Future Division-1 players dazzle
IRONTON -- Spectators who stayed around Thursday for the late game on opening night of the Ironton Classic got a look at some future NCAA basketball stars bombing threes and throwing down dunks in the clash between Hargrave Military Academy of Chattam, Va., and Christian Faith Center Academy from Creedmoor, N.C.
Hargrave, coached by former Marshall University point guard A.W. Hamilton, got the better of the Conquerors, forcing more than 30 turnovers in a 111-81 victory for the Tigers.
"That's the way we play, we want to force tempo, we want to trap them, we want to make them feel uncomfortable," Hamilton said. "I feel like our depth kind of wore them down and we were able to turn them over and get easy buckets."
Hargrave boasts a strong backcourt in Anton Gill and Terry Rozier, both of whom have signed with the University of Louisville. Guard Donte Clark has signed with Virginia Tech, and Greg McClinton is headed to Wake Forest. The list goes on.
Marshall University is in the hunt for 6-foot-10 center Neville Fincher, Hamilton said. Fincher is also being recruited by Kansas State.
"Most of our guys are getting recruited, and most of them have a college scholarship already," Hamilton said. "They're great kids, and they're great student-athletes. That's what I love about them the most."
The MVP for Hargrave was awarded to an unlikely candidate in 6-foot guard Jake Handshoe.
Handshoe, who has accepted a scholarship to play at Mars Hill, knocked down four 3-pointers in the second half on the way to a 16-point night.
"It's great, but what's so great about it is he's worked so hard in practice," Hamilton said. "He's the first guy to get in the gym, and the last guy to leave. He's earned more minutes and it paid off tonight."
Christian Faith's MVP was Sharwyn McGee, a 6-6 power forward who is being courted by Campbell College and Marquette, among others. McGee finished the contest with 26 points for the Conquerors.
"He's got a chance to be really good," Hamilton said. "He's tough, he's fearless, I like him a lot."
For Hamilton, it was fun being back in the Tri-State and coaching in the Ironton Classic.
"This is like a home away from home for me," Hamilton said. "I love being here, I love the people here, and it's always fun to be back here."
The early game featured the Portsmouth West Senators and Ironton St. Joe Flyers. West came away with a 53-43 win.
The Flyers trailed for almost the entire game, but clawed their way back from a 10-point deficit to tie the contest , 33-33, with about two minutes left in the third quarter.
Ironton St. Joe took its first lead with just over a minute to go in the third, but the Senators answered with a three from Zach Frye to nudge ahead by one, and St. Joe would only score six points in the final quarter.
The Flyers were hampered at times by the full-court pressure applied by West, and the Senators were able to make free throws down the stretch to pull away.
"You have to give (St. Joe) credit, they kept coming back, and attacked our pressure at times," Portsmouth West head coach Travis Bradford said. "I was impressed with the resiliency of our guys tonight. ... we've lost some close games, and I think that experience, albeit coming from losses, helped us out."
The game marked Portsmouth West's first appearance in the Ironton Classic.
"I told our kids it's going to be a lot more fun watching this next game (Hargrave vs. Christian Faith) after a win than a loss," Bradford said.
The MVP for the Senators was J.B. Travis, who hit five free throws in the final few minutes to outdistance the Flyers.
Ironton St. Joe's MVP was Eli Lewis, who finished with 12 points.
HARGRAVE MILITARY ACADEMY 56 55 -- 111: Jake Handshoe 16, Terry Rozier 18, Greg McClinton 16, Shannon Evans 16, Anton Gill 16, Davis 5, Lawson 3, Fincher 4, Russell 3, Saunders 3.
CHRISTIAN FAITH CENTER ACADEMY 34 47 -- 81: Sharwyn McGee 26, Jalon Barnes 15, Jabriel Rahman 11, Norman 4, Smith 3, Robertson 2, Lodge 6, Allen 4, Griffin 6.
PORTSMOUTH WEST 14 12 12 15 -- 53: Travis 8, Frye 8, Zach Bolton 12, Michael Hafer 14, Martin 3.
IRONTON ST. JOE 12 11 14 6 -- 43: Lewis 12, Troy Scott 10, Mahlmeister 9, Geswein 4, Pemberton 3, Payton 3.