Ram Classic: Point spread keeps Tampa Prep out of final
NEW PORT RICHEY – With a new high of 12 teams in the Ram Classic basketball tournament, host Ridgewood had to come up with an unconventional method for determining the finalists. It left open the possibility for, say, the best team in the field to win its first two games and still get shut out.
Sure enough, it happened. Tampa Prep, one of the bay area’s best and now 11-1 after defeating Clearwater Central Catholic 44-42 Thursday, will have to settle for a third-place meeting with Mitchell. Since there were three winner’s bracket games but only room for two teams in the championship, the spots went to the pair with the better margins of victory.
One goes to a real surprise. King entered the tourney with a sub-.500 record but rallied from 13 down to knock out the hosts 58-52 in the nightcap. The Lions (6-5) will take on Anclote (8-5), which had the most comfortable victory, 63-51 over Springstead.
As the highest ranked teams in the field, Tampa Prep and Clearwater Central Catholic were hard pressed to produce a blowout and indeed it went to the wire. Tampa Prep senior Amari Goulbourne’s free throws with 3.4 seconds left, after Victor Collazo had tied the score with 15 seconds left for CCC, were the difference. Goulbourne scored 12 of his team-high 14 points in the second half. Trey Sibert added nine points for Tampa Prep.
CCC (9-2) had the biggest lead, at 23-14 after going on a quick 6-0 run capped by back-to-back fast break layups from Noah Ignacio and Andrew Cavanaugh. It was 24-18 at halftime but Tampa Prep, with Christin Schach hitting a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter, drew even by the end of the period.
Six-foot-5 sophomore Jaren Phillips’ thunderous dunk had the Terps up 33-31 but Ignacio led CCC back with a go-ahead 3 and layup for a 40-36 advantage with three minutes remaining. Goulbourne answered immediately and his jumpshot tied it with two minutes left. A pair of Isaac Ward free throws put Prep back ahead, but after he stole the ball Tampa Prep faltered at the line, and Collazo came up with the tying bucket.
Ignacio scored 13 points, and Cavanaugh 10 for CCC (9-2).
Needing the last game to be a one-point margin, it actually looked like Tampa Prep might get its wish. Ridgewood (9-4) fast-breaked its way to a 23-10 lead through one quarter, and was up 11 in the third when King’s Ethan Thomas got hot. Thomas hit a pair of 3-pointers late in the third to make it 43-41, and King took a one-point lead with 3:27 remaining, only for Ridgewood to answer.
Another Thomas 3 – he made five, scoring 18 – put the Lions up 52-50 then Ridgewood lost its cool, committing a technical foul. Thomas’ final 3 put the score to 55-48. Sophomore Chris Romkey scored nine points and Edgar Ziegler added eight.
For Ridgewood Ty Quiroz hit for 14 while Will Dawson and Giovanni Charles added 10 each.
Anclote (8-5) led by as many as 19 against Springstead (7-4). Six-foot-6 freshman Jakob Hester had 12 points as the Sharks were up 31-18 at the break and added eight more in the third quarter, totaling 22. Marquez Cooper, who averages 25 points a game, scored 16 and had four assists along with fellow guards Reynaldo Gonzalez and Deandre Hopkins. Springstead’s leading scorers both came off the bench: Robert Gomez (12) and Sincere Torain (9).
Mitchell earned a spot in the third-place game as it had the highest margin of victory in the three loser's bracket games, 67-42 over Wesley Chapel.