic League-Public League duel yesterday.
In its sixth year, the showcase boys' basketball tournament features 30 teams from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York playing 19 games over four days at multiple sites. The first five games were held at Widener University's Schwartz Center yesterday with the action moving to Gwynedd Mercy College Sunday. The tournament returns to Widener Monday and finishes its run at both Gwynedd Mercy and North Catholic High School on Wednesday.
In addition to Carroll's victory over Bartram, Strawberry Mansion beat Girard College, 74-72; Norristown outlasted West Chester Rustin, 67-62, in overtime; Life Center (N.J.) outscored Friends' Central, 56-49; and Plymouth Whitemarsh topped Chester, 65-46.
Carroll was led by junior forward Juan'ya Green who not only scored 24 points but got a hand in the face of Bartram's Tyrone Garland on a last-second three-point try, forcing a traveling violation and sealing the win for the Patriots.
"We try to play the best non-league schedule we can possibly have and play in these type of events so we can be battle-tested going into the Catholic League," Carroll coach Paul Romanczuk said. "I thought it was a great high school basketball atmosphere, and luckily for us, we stepped up at the end and made plays."
Carroll senior point guard D.J. Irving added 21 points, and he and Green each shot 8-for-9 from the foul line to withstand Bartram's 22-point fourth quarter outburst.
"Juan'ya and D.J. have been there, done that," Romanczuk said. "This is nothing new for them, to come out on top in big games."
Bartram's Garland, who has committed to play at Virginia Tech, finished with a game-high 26 points and scored 12 points in the fourth period.
"He does that, and we have to be careful that we don't stand around watching," said Bartram coach James Brown. "We have a bad habit of doing that. We stand around and watch Ty."
Still, Brown saw some good coming from the game.
"This is going to prepare us well for the postseason in the Public League, as well as the states if we advance," said Brown whose Braves return to Widener 8 p.m., Monday to face Chester.
Strawberry Mansion 74
Girard College 72
Girard College star guard John Johnson (headed to Pittsburgh) dropped 36 points for the Cavaliers in a two-point loss to Strawberry Mansion in the day's first game. Mansion senior guard D.J. Newbill dropped 22 points and made the game-winning shot, a three-pointer with 15 seconds remaining.
Johnson and Girard College will have a chance to redeem themselves at 3:30 p.m., today when they play a second showcase game against Archbishop Wood at Gwynedd Mercy College.
West Chester Rustin 62, OT
Norristown beat West Chester Rustin behind 21 points from senior guard/forward Jahquil Hargrove.
Rustin junior forward Cory Blake made a layup with 8.7 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 56 and send it into OT. But Eagles senior guard Sheldon Mayer hit a three-pointer to open the scoring in the extra period and Norristown never trailed after that.
Life Center 56
Friends Central 49
In the fourth game, Life Center (N.J.) outscored Friends' Central by 12 points in the fourth quarter to win despite the efforts of the Phoenix' Dominic Morris (13 points) and Travis Robinson (10 points).
Plymouth Whitemarsh 65
When Plymouth Whitemarsh's Jaylen Bond swooped into the lane late in the third quarter for a two-handed dunk against Chester, the 6-foot-7 Colonials junior forward illustrated what everyone in the gym wanted to say – this one's over.
The Colonials demolished the hometown Clippers, 65-46, extending an eight-point halftime lead to a 50-30 advantage at the end of the third quarter behind Bond (15 points), 6-foot-10 senior center C.J. Aiken (19) and senior guard Whis Grant (17).
The tournament carries the name of the Orlando Magic's Jameer Nelson, who played at Chester, and his younger brother, Maurice Nelson, led the Clippers with 14 points.
PW validated its No. 3 Inquirer preseason Southeastern Pennsylvania boys ranking and could move up a spot with No. 2 Friends' Central losing to Life Center on the same court in the previous game.
PW plays its second game of the Nelson Classic against Academy of the New Church at 6:15 p.m., Wednesday, at Gwynedd Mercy College.