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Ayton, Hillcrest win John Wall Holiday Invitational

RANDY SMITH
Guardian Sports Reporter
randy@nasguard.com

Published: Jan 03, 2017

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The ESPN No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2017, DeAndre Ayton, stood head and shoulders above some elite competition this past weekend at the John Wall Holiday Invitational.

Ayton scored 30 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the title game, leading the Hillcrest Prep Academy Bruins to a 77-60 win over the Tampa Catholic Crusaders. For his effort, Ayton was named as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament.

“To get a win like this is big for our team,” Ayton said.

The win over the Crusaders was impressive seeing that they featured the No. 7 overall prospect in the United States, Kevin Knox.

“Playing against Kevin was fun, but we just had to buckle down and play hard,” Ayton said. “I knew that if we did that we could get it done.”

Knox, who scored 22 points and grabbed five rebounds, was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. Josh Green had 19 points in the win for Hillcrest, and Tai Strickland put up 17 for Tampa Catholic.

Ayton immediately took advantage of his advantage in the post, scoring a pair of quick baskets in the paint over the 6’8” Knox. Despite his ability to challenge shots without fouling, Knox still picked up his second foul midway through the second quarter and was forced to sit on the bench after scoring just one point in the half.

With Knox on the bench, Strickland carried the Crusaders offensively, scoring 14 points, including 3-for-4 shooting from three-point range.

Ayton had 15 points and six rebounds, but Hillcrest turned the ball over 11 times, which helped Tampa Catholic to keep things tied at 29 at the half.

The Bruins took over in the third quarter behind their defense. They forced the Crusaders to commit five turnovers that they turned into 10 fast break points and opening up their lead to as many as 14.

The Bruins led by as much as 20 in the fourth quarter on the strength of a number of buckets by Ayton.

Hillcrest’s win over the Crusaders was a good bounce-back win, after they fell 53-42 to highly ranked prospect Mo Bamba and the Westtown School, out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ayton played all 32 minutes and was his team’s leading scorer with 13 points in that game. However, he shot just 4-for-17 from the field.

 


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