HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Mount Vernon's Kevin Jones blocked a shot by Iolani's Pablo Warner last night.
Mount Vernon runs away from host Iolani
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They're ranked No. 2 in the Star-Bulletin Boys Basketball Top 10, but frankly, this year's young Iolani Raiders are still learning on the job.
Last night may have been a turning point. In a 66-55 loss to national power Mount Vernon (N.Y.), the Raiders made a giant leap forward in their own Prep Classic
Iolani struggled against Rice (N.Y.) on Thursday, but showed some coming-of-age signs in the second half last night.
Junior forward Pablo Warner's drives to the basket paid off with 25 points, and coach Mark Mugiishi's "speed team" -- one of his platoon units -- powered the Raiders' impressive second-half rally that fell short.
Mount Vernon coach Bob Cimmino saw his team's 22-point lead wither to nine before the Knights turned back the Raiders in the final 2 minutes.
"I'm glad we got a lead so they couldn't backdoor us to death," he said.
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They did a lot Wright in more ways than one.
The Knights of Mount Vernon, N.Y., rode their big 1-2 punch of Sherrod Wright and Kevin Jones past Iolani 66-55 last night at the Iolani Prep Classic.
Wright, a 6-foot-3 junior, finished with 27 points and nine rebounds. Jones, a 6-7 senior, had 18 points, 10 boards and five blocked shots for the nation's 15th-ranked team.
"We played hard early and Iolani turned it up. We had some turnovers that were uncharacteristic," Knights coach Bob Cimmino said of the home team's second-half run. "Iolani always plays hard. Doc (Raiders coach Mark Mugiishi) always has them ready. I'm glad we got a lead so they couldn't backdoor us to death."
Mount Vernon led by 22 in the third quarter but had to fend off a valiant comeback effort by the host Raiders. Pablo Warner scored 12 of his team-high 25 points in the third quarter to help Iolani stay close.
In the fourth quarter, Iolani went on a 9-0 run to pull within 61-52 with 1:15 to go, but could get no closer. Perhaps more than any previous game, the Raiders showed the most improvement in this game against a bigger, quicker powerhouse.
"We still didn't adjust well to the speed in the first half, but I'm glad we're continuing to improve," Mugiishi said. "I want us to bring that level of intensity from the second half to the first half."
For all that the Knights did right, it was some of the wrongs that Cimmino wants to see corrected.
"(Jones) is supposed to play better than he did. He missed a lot of defensive assignments," he said of the West Virginia-bound forward. "He's going to the Big East, and he has to play with more intelligence."
Mount Vernon had little trouble with the Raiders in the first half. A 17-2 run vaulted the Knights to a comfortable first-quarter lead.
Wright was unstoppable in the second quarter, scoring 10 of his 14 first-half points. He also had six rebounds and two blocks before the break.
Jones, a 6-foot-7 senior, was a beast on the low post. He had 12 points, six rebounds and four blocks before intermission.
A smothering man-to-man defense kept a lid on Iolani's sharpshooters. The Raiders shot 6-for-26 from the field (23 percent) in the first half.
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Mount Vernon's Sherrod Wright took a shot over Iolani's Kela Marciel in the second half last night.
LeFlore (Ala.) 71, Westchester (Calif.) 59
Demarcus Cousins scored 23 points and Nick Williams had 21, including four 3-pointers, for the Rattlers. Dominique O'Connor scored 14 points and Dwayne Polee added 12 for the Comets.
The pairing was arguably the best matchup of the tourney. Westchester had knocked off Montrose Christian, ranked No. 6 nationally, on Thursday. LeFlore remained unbeaten in the tourney after three games.
LeFlore, the defending Iolani champion, entered the tournament ranked No. 14 by USA Today. The game was close until the third quarter, when the Rattlers went on a 24-9 run.
Montrose Christian (Md.) 39, Arlington Country Day (Fla.) 32
Kevon Moore scored 13 points and Terrell Vinson added nine for the Mustangs. Emari Bailey led ACD with 10 points.
ACD started out flat, but rallied behind Bailey to close the gap. Down 26-22 with 3 minutes left in the third quarter, the Apaches pulled the ball out and held it, a move coach Rex Morgan used extensively the day before against LeFlore.
Bailey wound up with an off-balance miss, and the Mustangs pushed the ball up court for a 25-foot 3-pointer by Moore at the buzzer for a 29-22 lead. ACD got no closer than six the rest of the way.
Rice (N.Y.) 59, Mason County (Ky.) 48
A battle between titans from New York City and Kentucky went to the Big Apple hoopsters thanks to clutch free-throw shooting. The Raiders, ranked No. 10 in the USA Today Super 25, broke a 47-all tie with a 12-1 run in the final 2 minutes. They benefited from key turnovers by Mason and hit eight foul shots in a row.
Guard Kemba Walker led Rice with 21 points and nine rebounds, including 8-for-8 accuracy from the line in the final quarter. Durand Scott chipped in with 12 points and eight caroms.
Russ Middleton and Trevor Setty paced Mason County, the top-ranked team in Kentucky, with 15 points apiece. Ethan King added 10 points, and Darius Miller had seven rebounds and three blocks.