Upset-apalooza: No. 5 Lions ousted; No. 17 Gaels routed

You know the Beach Ball Classic is one of the best high school basketball tournaments in the country when the No. 17 team in the nation is in the consolation bracket.

You know it’s THE BEST high school basketball tournament in the country when the No. 5 team in the nation suffers back-to-back losses and gets eliminated from the tournament before the final day.

Both of those unlikely scenarios happened Friday at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, with unranked Milton (Ga.) blowing out No. 17 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) 77-56 in the semifinals shortly after No. 31 St. Augustine (La.) eliminated No. 5 Prestonwood Christian (Texas) in a consolation bracket game.

The 31st edition of the Beach Ball Classic is proving why it is called the “The Nation’s Finest Holiday Hoops Tournament.” No. 5-ranked Prestonwood Christian Academy found out for the second day in a row that you can not take a day off at the BBC.

The Lions, who entered the tournament with a No. 5 ranking in ESPN Rise’s Fab 50 poll after winning the City of Palms Classic, fell to St. Augustine 70-57 to be bounced from the tourney with a 1-2 record. They lost to Whitney Young (Chicago) 46-44 on a buzzer beater on Thursday.

St. Augustine (19-2; New Orleans, LA) trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half before making a run in the second half and taking control of the contest.

Trailing 12-11 with 9:45 to play in the opening half, Prestonwood (11-3; Plano, TX) scored 16 unanswered points to open a 27-12 advantage with 5:02 on the clock.  The Purple Knights closed the gap to 36-26 by the half and slowly chipped away at the lead at the beginning of the second half.

St. Augustine took the lead for good on a jumper by Roland Daniels that gave the Purple Knights a 54-53 lead with 6:01 to play.  Daniels’ basket started a 16-3 run by St. Augustine that put the game out of reach.

The duo of Daniels and Javan Felix led St. Augustine as they poured in 26 and 23 points, respectively.  Prestonwood’s Julius Randle posted a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds.

As for the first semifinal, Milton scored early and often in route to an impressive 77-56 victory over Bishop Gorman and the nation’s top rated player in Shabazz Muhammad.  The win put the Eagles into the championship game against Lone Peak (Utah).

It was all Milton (8-4; Milton, GA) from the opening tip as Evan Nolte rained home a 3-pointer just 20 seconds into play.  That was just one of Nolte’s five treys in the opening 16-minute half as the Eagles hit 7-of-10 from behind the arc and an amazing 14-of-22 from the field (63.6%).

While Milton was building leads as large as 23 points in the first half, Bishop Gorman (6-3; New Orleans, LA) did hit half of its 16 shots from the field in the first half but connected on just one 3-pointer.  Also contributing to the defecit for the Gaels was nine turnovers as Milton posted a 19- advantage in points off turnovers in the opening half.

The second half saw both teams play evenly as Milton controlled the pace and continued to light up the nets at a 60.9 percent success rate from the field.

Milton’s Nolte led the Eagles with 20 points, while Shaquille Johnson and Charles Mann added 18 points each.

Photo by Digital Magic Photo

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