High School Sports

Point guards steal the show as Holiday Invitational Basketball Tournament opens

Millbrook's Chris Clemons (3) drives to the basket against Garner's Nick Kuhns (20) during the Holiday Invitational Tournament at Holliday Gymnasium in Raleigh. Clemons scored 36 points, making six 3-point baskets and leading Millbrook to an 87-71 victory over Garner.
Millbrook's Chris Clemons (3) drives to the basket against Garner's Nick Kuhns (20) during the Holiday Invitational Tournament at Holliday Gymnasium in Raleigh. Clemons scored 36 points, making six 3-point baskets and leading Millbrook to an 87-71 victory over Garner. rwillett@newsobserver.com

Point guards – one a sub-6-footer – were the story in Friday’s opening round of the 43rd Holiday Invitational Basketball Tournament at Broughton High’s gym, although the gawkers will turn out over the next three days to see 7-foot-1 Thon Maker.

The big man from Sudan by way of Australia and now Canada’s Orangeville Prep is at the center of a Kentucky-Louisville-Duke-Indiana recruiting battle. He plays his opener in the John Wall Bracket at 6:50 p.m. Saturday against Virginia Episcopal.

In Friday’s Summit Bracket games, unbeaten Millbrook (11-0), the area’s top-ranked team, won 87-71 over No. 2 Garner (9-1), while No. 3 Broughton (9-1) earned a 74-65 victory over No. 7 Knightdale (7-2). Three-time defending 2A state champion Kinston defeated unranked Leesville Road 84-61 as come-and-go crowds kept the 2,400-seat gym filled for the first three Summit contests.

Millbrook’s 5-10 Chris Clemons, who is bound for Campbell, led the Wildcats with 36 points and six assists. Robert Brown, a 6-9 senior, added 17 to become Millbrook’s fourth player with 1,000 career points (1,013).

“Chris brings energy to the team,” Brown said. “He’s full of energy, and he’s an unselfish team leader.”

Broughton’s 6-4 Jerome Robinson, who is committed to Boston College, scored 26 points and Roy McMillan added 15.

“Jerome has gotten better every year,” Broughton coach Jeff Ferrell said. “Jerome has more room for improvement, and I think it will happen this year as well into the future.”

Millbrook, playing before a standing-room-only crowd, survived its second No. 2-ranked team in a week. Millbrook was at home when the Wildcats held off then-No. 2 Broughton 72-67 in a Cap Eight 4A Conference showdown.

Millbrook only led Garner 19-18 after the first quarter, but the Wildcats began the second with an 18-4 run and third with a 13-4 run.

“No. 3 (Clemons) is outstanding,” Garner coach Eddie Gray said. “We tried all kinds of things on him; we trapped him and I think we ended up using four different people on him.”

Garner’s Thomas Allen scored 17 points and Jashaun Smith 15.

Millbrook faces Kinston at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in the semifinals. Kinston defeated Leesville Road 84-61 behind a double-double of 27 points and 12 rebounds from Brandon Ingram.

ESPN ranks Ingram, a 6-8, 180-pound small forward, the No. 12 prospect in the nation. Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas and UCLA are his finalists.

Leesville Road’s Jonathan Mebane scored 29 points.

Broughton’s Summit semi is at 1:50 pm Saturday against the winner of the Apex-Brighton (Utah) contest that was the late game. The Caps will have to win before they can think about a chance to play in the final and keep the title at home as the host school.

“You go up and down the East Coast and everybody knows about the holiday tournament,” Robinson said. “To win this will be great.”

John Wall Bracket

In the John Wall Bracket’s only first-round game Friday, Trinity Christian defeated Ravenscroft 84-61. Dennis Smith Jr. led Trinity with 23 points and junior Deshaun Leftwhich added 18.

For Ravenscroft, David Reynolds scored 14 and Ian Dubose 13.

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