Prep proving they're elite
HUNTINGTON -- Prior to Wednesday night's contest, Huntington Prep forward Thomas Bryant was honored with a plaque commemorating his time with the USA U-16 National Team, which won the Gold Medal at the FIBA Americas 2013 in Maldonado, Uruguay.
Once the game got started, Bryant showed why he was part of the team in the first place.
The highly-sought after Class of 2015 forward prospect scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to pace six double-figure scorers as Huntington Prep defeated Alice Lloyd College's junior varsity team 116-63 at St. Joseph Central Catholic School.
"It feels great when you can come out loose and just play your game," Bryant said. "Being honored like that just makes it that much better."
While with Team USA, Bryant said it was about playing for the team instead of the individual -- something Huntington Prep's players have done since a few early-season struggles.
"We just came in from break with a different mindset," Bryant said. "We came back and did our thing, you know, get back to playing Huntington Prep basketball. We want to play for each other."
The Irish haven't been a solid 3-point shooting team so far this season, but they were red hot on Wednesday evening.
Jalen Lindsay and JaQuan Lyle combined for five 3-pointers in the first five minutes of action as Huntington Prep jumped out to a 24-3 lead early.
The key to knocking down shots was the performance of point guard Josh Perkins, who used his defensive pressure early to force Alice Lloyd's guards into turnovers.
Perkins then turned his defense to offense in transition, finding open players on the fly to lead to baskets for the Express.
The future Gonzaga point guard finished with 10 points, 15 assists and five steals in the win.
"His I.Q. is high enough that he's going to make the right play," Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford said. "He had gotten into a pass, pass, pass mentality and we need him also looking for his shot. He's one of the better shooters on the team. For us to be really good, he also has to put pressure on the defense by scoring and he did that tonight, which meant good things for us."
The early outside shooting for Huntington Prep opened up the inside and the Irish did a solid job of mixing up the offense and working the ball between guards and the high post to lead to open shots.
Bryant went to work on the inside against the smaller Alice Lloyd lineup, keeping the ball high on rebounds and finishing strong. Of his 10 rebounds, seven were on the offensive end of the floor with him scoring off of five of them.
Perkins and Bryant weren't the only Huntington Prep players with a double-double. Montaque Gill-Caesar overcame a tough start from the floor to finish with 18 points and 10 rebounds. The Irish outrebounded Alice Lloyd 56-21 in the game.
Lyle finished with his third-consecutive 20-point game of 2014, scoring 17 of his 20 points in the first half. Lindsay added 15 points and eight rebounds.
"Jalen started it by hitting three straight," Fulford said. "I thought tonight was the closest we've had where everyone played really well offensively."
WVU commit Levi Cook also had 11 points and eight rebounds for Huntington Prep, whose next game comes on Saturday evening against Prime Prep at the Spalding HoopHall Classic in Springfield, Mass.
The matchup will pit two of the top 25 teams in the country against each other on a national stage. Bryant, who will be reacquainted with USA U-16 teammate Terrence Ferguson in the contest, said the game is one all of the team has had circled on the calendar.
"I'm looking forward to that," Bryant said with a smile. "They've been talking, and we've been talking, too."
Alice Lloyd got 17 points from Devon Mills and 15 from Nick Litton. Austin Brewer, who played at Tolsia High School previously, added 12.
ALICE LLOYD 12 16 25 10 -- 63: Mills 17, Litton 15, Brewer 12, Hall 8, Honeycutt 5, Adkins 4, Crawford 2
HUNTINGTON PREP 30 33 29 24 -- 116: Bryant 22, Lyle 20, Gill-Caesar 18, Lindsay 15, Cook 11, Perkins 10, Bridges 9, Spann 6, Jones 5