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January 18, 2009

Top big men battle at Flying to the Hoop

KETTERING, Ohio - The Flying to the Hoop tournament had some impressive talent on display. Even with top teams such as Montrose Christian and Findlay Prep in attendance, it was a battle between two five-star big men that headlined the event.

Fouls threaten big-man battle

The headline battle on Saturday was between a pair of five-star post players. Rivals.com's No. 2 player in the country Jared Sullinger of Columbus Northland High School matched up with the No. 9-ranked player Jeremy Tyler of San Diego High School.

Unfortunately many times when a big-time showdown like this takes place, either the two stars don't guard each other or the referees get whistle happy and put one or both of them on the bench in foul trouble. Early on it became apparent the match up wouldn't quite pan out when Sullinger was called for two very questionable fouls in the first two minutes.

"It was very frustrating, I felt like it was ticky-tack fouls," said Sullinger about his early foul trouble. "From my point of view they weren't fouls, but from the ref's point of view it was."

Sullinger's coach, and father, James "Satch" Sullinger blamed himself for his son's early foul trouble. "I told him it was my fault. I felt like with No. 1 going against No. 2 that the officials were going to let them play and give them a taste of the next level. Everyone was coming to see them, and they called some fouls that I felt were questionable and it kind of changed the flavor of the game."

With Sullinger on the bench, Tyler was able to take control down low. After starting out by shooting, and missing perimeter jumpers, Sullinger took his game down low and showed off his combination of strength and athleticism. Tyler threw down seven dunks in the half, many of which were of the highlight variety.

"I thought my jumper was going to be on, but it wasn't," said Tyler. "My first option is to go down (low), but I wanted to get the feel of the game. I saw that they weren't as strong as I thought inside so I went down low."

Like Sullinger, Tyler picked up a second foul in the first half, and that left both stars in foul trouble. The second half would be much of the same. San Diego played a zone trying to save energy because they only had seven players, and Sullinger really didn't guard Tyler.

With a lot of rest, and showing his basketball savvy, Sullinger began to take over as the third quarter went on. Not the athlete that Tyler is, Sullinger used his array of post moves and excellent footwork to convert down low, and even he caught an impressive alley-oop dunk.

As the fourth quarter began Tyler and San Diego began to tire out. With a few minutes left Tyler fouled Sullinger on a shot for his fifth and final foul. That effectively ended any chance that San Diego had of winning, and Northland continued its undefeated record with a 56-39 win.

In the game Sullinger was 9-16 from the floor and 5-5 from the foul line to finish with 23 points. He also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. Tyler was also impressive going 11-19 from the floor to finish with a double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Montrose escapes

Two years ago the Oak Hill Academy came to the Flying to the Hoop event as the No. 1 team in the country and they faced off against Trotwood-Madison High School. Oak Hill barely survived the game and came away with a tougher than expected win. This year it was Montrose Christian, ranked by some as the best team in the country, that almost suffered defeat at the hands of Trotwood-Madison.

The big advantage for Montrose coming in was its strong front court led by Villanova commitments Isaiah Armwood and Mouphtaou Yarou. Trotwood simply had no one who could match either player physically or athletically, but still Montrose couldn't take full advantage.

Armwood started out the game strong with his high level athleticism and length, but the Trotwood defense began to bother him. Armwood finished with a team-high of 16 points, but he was only 5-12 from the field. He did however manage to snag 10 rebounds, and converted some big buckets down the stretch as the game was in doubt.

Like Armwood, Yarou didn't have his best game. The physical specimen was double-teamed all game long, and at times didn't have it working on the block. He turned it over four times, and shot 5-11 from the floor and 3-6 from the foul line to finish with 13 points. Yarou did of course control the glass with 15 boards, including five of them on the offensive end.

While Armwood and Yarou were the big physical edge, it was Terrence Ross that opened up the most eyes. The high level athlete had it working from outside all game long. He finished 5-9 from the floor, including 3-6 from three point range. Add in three free throws, and Ross finished with 16 points and an impressive seven rebounds. On this day Ross was Montrose's best player.

Even with that trio showing well from themselves, Montrose was in a battle until the final seconds. Trotwood's Duwan Thomas missed a three pointer with under 10 seconds left that would have tied up the game. After Montrose missed free throws Trotwood's desperation shot didn't go, and Montrose escaped with a 52-49 win.

News and Notes

Findlay Prep had absolutely no problem in destroying Bedford High School by the score of 92-21. Obviously it wasn't much of a test for Findlay, and it was tough to get a good gauge on things, but Victor Rudd showed well for himself.

The talented post player finished above the rim and scored a game-high 17 points while pulling in 10 rebounds.

Running the show to perfection for Findlay was Cory Joseph. The Canadian import only finished with eight points, but he also recorded six assists, and snagged eight rebounds. Quite simply Bedford couldn't do anything to stop him.

Dayton commitment Juwan Staten didn't start the game for Thurgood Marshall High School, but he definitely finished it. In his team's win, Staten proved to be impossible keep out of the lane, and scored in the mid-range at will. Staten finished the game with 18 points and three assists.

Unsigned senior wing Ryan Siggins had an impressive game for Kettering Alter High School. At 6-foot-6, Siggins can really shoot the ball, and also he showed an ability to score off the bounce with his high IQ style. Siggins finished the game with 29 points on 9-16 shooting, including 4-7 from three point range.

Xavier commitment J.D. Weatherspoon was neutralized by San Diego High's zone, but still he showed off his trademark explosive hops when he threw down an ally-oop to start off the game. Weatherspoon finished the game with nine points and five rebounds.

Montrose's top young gun is Justin Anderson. The freakishly athletic freshman struggled on Saturday night and didn't score a point.

School lists

Cory Joseph had a hard time remembering his long list of suitors, but he did say he is getting interest from Kansas, Memphis, Minnesota, Texas, Virginia Tech, Louisville, and Ohio State.

Victor Rudd mentioned a top five of Arizona, Gonzaga, UNLA, Marquette, and Providence.


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