South’s perimeter play leads the way in 123-106 win over North

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Thanks to its 11 first-half three-pointers, South held a six-point lead at the intermission of Friday’s North-South All-Star Boys Basketball Classic at South Charleston Community Center.

Scott’s Reece Carden then drained three triples over the first 90 seconds of the second half, while South teammates Cameron Manns of Shady Spring and Eli Robertson of Herbert Hoover each added a three within the first 5:30 of the second half, allowing South to create separation and pull away for a 123-106 victory.

The proficient perimeter shooting was a theme throughout for a South squad that made 11 triples in each half.

“This group was extremely loose from the time we stepped on the floor here and went to eat,” said Zach Green, who recently stepped down as head coach at Logan and split South coaching duties with James Monroe’s Matt Sauvage. “It was almost like they’d played together for a long time and you could see that on the floor. They moved the ball well, played well together and it was an extremely fun way to go out. I had a blast tonight.”

That Logan’s Scottie Browning was South MVP and poured in 19 points only added to the excitement of Green’s night.

“He played extremely well. Scottie and I have a great relationship,” Green said. “He’s been a blast to coach. I tell people all the time the hardest thing for a high school athlete to do is work when no one’s watching and he’s done that from day 1 at Logan High. What a way to go out as MVP of the North-South game. Extremely proud of him and excited for his future.”

Browning hit five of South’s 22 triples, including three over a short stretch of the first half that turned South’s one-point deficit into a 50-45 advantage. Scott’s Reece Carden, who led all players with six threes, connected from the perimeter for an eight-point advantage, and an 11-0 spurt was capped by a layup from Herbert Hoover’s Eli Robertson, who led all players with 21 points.

“We’ve played against each other and even with each other since we were kids,” Browning said. “In the Scott Brown Classic, we played with each other and got to know each other a little bit. Everyone likes each other, there’s good chemistry and that’s why we play so well together.”

A Robertson three marked South’s only points the remainder of the first half, while South Harrison’s Corey Boulden and Bridgeport’s Anthony Spatafore combined for 19 first-half points to help keep the North well within striking distance as it faced a 58-52 halftime deficit.

Carden had the hot hand early in the second half, scoring South’s first nine points on a trio of triples in 1:30. When Robertson followed with a bucket from close range, South led 69-55. 

A pair of treys from Elkins’ Cory Harper to pull within 74-63, before South scored 12 straight, give of which came from Robertson to go with a three from Shady Spring’s Cameron Manns, a layup from Dominic Schmidt of Cabell Midland and a layup from Riverside’s Braydin Ward, who two hours earlier won the dunk contest during the skills competition.

North countered with eight straight points, utilizing a triple each from Harper and Boulden to pull to within 15. North got to within 11 on several occasions, including after consecutive Spatafore layups trimmed South’s advantage to 101-90.

A layup from East Fairmont’s Evan Parr brought North to within 105-94, but Chapmanville’s Sal Dean delivered a knockout blow when he connected from long range.

“Every time we’d get it to 11, they’d hit three threes and get it back to 20,” said Elkins’ Amrit Rayfield, who coached North with South Harrison’s Tom Sears. “They got it rolling and it looked like they’d played together their whole careers, but that’s because they’re good.”

Browning added a leader and two triples not long after, putting to rest any thought of a North rally.

“I’ve spent my whole career with coach Green and couldn’t imagine spending it with somebody else,” Browning said. “Coach Green is one of my favorite coaches of all time and I loved playing for him one last time.”

In addition to Robertson, Browning and Carden, who combined for 14 triples and 58 points, James Monroe’s Eli Allen scored 11 points and Ward, Greenbrier East’s Goose Gabbert and Shady Spring’s Braden Chapman registered double-figure scoring in the win with 10 apiece.

“I told them I expected expected three things out of them and the first was to compete,” Green said. “I’ve never walked into a gym anywhere and not wanted to win and I wanted to win tonight. The second thing is be aware of your surroundings. I told them there’s going to be kids here watching them and make sure we’re sending the right message for those kids, and third have fun. We tied all that in together and they did that all day. 

“They had fun, played hard and competed at a really high level and we carried ourselves with class and confidence. I couldn’t have asked for more out of them.”

Spatafore garnered North MVP honors with 18 points, while Boulden scored 17 and Parr added 15. Harper (12), Morgantown’s Cam Danser (11), Elkins’ Malachi Watson (10) and St. Marys’ Luke Powell (10) were also double-figure scorers in defeat.

“It was a privilege for me to coach in this North-South All-Star game. I think the class of 2023 is one of the more talented groups,” Rayfield said. “There’s a lot of talent in this class.” 

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