The opening session of the closing day in the return of Slam Dunk to the Beach is in the books. The daytime action on Monday began with Christ The King (NY) beating Sanford (DE), 65-55, then continued when nationally-ranked Our Savior New American (NY) edged The Haverford School (PA), 59-54, and wrapped up with Salesianum outlasting Caesar Rodney (DE) 67-52.
Rawle Alkins turned in another stellar performance for Christ The King in the first game. The 35th-ranked player in the class of 2016 had 14 points in the second quarter alone, on his way to a game-high 23. He also added 16 rebounds, bringing his three-game total at Slam Dunk to the Beach to 37 boards.
“[Alkins] is a man,” said Sanford head coach Stan Waterman. “He’s gifted athletically but he’s also got a nice demeanor about him. I love the way he plays, strong enough that he can play any spot on the floor that he wants to, and he can pretty much get any shot that he wants to. That’s a real compliment to any player at any level. He’s focused, he competes, but he’s a sportsman. It was just fun to watch him play this weekend.”
Alkins’ own coach obviously knew all of this before Christ The King arrived in Lewes, but he still cannot help but marvel at his star’s many gifts.
“That’s the beauty of [Alkins],” Joe Arbitello said. “Too many ranked guys–and I’ve had a bunch of them–they want to score all the time, and as you can see, he’s very willing to pass the basketball. He’s very willing to let the game come to him, very willing to grab rebounds if that’s what we need him to do, very willing to be the cheerleader on the bench. He is everything that you see. There’s no fake in him. He does everything for our team, and he’s a great kid.”
Christ The King also got 10 points and five assists from Jose Alvardo, before the point guard departed with a leg injury in the third quarter. Jared Rivers added 12 points and three dimes for the 23rd-ranked Royals.
Sanford, who trailed by as many as 22 in the second half, pulled to within 10 thanks to 17 points and eight rebounds from Mikey Dixon. Eric Ayala chipped in with 16 points and four steals for the Warriors.
Game two was a back-and-forth affair throughout. The lead changed hands nine times over the first three periods, as The Haverford School battled its second consecutive nationally ranked foe.
The Fords grabbed their largest lead of the game at 34-30, midway through the third quarter, but an injury to freshman phenom Cameron Reddish—at the 3:34 mark of that period–severely hampered Haverford’s cause. Prior to getting hurt, Reddish had poured in 11 points and had grabbed four rebounds. He returned in the fourth quarter, but could not add to either of those totals.
“It just changed our approach offensively,” said Haverford head coach Henry Fairfax. “Now we were down a ball handler and a shooter, and we had to try and piece together some things. We have three guys that are really, really talented and we have a few guys that play super hard for us, and so when you lose one of those talented guys, I think the opposing coach knows how to attack that and say ‘here’s our adjustment.’ So you have to adjust to the adjustments, but I feel like if we could’ve played for four quarters, 32 minutes with all our guys, it could have been perhaps a different outcome.”
Our Savior New American took immediate advantage, unloading an 11-2 spurt that put the Pioneers ahead to stay.
Cheick Diallo, the No. 7 senior in the country according to ESPN, turned in a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Diallo, who has offers from Pittsburgh, Kansas, Kentucky and Iowa State among many others, added four blocks on the defensive end. Davon Dillard was the leading scorer for 17th-ranked Our Savior New American with 20 points. Damon Willson contributed 16 points and six assists to the cause.
Haverford got 22 points and 10 rebounds from Lamar Stevens and 21 points from Shawn Alston. Stevens has offers from Villanova, Indiana and Temple, while Alston has already committed to Temple.
In the nightcap, defending state champion Salesianum smothered Caesar Rodney with a 1-3-1 zone that kept the Riders off balance for much of the contest. Sallies held C.R. to just 16 percent shooting in the first half, on their way to a nine-point edge at intermission.
The Riders shot the ball marginally better in the second half, even pulling as close as four points at one stage of the third quarter, but still managed to connect at just a 30 percent clip for the game.
“The 1-3-1 is hard for teams that aren’t used to that,” said Salesianum head coach Brendan Haley. “That took away a lot of what they wanted to do and made us the aggressor. Ultimately, I think it was our length that gives people like C.R. problems.”
Donte DiVincenzo took over down the stretch. The Villanova commit scored 11 of his game-high 20 points in the final period. He added four steals, three assists and two blocked shots. Jaquan Hooks paced Caesar Rodney with 13 points and three dimes.
Slam Dunk to the Beach wraps up on Monday with three games in the event’s sixth and final session.
THEY SAID IT:
Christ The King Head Coach Joe Arbitello
“That’s the beauty of [Alkins]. Too many ranked guys, and I’ve had a bunch of them, they want to score all the time, and as you can see, he’s very willing to pass the basketball. He’s very willing to let the game come to him, very willing to grab rebounds if that’s what we need him to do, very willing to be the cheerleader on the bench. He is everything that you see. There’s no fake in him. He does everything for our team, and he’s a great kid.”
“Rawle knows we need the big guy to win and he can help us, because I know he can be really good, but he’s just getting his feet wet now, and Rawle understands that, more than anything else just getting him a bucket in front of a lot of people made him feel good about himself. Rawle’s basketball IQ is very high in that regard. Very, very high.”
Sanford Head Coach Stan Waterman
“There’s some good competition, its reminiscent of some of the teams that were here many years ago when the tournament was in it’s heyday so its good to see that kind of competition back in this tournament and were happy to be apart of it. It’s going to make us better down the road.”
“Our transition defense is not very good right now. We have to be a lot stronger with the ball, and we have to play a little bit better together, and those are the types of things that I said coming down here, were the things that would be exposed. We found out what they are so we have some work to do.”
“Mikey [Dixon] has played well all weekend on the offensive side of the ball. If I can get him to play half as hard on the defensive side he’d be pretty good. He’s capable, and he’ll be very good once he learns how to play the entire game on both sides of the floor.”
“[Alkins] is a man. I mean, they don’t have any seniors on that team, and you look out there and they all look like grown men but they are only 10th and 11th graders. Alkins is special. He’s gifted athletically but he’s also got a nice demeanor about him. I love the way he plays, strong enough that he can play any spot on the floor that he wants to, and he can pretty much get any shot that he wants to. That’s a real compliment to any player at any level. He’s focused, he competes but he’s a sportsman. It was just fun to watch him play this weekend.”
Haverford Head Coach Henry Fairfax
“I enjoyed the opportunity to compete, and to prepare our guys for playing against the top competition in the country. Slam Dunk to the Beach put on a great event. It’s great to see it back as a fan of basketball, and we’re excited about our improvement on a day-to-day basis. Yesterday I thought we hung in for three quarters. Today I asked my guys to hang in for four quarters and stick with the game plan. They did a phenomenal job with that. You’ve got to just trust in the system, trust in the process. There’s no 10-point plays. We just want to be systematic about our approach to these games and I thought our kids did a phenomenal job of that. I’m not a huge moral victory guy, but if I believed in moral victories, I’d be on a high right now.”
“It just changed our approach offensively. Now we were down a ball handler and a shooter, and we had to try and piece together some things. We have three guys that are really, really talented and we have guys that play super hard for us, and so when you lose one of those guys, I think the opposing coach knows how to attack that and say ‘here’s our adjustment.’ So you have to adjust to the adjustments, but I feel like if we could’ve played for four quarters, 32 minutes with all our guys, it could have been perhaps a different outcome.”
“You know what, (Reddish) is walking around okay, he’s a tough kid. We have a great training staff back in Philly and we have a game tomorrow against Archbishop Carroll, so perhaps he’s not ready to go tomorrow but we start our league next Saturday and that’s the most important thing. We just want to be at full strength when that happens.”
Salesianum Head Coach Brendan Haley
“The 1-3-1 is hard for teams that aren’t used to that, That took away a lot of what they wanted to do and made us the aggressor. Ultimately I think it was our length that gives people like C.R. problems.”
“I thought we’ve done some good things, but we’ve also earned that 1-4 record because we played some not-so-good basketball at times. But we’ve also done some good things and had a tough schedule, so sometimes the kids need to see that [win] go on the left side of the ledger. It makes everybody feel a little bit better and so forth, but like I said in some ways we did a lot of things better last night, but lost. We were just so deep and CR is young, it’s going to take them some time, so we kind of took advantage of our length and our experience and were able to get the victory. It’s nice to be on the good side of it.”
Caesar Rodney Head Coach Freeman Williams
“I think we have to learn how to finish plays and learn how to polish our offensive execution, and defensively we aren’t where we need to be. But the positive, though, is that we had an opportunity to play against two good teams, against good players, got some
good experience, and so this is what I was looking for. It was an opportunity to be challenged early in the season so we can know what we have to work on and know what we have to fix, because we are going to work and we are going to get better, no doubt about it.”