Day two at the return of Slam Dunk to the Beach is in the books. Sunday’s second session started with an upset, as Sunrise Christian (KS) edged USA Today’s No. 23 team in the nation, Christ The King (NY), 66-57. St. Vincent-St. Mary then made a strong tournament debut by dispatching Salesianum (DE), 77-58. In the nightcap Gonzaga College (DC) pulled away from Gill St Bernard’s (NJ) in the second half to earn a 70-49 triumph.
The evening began with a matchup of national powers that somehow lived up to the hype. Sunrise Christian led by just two after the first quarter, by three at the half and by only a single point entering the final period. But it was a foul with 1:38 left in the third quarter that went a long way toward deciding the contest’s outcome.
With Christ The King up 35-34 and with momentum on their side, Rawle Alkins, the 35th ranked junior in the country according to ESPN, picked up his fourth foul and had to take a seat. His absence sparked a 19-8 Sunrise Christian run that tilted the game in the Buffaloes’ direction.
“I thought we had the game under control before that [foul],” said Christ The King head coach Joe Arbitello. “Rawle was having a really good game up until that point. Now that takes away a real key part to our team. It was huge obviously.”
Alkins finished the night with a game-high 23 points and three blocks. He also provided the most electric moment of the first two days of Slam Dunk to the Beach with his acrobatic, one-hand jam just before picking up foul number four.
“That was one of the best dunks I’ve ever seen him do right there,” Arbitello said. “He took off from a really far spot. It was wild. I get used to it though. Like I always say, he does stuff like that all the time in practice.”
One thing Alkins did not do much of on Sunday was rebound the ball. A night after he pulled down 18 boards in a victory over Gonzaga College, the junior was held to just three rebounds–none of which came on the offensive end. It was a fact that did not go unnoticed by Sunrise Christian head coach Kyle Lindsted.
“We knew they were athletic, and we knew we had to keep them off the glass,” Lindsted said. “I think Alkins got zero offensive boards and that was huge for us. More than anything, that’s what we wanted to do, keep him from beating us on the glass. I am really proud of our kids for doing that.”
As a team, Sunrise Christian finished the night plus-16 on the glass. Radshad Davis led the way with 13 rebounds and he also added 11 points. Dainan Swoope paced the Sunrise Christian offense with 16 points, while C.J. Keyser chipped in with 11 points and seven boards.
In game two, Villanova commit Donte DiVincenzo did his best to keep defending Delaware state champion Salesianum in the game. The senior scored Sallies’ first nine points of the game and finished
with a game-high 28. It was a solid bounce back performance for DiVincenzo, who had missed 14 of his 17 shots from the floor in Saturday’s loss to Sanford.
“Donte was phenomenal tonight,” said Salesianum head coach Brendan Haley. “He did every single thing we asked of him, and especially the competing part. He competed every play at both ends, which is what you want your leader to do.”
But St. Vincent-St. Mary had too much firepower. In their first game of the tournament the Fighting Irish got superb nights from Jibri Blount and Josh Williams. Blount had 22 points and five rebounds while Williams added 21 points and four assists.
“Well those are my two seniors,” said St. Vincent-St. Mary head coach Dru Joyce. “They’re senior leaders, and they did what they’re supposed to do. Josh has been great all season long. He’s led verbally and by example, and he’s a Division One player. He made shots. He kept us calm and then he took the tough defensive assignment to guard their best player [DeVincenzo].
“Jabree realized that he had some mismatches and he exploited them. Good players should do that. When you’ve got someone who really can’t guard you in certain situations, you’ve got to attack, and that’s what he did.”
As a team, St. Vincent-St. Mary shot a scorching 54 percent from the field, which allowed them to win going away despite finishing the night minus-13 in rebounding margin.
The nightcap saw Gonzaga wear Gill St. Bernard’s down in a game that turned into a laugher in the second half.
Gonzaga controlled the early portion of the contest, drawing five fouls on Gill St. Berndard’s in the contest’s first three minutes. The Eagles led by as many as nine points in the opening quarter and held a 17-12 advantage after eight minutes.
Despite playing without Tyus Battle, ESPN’s 14th-ranked junior in the country, Gil St. Bernard’s responded with a 10-0 run in the second quarter to take its first lead of the game, 25-24.
Gonzaga grabbed momentum back with two quick buckets and held a slim 28-27 edge at intermission. That carried over into the third quarter, which saw the Eagles explode for 23 points and open up a 13-point lead. The advantage swelled to as large as 23 in the fourth quarter as Gonzaga cruised down the stretch.
“Well, it was a three-minute spurt in the second quarter where the guys got off script,” said Gonzaga head coach Steve Turner. “They were trying to do things their own way as opposed to doing what we do as a team. Once they reeled back in and got back on script, you saw how we can play and what can happen. It was a pretty impressive second half.”
Gonzaga got 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting from Dayton commit Sam Miller. Meanwhile, Bryant Crawford, the 16th-ranked point guard in the class of 2015 by ESPN, flirted with a triple double. The Wake Forest commit notched nine points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Slam Dunk to the Beach continues on Monday with six more games over a pair of sessions. The action gets underway at 12 p.m., as nationally ranked Christ The King (NY) looks to bounce back against Sanford (DE). It continues at 1:30 p.m. when The Haverford School (PA) gets a shot at USA Today’s No.
17 team in the nation, Our Savior New American (NY). Session one concludes at 3 p.m. with a First State fight between Caesar Rodney and Salesianum.
THEY SAID IT:
Sunrise Head Coach Kyle Lindsted
“We knew they were athletic, and we knew we had to keep them off the glass. I think Alkins got zero offensive boards and that was huge for us. More than anything, that’s what we wanted to do, keep him from beating us on the glass. I am really proud of our kids for doing that.”
“Oh man, that was fun to be involved with, and kind of the reason you spend all the long hours watching film, yelling at kids, and trying to get kids to pass their classes. That’s the reason everybody works so hard–games like that.”
“Christ the King is great. I mean what a talent Rawle [Alkins] is, and you know, Joe [Arbitello] does a tremendous job with those guys. I mean he’s a first class guy. I’m very impressed with those guys and that program. It’s a big win for our program, and it’s a big name here on the east coast, and when you’re in Kansas you got to knock those off when you get a shot, so that’s what we did tonight and I was proud of those guys.”
Christ The King Head Coach Joe Arbitello
“I thought we had the game under control before that [foul]. Rawle [Alkins] was having a really good game up until that point. Now that takes away a real key part to our team. It was huge obviously.”
“You know, that’s why we’re good because we’ve got a lot of good basketball players on this team, not just one. I have good guys on the floor. If you took Rawle off this team, and you gave me everybody but Rawle, we would win a lot of games with that team too, so you just control the things that you can control, and there is no blame on anybody. It is part of the game of basketball.”
St. Vincent-St. Mary Head Coach Dru Joyce
“Well those are my two seniors,” said St. Vincent-St. Mary head coach Dru Joyce. They’re senior leaders, and they did what they’re supposed to do. Josh has been great all season long. He’s led verbally and by example, and he’s a Division One player. He made shots. He kept us calm and then he took the tough defensive assignment to guard their best player [DeVincenzo].
“Jabree realized that he had some mismatches and he exploited them. Good players should do that. When you’ve got someone who really can’t guard you in certain situations, you’ve got to attack and that’s what he did.”
“You know, I thought we had to adjust. The game was called real tight, so it kind of took some of our aggressiveness away early in the game, but I thought we made the adjustment in the second half.”
” You know the young man, Donte [DeVincenzo], is a very talented player, so it was hard to keep the ball out of his hands. They did a lot of good things to get it to him, but we were pleased with our defense and overall with the win honestly.”
Salesianum Head Coach Brendan Haley
“Donte [DeVincenzo], was phenomenal tonight. He did every single thing we asked of him, and especially the competing part. He competed every play at both ends, which is what you want your leader to do.”
Gill St. Bernard Head Coach Mergin Sina
“We were missing out on helps, on the screens, and we were just telling them we have to collapse a little bit, and protect the lane. But with this being a very good team, and with us playing two days in a row– I think we learned you’ve got to stay concentrated for four quarters. Yesterday, we fell short one quarter and we lost, and today it was more than that, and we just can’t recover from that issue.”
Gonzaga College Head Coach Steve Turner
“Well, it was a three-minute spurt in the second quarter where the guys got off script. They were trying to do things their own way as opposed to doing what we do as a team. Once they reeled back in and got back on script, you saw how we can play and what can happen. It was a pretty impressive second half.”
“We had a rough season last year, and we’re trying to bounce back from that. We don’t have any guys who have won, and when I say won, I mean won championships here at Gonzaga. That’s something that we are used to doing here. So now we’re trying to learn how to win as a group, and even our leaders have had setbacks. We’ve had a couple injuries different years. We’re now trying to teach them how to win together. They are used to winning in AAU, being the man and the guy, and now they’re going to have to put some of the things that you like in the background and sacrifice to make the team better. As they learn that and do that, we are going to be a pretty good team.”