The Montverde Academy Eagles (FL) and Sierra Canyon Trailblazers (CA) squared off earlier this week in one of the top rated high school basketball tournaments in the country— the Hoophall Classic.
ESPNU picked this game up on their network, showing how much hype and star-power this contest had coming in. This was a rematch from the game played on December 22nd in Hawaii where Montverde came out on top 57-49.
Going in to the game, many people figured that the top matchup would be of Top 10 ranked prospect Cade Cunningham versus Top 30 Cassius Stanley… However, there were many more top players on display.
Both teams started off the game struggling to find any rhythm on offense, with two air balls during the first four shots. That quickly changed when Harlond Beverly of Montverde hit three 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the game. Montverde suffocated Sierra Canyon’s ability to drive and get any easy looks, causing them to take deep and contested jumpers. Omar Payne of Montverde (Florida commit) capped off the first quarter with a fast break dunk to take a 22-11 lead.
Cassius Stanley showed that he’s more than just a player who wants to drive and dunk. Stanley will stick his nose in the paint and go up and grab lose rebounds like he did in the second quarter where he grabbed three rebounds.
Even though Sierra Canyon made a run to get it to six points, which would be as close as they got. Beverly checked back in the game and Montverde made another huge push. With Beverly scoring 14 points combined with the way he facilitated for teammates, especially in transition, Montverde headed into the locker room with a 38-23 lead.
Stanley really heated up early in the 3rd quarter and proved to be a tough matchup for anyone who was assigned to guard him. Stanley drilled a three in the face of 6-foot-9 Precious Achiwua to to trim the lead down to 24 points.
The player who really makes the offense go for the Trailblazers is Scotty Pippen Jr., he makes the right play at the right time. He is a coach’s dream, he didn’t score much, but showed his leadership and willingness to never give up despite being down 62-38 in the 3rd quarter.
The lone bright spot in the 4th quarter for Sierra Canyon was K.J. Martin’s monstrous put back dunk. The Trailblazers shot the ball as bad as they have all year. They were ice cold shooting below 36-percent from the field.
One player who really stood out in the second half for the Eagles was 2019 center Balsa Koprivica. He showed his ability to finish at the rim and was very active on the glass. Koprivica had four ally-oop dunks in just the second half alone. Koprivica finished the game with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Sierra Canyon lost this game 77-58. This is only the team’s second loss on the season, and both have come to the defending GEICO National Champions.
One thing I noticed while watching this game was how Cade Cunningham displayed his ability to play the point guard postion. Not many 6-foot-5 players handle the ball and and run the offense as efficiently as he does. Cunningham did everything his team needed. He stuffed the stat sheet, like he usually does, finishing the game with 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Beverly was named the Player of the Game with 22 points on only 12 shots.
Dylan Freeman is the Head of Media Relations and contributor for Mars Reel