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2016 Jerry Tarkanian Classic: Day 4
by Dinos Trigonis
(December 19, 2016)

The 5th annual Jerry Tarkanian Classic semi-finals were held on Monday for all bracketed Divisions.

In Platinum Division Semi-final I, it was Chino Hills/CA rallying from a 12 point half-time deficit to topple upstart Roosevelt/Eastvale CA 76-68.  Eli Scott had 23 huge points (18 of which came in the 2nd half) and 11 rebounds to spark the Huskies.  Gelo Ball produced 21 points while Melo Ball chipped in with 17 points (including two huge 3-point bombs in the 2nd half).  Oneyka Okongwu cleaned the glass down the stretch (12 rebounds) and connected on timely face-up jump shots.  Roosevelt’s Jemarl Baker (Cal signee) had a sizzling 1st half shooting display (16 points/4 of 5 from 3-point range) and ended with a game-high 27 points.  Matt Mitchell added 16 points for the Steve Singleton’s Mustangs.

In Platinum Division Semi-final II, like Chino Hills, Mater Dei/Santa Ana CA) used a late 2nd half rally of its own to pull past tourney host Bishop Gorman/Las Vegas NV 86-79.  Spencer Freedman (26) and Justice Sueing (25) combined

for 51 points while a flu-stricken Mike Wang added 14 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists.  Bishop Gorman was led by seniors Christian Popoola (24 points) and Charles O’Bannon (17 points).

In the Eastbay Division Semi-Finals, Godby (Tallahassee FL) raced past Woods Cross (UT) 59-38 as Corbin Merritt scored a game-high 16 points and Thunder Ridge/CO knocked off Las Vegas HS 67-56 as Corey Seng scored a game-high 23 points.

In Orleans Division Semi-Finals Lone Peak/UT need OT to slip past George Washington/Denver CO 89-82 as Steven Ashworth (19), Dyson Frank (19) and Taylor Madsen (17) combined for 55 points for Lone Peak.  Jervay Green had a game-high 29 points for George Washington while Jon’il Fugett added 21 points. 
In the other semi, Sheldon/Sacramento CA used its speed and athleticism to race past American Fork/UT 62-46 as Elijah Duplechan scored 18 points to lead Sheldon while Isaac Johnson had 19 points for American Fork/UT.

Mater Dei will face Chino Hills on Tuesday at 6:20pm and Bishop Gorman in the Platinum Division Finale and Bishop Gorman will battle Roosevelt earlier that day for 3rd Place at 5:00pm. 

Both games as well as all remaining Tarkanian Classic contests will be live-streamed at Baller.tv.

Below are the players that showed up and showed out on Day 4:

Eli Scott                                6’5”     2017   Chino Hills (Chino Hills CA)
Scott is an absolute warrior and a flat-out winner!  Faced with the prospect of being upset by Roosevelt, Eli dug deeper and delivered a performance reflective of the champion he is.  It was not only his critical 18 second half points but as importantly his incredible effort on the boards and on the defensive end that helped Chino Hills to rally and win and advance to the Tarkanian Classic Platinum title game.  Absolute steal for LMU and great news for Mike Dunlap’s continued effort in rebuilding the WCC program.

Jemarl Baker                       6’4”     2017   Roosevelt (Eastvale CA)
Well-known as a terrific shooter, Baker was red-hot in the 1st half versus Chino Hills which resulted in Roosevelt sprinting out to a 12 point half-time lead only to see that lead evaporate late in 2nd half in Chino Hills’ come-back win.  Several of the Cal-signee’s long range bombs were of the NBA 3-point variety.

LiAngelo Ball                       6’5”     2017   Chino Hills (Chino Hills CA)
Despite having a sub-par 1st half (6/20 FG), Gelo bounced back in 2nd half, making several key buckets and ending up with 21 points.  Strong and hard to handle in the post, Ball is a Mark Aguirre-type back-to-the basket player that is a high volume scorer.

LaMelo Ball                          6’2”     2019   Chino Hills (Chino Hills CA)
Ultra-confident shooter is a dangerous 3-point flame-thrower that made 2 huge 3’s in the 2nd half that helped spark Chino Hills winning rally.  Ball ended with 17 points.  Like older brothers, Melo is headed to UCLA.

Spencer Freedman            6’1”     2018   Mater Dei (Santa Ana CA)
Freedman did an impressive job directing Mater Dei’s offensive attack despite being the focus of Bishop Gorman’s defense.  Spencer not only connected from long-range but also made several nifty drives to the cup which he converted despite heavy defensive harassment.  Spencer ended with a game-high 26 points to go along with 3 assists (one of which was of the sensational variety).

Matt Mitchell                        6’6”     2017   Roosevelt (Eastvale CA)
Tough and underrated combo-forward plays hard at both ends and has developed a nice blend of scoring skills which should make him an effective player in the Big West at Cal State Fullerton.

Justice Sueing                    6’6”     2017   Mater Dei (Santa Ana CA)
Athletic wing forward has very nice ability to get to hoop off the bounce and slash and finish.  Very underrated rebounder too.  Sueing had 25 points/12 boards in Monarch’s semi-final OT over Bishop Gorman.

Oneyka Okongwu              6’9”     2019   Chino Hills (Chino Hills CA)
Terrific rim-protector was a major factor on the glass in the win over Roosevelt (12 boards and 5 blocks).  Made a few timely face-up jump shots down the stretch as well.

Justin Webster                   6’2”     2019   Prestonwood Christian (Plano TX)
Webster continued his Tark Classic scoring spree on Monday, connecting for 31 points against St. Mary’s/Phoenix AZ.  Webster is averaging 32 points a game at this year’s Tarkanian Classic.

Charles O’Bannon             6’6”     2017   Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas NV)
Bouncy wing scorer has a quick 3-point stroke and the athleticism necessary to beat defenders in transition.


 Mike Wang                           6’9”     2018   Mater Dei (Santa Ana CA)
Skilled stretch forward is an improved rebounder and defender.  Had a solid 14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in a winning effort over Bishop Gorman.

Bryce Hamilton                   6’4”     2018   Pasadena (Pasadena CA)
Talented high-scoring junior combo-guard had 25 points today vs. Camarillo. A year young for his grade, Hamilton is emerging as one of the hottest West Coast prospects in 2018.

Christian Popoola Jr.        6’4”     2017   Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas NV)
Popoola was active and engaged on the offensive end tonight versus Mater Dei – scoring a team-high 24 points.

Elijah Duplechan                5’11”  2017   Sheldon (Sacramento CA)
Crafty PG plays with nice poise and has an accurate shooting touch.  Scored a game-high 18 points versus American Fork/UT.

Corbin Merritt                      6’9”     2017   Godby (Tallahassee FL)
Long athlete runs floor well and is active on the glass.  Merritt had a team-high 16 points in his team’s win over Woods Cross (UT).

Isaac Johnson                    6’10”  2019   American Fork (American Fork UT)
Young post with nice length moves well and has a nice feel for the game.  Utah, BYU, Utah State and Southern Utah have all offered.

Drew Cobb                           6’3”     2017   Sheldon (Sacramento CA)
Strong off-guard is an excellent defender.  Contributed 11 points toward Sheldon’s semi-final win over American Fork/UT.



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