Florida Prospects (part 1): Miami Country Day wins a big one
By Bob Corwin
The 6th Annual Florida Prospects Thanksgiving Invitational presented by Florida Prospects Recruiting saw 18 Florida high school teams do battle on November 25 and 26 at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Florida. The event was attended by a sprinkling of NCAA Division 1 colleges (many were playing) of different levels with probably as many Florida-based junior colleges and a few four-year schools below the Division 1 level also present. Competition took place in a pre-set classic format with most schools playing on both days.
In part 1, the featured match-up of nationally ranked teams will be discussed. In part 2, a number of the talented players from the many other contests will be reviewed.
Feature match-up of the event
Miami Country Day (MCD) 58-53 Jacksonville Ribault
This has been a (if not the) marquee game in the Sunshine State the last two years with the winner being selected to play in the Dick’s Sporting Goods national event in New York in April. In 2015, MCD won that event and Ribault similarly got the job done this past spring.
The match was billed as a duel between Country Day’s perimeter (considered to be one of the best in the country) and Ribault’s two Power 5 forwards. Both teams came into the event as a top 25 pre-season ranked team by three different polls (Blue Star Media, MaxPreps and USA Today). Media people were split on who was the favorite in this once a year (different post-season classes with MCD a 4A and Ribault a 6A [9A is biggest schools]).
Credit both programs for playing this game as in many states a private school like Country Day would never meet a city school like Ribault. Ironically 3 (2 & 1) players from each team play together in the club season (four for Nike EYBL-based Essence and two for independent FGB, two rival club teams that never meet on the court but sometimes bump heads recruiting players).
Ribault led 12-10 after one quarter but thereafter MCD controlled the game by a slight margin leading at half 28-20 and 43-36 after three quarters. The closest Ribault got down the stretch was three points. Key to success for Country Day was the ability to withstand Ribault pressure defense in the half court and convert lay-ups sufficiently when beating pressure plus hit some momentum braking threes stopping Ribault runs.
Stars of the game:
#1 star Channise Lewis (5-8, senior point guard, MCD, committed to Illinois) more than not withstood the pressure scoring 13 points as well.
#2 star Maria Alvarez (5-7, sophomore guard, MCD) led MCD in scoring with 14 points including four threes. Maria is a future Division 1 combo guard who can play point but rarely has with Lewis as her teammate.
#3 star Dayneshia Banks (5-10, senior forward, Ribault, committed to Ole Miss) posted a team leading 14 points with steady play in and out of the paint.
Others of note
Rennia Davis (6-1, senior small forward, Ribault, committed to Tennessee) is justifiably considered one of the top players in the nation but did not score in the first half ending with 13 points. On Saturday, she cut lose for 30 in a win versus Orlando Lake Highland Prep.
Kelsey Marshall (5-9, senior shooting guard, MCD, committed to Miami of Florida) posted 10 points in this contest primarily driving. In Saturday’s 69-44 win versus Orlando Jones, she shot the ball better from the perimeter posting 19 points.
Aaysia Berry (6-1, junior center, MCD) posted 11 points finishing at the rim. She has improved some over last year and will need to be a factor in the middle given Country Day’s difficult schedule.