Mercer County and Gulf Coast capture divisional titles
By Bob Corwin
Presented by the Florida Gulf Coast Sports Foundation, the 19th annual Naples Holiday Shootout saw Mercer County High School of Harrodsburg, Kentucky, win the American (top) Division and host Gulf Coast High School of Naples, Florida, win the National Division. The event was held at Gulf Coast High School December 28-30 with groupings of eight teams.
College coaches appeared to be passing on December Christmas events at least in Florida
In checking on two other Florida post-Christmas events, Naples did about average with ten colleges attending one of the three days of the event. This was much lower than a couple of years ago when the number was north of 40. One college coach in attendance stated that the combination of earlier start to conference games combined with numerous events to choose from resulted in lower numbers per post-Christmas event in Florida.
Looking at the action from the American and National Divisions Finals…
Mercer County High School (Harrodsburg, Kentucky) 77-73 Westlake High School (Atlanta, Georgia)
Mercer County came in a slight favorite having played a stronger schedule prior to the event, being a slightly more veteran team and having the perceived best player in the game in Seygan Robins. Mercer County got out to a 20-12 lead in the first quarter thanks to five threes by Campbellesville signee Lexy Lake (17 points for the game). Mercer County led 47-29 with 6:17 left in the third. To its credit, Westlake fought back in the later third and fourth quarter hitting more shots while the fast paced Mercer County offense seemed to tire a bit. Westlake hit 10 three’s in the second half, twice closing the gap to five in the last few minutes with senior guard Anastasia Warren accounting for four (19 points for the game). Northern Kentucky signee Emmy Souder contributed 19 for the winners. All-tournament performers Seygan Robins and Taylor Hosendove (both discussed below) led their teams with 28 and 21 points respectively.
Gulf Coast High School (Naples, Florida) 53-51 Ursuline Academy (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Ursuline, much deeper, more athletic and a taller team, came into the game as a clear favorite. Gulf Coast’s biggest trump card was that they were playing in their own gym (sadly not too well attended by their fans that missed an exciting contest). What this game showed was the importance of the role players (here for Gulf Coast) buying into the game plan. Here that was going through their star player Yasmeen Chang (see below) rather than taking a larger portion of the shots as was the case in the semifinal win versus Council Rock North of Pennsylvania.
The game was back and forth with Gulf Coast leading 22-19 after one quarter but Ursuline ahead slightly 31-28 at half and 43-40 after three quarters. Better care of the ball in the final stanza allowed the hosts to nose in front thanks to a Jordan Cloutier (Stetson signee) three in the last two minutes putting her team up 48-46. Gulf Coast point guard Mya Guisto (15 points for the game; orally committed to Tampa) hit five of six foul shots to seal the win. Sophomore post Kiersten Nelson chipped in 15 points for Ursuline which was led by its all-tournament member Kourtney Weber with 22 points while National Division MVP Chang led Gulf Coast with 23 points.
Choosing the Naples Holiday Shootout All-tournament team members
There were 10 total (8 regardless of division plus MVP of each division) picked based on individual performance with team success being a factor.
Below in alphabetical order (with listed height, graduation year and school) is the Naples Holiday Shootout All-Tournament Team.
2017 Naples Holiday Shootout
Yasmeen Chang 5-9, 2019, Gulf Coast High School (Naples, Florida) National Division MVP
Orally committed to Miami, Chang posted 23 points on 9/20 from the field in the final. A slashing wing player, she can hit from behind the arc be it not her primary scoring option. In carrying her team to the title, she earned the National Division MVP.
Ciaja Harbison 5-5, 2018, Louisville Male High School (Louisville, Kentucky)
A St. Louis signee, Harbison does a bit of everything as her team’s lead guard. A 15-point outing helped her team to victory in the third place game.
Destanni Henderson 5-9, 2018, Fort Myers High School (Fort Myers, Florida)
A South Carolina signee, Henderson posted 35 points in a losing effort in her team’s final game at Naples. A combo guard, she can play point but was more off-guard at the event. Considered a strong candidate for this year’s Florida’s Player of the Year, she is an explosive driver who can also hit from behind and inside the arc.
Taylor Hosendove 6-1, 2018, Westlake High School (Atlanta, Georgia)
Signed with Texas Tech, Hosendove is a high motor forward scoring in the key, at mid-range and (not first option) behind the arc. She typifies her team’s refuse to lose attitude. Hosendove posted 21 points in her team’s loss in the championship game and 16 prior to that in the semifinal.
Koi Love 5-11, 2019, Miami Country Day School (Miami, Florida)
Love is continuing to expand her game to be more than a threat in the paint. In scoring 35 points versus Fort Myers, she hit a mid-range jumper to win the game as time expired. She has multiple Power 5 offers in hand.
Julia Martinez 5-10, 2019, Loyola Academy (Wilmette, Illinois)
Martinez is a pass first point guard always looking to set up teammates. With good size and basketball IQ, she has offers from Power 5 schools and down.
Samantha Puisis 6-2, 2019, Mason High School (Mason, Ohio)
Orally committed to Florida State, Puisis is a decent athlete who can shoot the mid-range and three-ball. In her team’s victory over Charles Henderson of High School of Alabama, she posted 31 points including five three balls.
Seygan Robins 5-9, 2018, Mercer County High School (Harrodsburg, Kentucky) American Division MVP
A Louisville signee, Robins earned her MVP status posting multiple 20+ point efforts at the event in leading her team to the American Division title. She hit 12 fourth quarter foul shots (28 points total) to help seal the victory over Westlake. As her team’s point guard, she keeps the ball moving and in spite of scoring prowess, is a willing passer.
Taylor Sutton 5-5, 2018, Greater Atlanta Christian School (Norcross, Georgia)
Signed with Middle Tennessee, Sutton posted double digit scoring in all the of her team’s games at Naples. Although capable of playing the point, she appeared more comfortable playing off the ball both hitting threes and driving to the rim.
Kourtney Weber 5-10, 2018, Ursuline Academy (New Orleans, Louisiana)
A small forward signed with Florida State, Weber combines a physical toughness with the ability to hit perimeter shots inside and behind the arc, seemingly favoring the wing to baseline area. She posted 20+ points in her team’s last (1-1) two games at the event where Ursuline finished second in its division.