NORTH BETHESDA, Md. – Montverde (Fla.) reserve point guard Jalyn Patterson is never one of the first names you’ll see when reading a list of the Eagles' top players. He’s not the focal point of the opposing team’s defensive strategy and, with two McDonald’s All Americans on the roster, he’s almost never the player whose number will be called when the game is on the line.
After St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark, N.J.) point guard Tyler Ennis knocked down a three-pointer from the right corner to give the Gray Bees a one-point lead with 11 seconds left in regulation of the ESPN National High School Invitational title game, Eagles point guard Kasey Hill raced down the court and caught eyes with Patterson, who was on the right wing.
“I saw him look at me,” Patterson said. “Then he looked away from me so he wouldn’t give it away that he was gonna pass to me. I knew it was coming. I knew I would make it. I just knew.”
He was right.
Patterson drained the three-pointer to help Montverde, ranked No. 2 in the USA Today HSS Super 25, steal the 67-65 win over No. 4 St. Benedict’s Prep and claim its first-ever NHSI title Saturday at Georgetown Prep.
Dakari Johnson, who was named MVP of the NHSI, scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and Hill added 19 points, six rebounds and five assists in the win.
It was the second day in a row Patterson came up with a big play in the final seconds.
In Friday’s semifinal win over Prime Prep (Dallas), Patterson stripped Prime Prep point guard Emmanuel Mudiay’s three-point attempt to save the win as time expired.
“I just try and do whatever I can to help my team win,” Patterson said. “Whatever that is, I’m gonna do it.”
Montverde coach Kevin Boyle said he had a talk with Patterson a month ago about rededicating himself to getting better.
“He’s been in the gym ever since working on his shot,” Boyle said. “When it left his hand I knew it was gonna go in the whole time. It’s the perfect momentum for him headed into AAU and next season. I’m happy for him. He deserved to have this moment.”
Third time's the charm for Boyle
When Montverde lined up for its team photo after its NHSI 67-65 championship defeat of St. Benedict's Prep (Newark), junior guard Brendan Boyle had to squint to see through tears. As the son of coach Kevin Boyle, he knows how close his dad has come to having the top team in the country.
Last year, Montverde lost 86-83 to Findlay Prep in the finals of the NHSI to Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) after leading by 18 points. Two years ago, Boyle was coaching then-No. 1 St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) when it led No. 2 St. Anthony by six points in the state North Non-Public B championship. St. Anthony came back and won the game 62-45 and finished the season with the top ranking.
This time, Boyle's team pulled off the comeback. After trailing by 16 points just before halftime, the Eagles battled back and outscored St. Benedict's 26-16 in the fourth quarter. Montverde came into the tournament the No. 2 team in the Super 25 rankings, but with No. 1 Findlay losing to St. Benedict's Prep in the tournament, Montverde will be the top team when the Super 25 rankings come out next week.
"We've been second a number of times," Kevin Boyle said. "I think Brendan was tearing up because he's been a part of it and there has been a little frustration. There's happiness for the team and the years of frustration where you're so close and just not there. My son Kevin (filming a documentary) on our team was able to help with practice. It's really a family victory."
Having been there before, Boyle was wary of overcoaching at the wrong time and he trusted point guard Kasey Hill's instincts. After St. Benedict's guard Tyler Ennis hit a three-pointer to put the Gray Bees up 65-64 with 10 seconds left, Hill pushed the ball up court, drawing three defenders. He flipped a pass to Jalyn Patterson, standing on the right wing, and Patterson nailed a three-pointer to win it as time expired.
"I decided with Kasey's speed not to call a timeout where they could change defenses," Boyle said. "He was going so hard to the basket, it would be hard not to foul him. Kasey made the right play. Jalyn is a a pretty good shooter. He has been staying after practice in the gym every day shooting. I could tell when it left his hand that it was going in."
Ironically, one of the St. Benedict's Prep top players, Johnathan Williams, had played for St. Patrick and Boyle when the Celtics lost to St. Anthony two years ago. A junior guard, Williams said he plans to sign with Virginia Commonwealth.
"It was real hard (after the St. Anthony's) loss," Williams said. "People were crying with a lot of emotion. I cried too then and when we lost today. I'm a person that hates to lose so I'm not going to look at that as a great game. I'll look at it like we have to come back next year and win. I want to play them in the championship next year."
Ennis OK physically, hurt mentally
With 2:28 left in the first half of the NHSI title game, St. Benedict’s Prep point guard Tyler Ennis drew contact on the right sideline from a Montverde defender and went barreling to the ground, slightly dislocating his right shoulder in the process.
Ennis originally dislocated his shoulder two weeks ago in practice and was “a little worried about it coming into the tournament.”
“When he hit my shoulder it brought all of that pain back,” Ennis said. “I sat the rest of the half and iced it at halftime. It felt better, but it was never 100 percent.”
Despite the injury, Ennis scored 15 points, including a corner three-pointer to give the Gray Bees the one-point lead with 11 seconds left in regulation. He also added six rebounds and dished out five assists in the loss.
“I knew that I would make that three when I took it,” said Ennis, a Syracuse signee who was named to the All-Tournament team. “It’s a play that we run all the time so we knew what to do. I told them I’d make the shot. I thought we had the game when I made that one, but the guy (Jalyn Patterson) made that clutch three. You’ve gotta give him credit, it was a great shot. It’s tough. Now my shoulder is fine, but this loss hurt me. It’s crazy.”
Dr. Phillips celebrates its NHSI title. / Randy Sager
McCaskill powers Panthers to title
Back in November when Dr. Phillips (Orlando) point guard Sydnei McCaskill learned that her backcourt mate Taryn Griffey would be sidelined all season with a torn ACL, McCaskill went into “brief shock.”
McCaskill and Griffey, the daughter of former MLB great Ken Griffey Jr., have played together on school and AAU teams since they were 10.
“I couldn’t believe that,” McCaskill said of playing without Griffey. “I mean I knew it would be so much different without her on the floor. But, after a while, I knew we’d have to deal with it. We’d have to move on.”
Days later, McCaskill called a team meeting and talked to her teammates about stepping up this season in Griffey’s, who averaged 16 points per game the prior season, absence.
“Everyone would have to do their part,” McCaskill said.
McCaskill certainly did hers in Saturday’s NHSI title game, scoring 15 points and dishing out four assists to help the Panthers capture their second title in three years with a 62-45 win over Archbishop Spalding (Severn, Md.).
“She’s been our catalyst all year,” Dr. Phillips coach Anthony Jones said. “She’s really made us go.”
McCaskill, a Georgia signee who was named to the NHSI All-Tournament team, upped her per game scoring average from 10 points as a junior to 15 points this season.
“It gave me more confidence coming into the season when my teammates were still confident in me,” McCaskill said. “I think that set the tone for the season. It could’ve gone the other way; we could’ve all been down and gave up. But we came together and did big things. We’re champs.”
Schaible gets comfortable
Hannah Schaible and her Dr. Phillips (Orlando) teammates have made the Washington, D.C. area their home by winning the NHSI girls championship two of the last three seasons, including a 62-45 victory over Archbishop Spaulding (Severn, Md.) on Saturday. Schaible could continue that trend next year as she has signed with George Washington, located a few blocks west of the White House. A big contingent of her future teammates came out for the game.
"On the plane up here, I started thinking that the next time I fly here, it will be for good," said Schaible, who said she got a little emotional when she realized her high school basketball career was over, with three consecutive state titles and two NHSI titles. "I started crying at the end of the game," Schaible said. "It's so amazing to come this far with this team. We lost here in the semis the first year and then to win two years ago and again this year. You can't end any better than that."
Schaible and two of her Dr. Phillips teammates, Jade Cheek and I'munique Green, are in the middle of their flag football season and before this week, had not played a basketball game since they won the state 8A title in February. On Monday, it's back to flag football, which is a sanctioned varsity girls sport in Florida.
"We have five games next week," said Anthony Jones, who coaches the girls basketball and flag football teams. "Hannah (Dr. Phillips' point guard and quarterback) is a strong girl. It comes from football."
Schaible said a football mentality definitely helps when a basketball game gets physical.
"I'm used to getting hit," she said. "In football, it's not like they just grab the flag because they usually tackle you too. Because of football, I had to do double practices (basketball and football) along with Jade and Nicky. It just kept us in better shape."
It was a big day for Central Florida
The NHSI could have been held in Orlando's Amway Center and the outcome would not have been more appropriate with Montverde Academy winning the boys title and Dr. Phillips winning the girls title.
"If it was up for renegotiaton, our school would love to host it," Boyle said. "First of all, it. It's a nice trip with Disney and all the attractions nearby. I think it would be an ideal place. It seems like the last several years, with two schools in it each year from Florida, it would be cost-effeicient."