Abundance of athletic talent and sportsmanship

Lisa Johnston | lisajohnston@archstl.org

An overflow crowd saw Chaminade defeat Cardinal Ritter 93-49 in the finals of the Chaminade Christmas Tournament.The two Catholic schools are among the top high school basketball teams in the area this year.

Though Chaminade dominated throughout the game, both teams displayed an abundance of athletic talent and played with vigor and sportsmanship. Chaminade scored every way possible — from under the basket, from beyond the three-point line, from layups and from alley-oops.

Jayson Tatum led Chaminade with 24 points and 10 rebounds (official totals weren't available from Chaminade), playing a bit more than one half. He hit on 3-point shots, displayed finesse dribbling, excelled at rebounding and defense and dominated when going to the basket. Tyler Cook also excelled, along with several others.

Cardinal Ritter couldn't stop Chaminade's offense but fought hard all game for rebounds and loose balls. Players drove to the basket and had some success, but they made only one of 10 3-point shots and overall made just 32 percent of their shots — far off their season average of 70 percent. Junior center Brandon Jackson led with 20 points, making eight of 10 field goals.

Chaminade's coach, Frank Bennett II, said the team followed what they have been taught — to pay attention to defense and to look for easier shots. "It's fun watching these guys put the team above themselves and share the ball. They're not out there for themselves, they're out with the right motives, and that's what made tonight special, and hopefully we'll continue that throughout the season."

The team still has to pay attention to the details, especially on defense, he said. "They're good young men who want to be coached, they love each other and put the team first."

Chaminade led by 27-9 after the first quarter and 55-21 at halftime.

Chaminade defeated Cardinal Ritter 73-68 Dec. 3 in another tournament. Cardinal Ritter now has a 7-4 record and Chaminade is 7-2.

Isaac Olson, a junior forward for Chaminade, said the team tries to focus on unselfish play. He added that players on the bench have a role as well, showing energy and support for their teammates.

Cardinal Ritter, he noted, is a good team, and the Chaminade players hope that the new level and energy the team displayed will carry over to other games and "is the beginning of something great. Hopefully we will keep it going through the playoffs."

The team learned from last year not to let up at the end of the season, Olson added.

A teammate, junior guard Taylor Jeffries, noted that Chaminade will keep playing hard in practice as the season progresses.

Chaminade advanced to the tournament finals with a 78-42 win over Hazelwood West. Cardinal Ritter won 75-53 against Pattonville to get to the championship game.

Cardinal Ritter's coach, Marvin Neals, said Chaminade was just a better basketball team. "They have a lot of size and some gifted players. We just don't have the size to match up. We're going to play hard every ball game, win or lose. But we did not shoot well like we normally shoot."

He was pleased with Jackson's play, noting that he has had his two best games against Chaminade.

The plan was to cut Chaminade's time of possession, but Chaminade started so fast that it made Ritter change its approach to try to come back from the deficit, Neals said.

Other tournaments

On the girls side, Incarnate Word Academy won its seventh Visitation Christmas Tournament championship in a row and its 10th in the past 11 seasons. The team defeated Kirkwood 59-33 in the title game, with Napheesa Collier scoring 32 points. She was awarded the Most Valuable Player award for the tournament. Sonya Morris had 11 points for Incarnate Word.

In the DuBourg Girls Christmas Tournament, DuBourg defeated Affton 47-40 to win the championship. Natalie Klutho had 13 points in the fourth quarter. In the consolation final, Kennedy Catholic defeated Maplewood 48-27. Casey Sowell led Kennedy with eight points.

In the Duchesne Holiday Invitational, the Duchesne girls defeated Hazelwood West 59-34 in the third-place game. Morgan Plackemeier led Duchesne with 16 points.

In the St. Dominic Christmas Tournament, St. Charles West defeated St. Dominic 46-37 to win the championship. Alex Cook led St. Dominic with 12 points.

In the MICDS Holiday Tournament, Lafayette defeated Villa Duchesne 54-43 in the third-place game. Morgan Schlegel led Villa Duchesne with 16 points.

On the boys side:

Valle Catholic High School captured the championship of the Warrior Winter Classic with a 77-41 win over Jefferson R-7. The team reached the finals with a 106-84 win over Zalma when Valle senior Daniel Bergtholdt scored 65 points.

In the Affton Holiday Tournament, Priory defeated Affton 60-55 to win the championship.

In the MICDS Holiday Tournament, St. Charles defeated St. Louis University High School 63-54 in the championship. Brandon McKissic led SLUH with 16 points.

In the Coaches vs. Cancer Holiday Tournament at Meramec Community College, Kickapoo defeated St. John Vianney 67-59 in the third-place game. Danny Baker led Vianney with 21 points. 

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