The Burlington School vs. Archbishop Spalding
In their second round matchup of the Devonte Graham Bracket, defending NCISAA 2A State Champions The Burlington School (TBS) took on Maryland’s Archbishop Spalding. TBS struck first and held a nine point halftime lead behind the play of Kheni Briggs, Michael Nwoko and Avion Pinner. However, Spalding made their run in the third quarter as Jordan Pennick and Cam Whitmore got hot. TBS held onto a 51-50 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Burlington School was able to pull away in the fourth and finish with a 72-63 win to advance to the championship game. Once again, TBS adds another premier win on a national level to its resume. TBS is a well oiled machine. So many players step up on a nightly basis. Coach Ryan Bernardi continues to build his program as one worthy of much deserved national attention.
The Burlington School was led by Charleston Southern commit Kheni Briggs who finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal. Briggs shot the ball extremely well from the perimeter going 4-6 from three-point range.
In addition to Briggs, TBS had three other players in double digits as Zion Walker had 11 points, 1 rebound and 3 assists. Avion Pinner had 11 points and 6 rebounds. Shane Peterson added 12 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Although he didn’t score but just 5 points, Kobe George continues to produce on both ends. He led the team with 6 assists and sets the tone on the defensive end.
Spalding’s Jordan Pennick showcased his ability to score the ball in a variety of ways. The tough, strong guard is able to get downhill and finish at the basket through contact. In addition, he knocked down shots from the perimeter and midrange. Pennick finished with 19 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists, going 3-7 from behind the arc.
Villanova commit Cam Whitmore put on a show once again with his highlight reel dunks and scoring ability. He’s super explosive and has the ability to make plays in a variety of ways. Whitmore finished with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 1 assist.
Combine vs. Word of God
In a highly anticipated matchup in the Hoop State, #1 ranked Combine Academy and Word of God faced off. From start to finish, this game did not disappoint. It was back and forth from start to finish. Throughout the game, there were 15 lead changes and 17 times when the game was tied.
It was all tied up at 66-66 with under a minute remaining when Combine’s AJ Smith knocked down a pull-up three-pointer to take the lead at 69-66. But on the following possession, Word of God’s PoBoigh King finished with a spin move finish at the basket and got the and-one, tying the game at 69-69. The game went into overtime.
In overtime, both teams traded baskets. To take the lead, Word of God’s Freddie Dilione knocked down back to back midrange jumpers then assisted to Brandon Gardner to take the lead at 77-75. Word of God held on for the 83-79 win.
Word of God was led by Freddie Dilione who finished with 24 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Dilione continues to have a stellar junior season and is making the case as the number one player in North Carolina’s 2023 class. His ability to impact the game and make plays as a scorer and creator set him apart. He was really good out of ball screens, getting downhill, finishing at the cup, and also knocked down multiple tough pull-up jumpers over contested hands.
PoBoigh King also had a big game for the Holy Rams finishing with 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 assist. Just like his teammate, King knocked down multiple tough shots off the bounce. Brandon Gardner also added 16 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist. He was great on the glass and on the defensive end. He finished strong in the paint, finishing strong above the rim.
AJ Smith was absolutely terrific for Combine, finishing with a game-high 29 points, 2 rebounds and 1 steal. He is one of the top available unsigned seniors in the region. Using his strong, physical frame, he got downhill and finished at a high level at the basket. Not to mention, he knocked down several pull-up jumpers in the midrange.
Virginia Tech commit Patrick Wessler finished with a double-double of 10 points, 14 rebounds, 1 assist and 4 blocks. His future college teammate, MJ Collins, in his second game with the Goats added 13 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist and 2 steals.
Moravian Prep vs. Southern California Academy
In the second semifinal matchup of the TJ Warren Bracket, we had another close game between Moravian Prep and Southern California Academy. SoCal led 27-24 heading into halftime, being led by Jaylen Thompson, Jaxon Kohler, and Amaree Abram.
In the closing minutes, Moravian cut it to three points with a chance to tie the game. SoCal’s Dior Johnson came up with a steal and converted on the other end to seal the win at 61-56.
SoCal’s Amaree Abram was exceptional early on. Abram finished with 8 points to go along with 10 rebounds and a game-high 5 assists. He has a great feel for the game. He’s strong and explosive, creating off the bounce and getting downhill, finishing at the rim, but also sees the floor well and finds the open man.
Michigan State commit Jaxon Kohler was tremendous once again, finishing with a double-double and game-high 18 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists. He has outstanding footwork and is so skilled. He can score over either shoulder in the post, and also stretch the court.
Moravian was led by Ryan Roberts who finished with 18 points on 6-7 shooting from three. He was key in their second half efforts. Mayar Wol also had a productive game with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists. Wol showcased his versatility with his ability to knock down shots from the perimeter, and also finish well above the rim with his athleticism.