Independence High coach Preston Davis said his 6-foot-10 senior center Justyn Hamilton is really starting to play well.
Hamilton had 18 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks against Vance Friday night. He backed that up with 24 points, on 10-of-13 shooting, plus 15 rebounds and four blocks Saturday at the Southeast Hoops Festival at Vance High. Hamilton and Independence overcame a slow start and ran away from previously unbeaten United Faith 83-66.
“We had a good run in the second quarter and in the second half we pulled away,” said Davis, whose team, No. 7 in the Sweet 16, improved to 4-2. “I think it was a good win, especially coming off a (76-72) loss to (No. 14) Vance (Friday) night. That was a heartbreaker. It was a game we felt we let slip away and we needed a bounce-back win.”
On Saturday, Independence was playing its fourth game in five days, but Hamilton appeared fresh. A Temple recruit, Hamilton was dominant against United Faith (7-1), helping Independence shoot 60.4 percent for the game, compared to 32.4 percent for United Faith.
United Faith senior guard Jalen Knight, a Hartford recruit, had 24 points and four steals, and junior forward K.C. Hankton had 14 points and 11 rebounds, but United Faith struggled to score, making 23-of-71 field goal attempts and the Falcons were outrebounded 43-32.
Matthew Statile (16 points, four rebounds) and Chea Johnson (15 points, five assists, three steals) also had big games for the Patriots. But the story was Hamilton.
“Justyn, the past two games, he’s really playing well,” said Davis, whose team begins Southwestern 4A conference play Tuesday at East Mecklenburg. “The key thing with him is, I say, to play active. When he plays active, good things happens. He blocks shots and alters shots, like he did tonight, and he did a good job rebounding and attacking the rim. He had it going tonight and he played with a lot of activity. He’s really starting to come on.”
↑Great games at Southeast Hoops Festival: a couple of tight games, including Vance’s win over reigning N.C. 4A champion Charlotte Catholic in three extra periods, helped make Saturday’s Southeast Hoops Festival special.
↓Great games at Southeast Hoops Festival: extended games forced the schedule to run late and game organizers decided to move Saturday’s finale between York Prep and Cannon School to Sunday. That game was originally scheduled for 9 p.m and might not have started until 11 on Saturday. Instead, the teams will meet Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at Vance High.
↑5th annual Holiday Celebration of Hope Dinner, Hoodies House Tournament: Several teams participating in the annual Hoodies House national holiday tournament will help serve meals for members of the community who are homeless, elderly or experiencing financial hardships. This year’s event is Dec. 18 from 3-7 p.m. at the Greenville Neighboorhood Center, 1330 Spring St., Charlotte. Participants get a free meal, clothes and can watch TV, get a haircut and play games. The U.S. Marine Corps will be providing new Christmas toys for youth. Info? 704-400-6035 or hoodieshouse.org
↑Vance girls: After a 1-2 start, Vance went 3-0 this week, led by senior Imani Payne, West Charlotte transfer Anisa Abdul-Ali, returning sophomore Tori Reid and Kyanna Morgan, a freshman who moved in from Iowa.
↑Nicolas Claxton, Greenville Legacy Charter: Claxton, a 6-9 senior forward signed with Georgia, had 27 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks and two assists in a 76-68 win over Raleigh Word of God at the Southeast Hoops Festival at Vance High Saturday. UNC recruit Brandon Huffman, a 6-10 center, had 17 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks for Word of God, and teammate Blake Harris, a Washington recruit, had 26 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals.
Saturday’s Big 5 Performers
Aniya Finger, Mountain Island Charter girls: Freshman had 35 points in a 61-38 win over Highland Tech. Besides nearly outscoring the opponent by herself, Finger added 13 rebounds, 10 steals, four assists and four blocks.
Cam Hamilton, Vance: 31 points in a 76-74 3 OT win over Charlotte Catholic. Hamilton made 11-of-16 free throws and had seven steals and six rebounds.
Justyn Hamilton, Independence: 24 points, 15 rebounds, four blocks, three assists in a 83-66 win over United Faith.
Mevin Huntley, West Charlotte: 19 points, 13 rebounds, on 9-of-13 shooting, in a 72-71 win over Piedmont Classical in the Southeast Hoops Festival.
BJ Mack, Charlotte Christian: 6-8 sophomore had 18 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals in a 80-52 win over Wayne Country Day at the Southeast Hoops Festival. He helped lead Christian, No. 4 in the Sweet 16, to an easy win. Rob Peterson (15 points, six rebounds), Kayle Mason (15 points, six rebounds) and JC Tharrington (nine points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals) also had strong games.
Saturday’s Girls Roundup
No. 2 Providence Day 72, Durham Academy 22: UNC recruit Janelle Bailey had 24 points for Providence Day and Laila Barnes had 14 and Kennedy Boyd 10 in an easy win. Providence Day, which improved to 7-0, held Durham Academy to six points total in the second half.
Asheville Christian 54, Carmel Christian 46: Asheville Christian held Carmel Christian to three points in the second quarter and built a lead, eventually holding off a late Carmel rally. Emma Newton had 20 for Asheville Christian. Aja Jones had 16 points and 17 rebounds for Carmel.
Saturday’s Boys Roundup
No. 2 Providence Day 54, Durham Academy 49: The Chargers (7-2) struggled to find offense against Durham Academy’s 2-3 zone -- something of a recurring issue this season -- and trailed for a good bit of the game. With less than two minutes to play, freshman Luke Stankavage got a steal, dribbled nearly the length of the court and scored a layup while getting fouled to give his team a lead it kept. Stankavage finished with 13 points. Devon Dotson (21 points, five assists, three rebounds) and Trey Wertz (nine points, eight rebounds, four assists, three blocks) also had strong games for the Chargers. Jack McCallie (12 points) and Jordan Davis (10) led Durham Academy (8-1), which lost for the first time.
No. 9 Forest Hills 83, Anson Senior 70: Nas Tyson had 18 points, Trey Belin had 17 and Jai Rorie had 16 for Forest Hills (4-0) in a relatively easy win. Anson -- coached by former Garinger High and Vance coach Carlton “Spanky” Anthony -- got 32 points from Ervin Bennett.
No. 14 Vance 76, Charlotte Catholic 74: The Cougars took down the reigning N.C. 4A state champions in three overtimes at the Southeast Hoops Festival. Catholic (2-3) has lost three games by a combined 18 points. The Cougars were led by 27 points and 11 rebounds from Trey Kloiber. Vance got 16 points, two steals, two rebounds and two blocks from Marcus Neal.
Carmel Christian 75, Asheville Christian 67: Donovan Gregory had 24 points, Myles Pierre 15 and Marten Maide 13 for Carmel in the win. Carmel led by three points to start the fourth quarter but outscored Asheville Christian 26-20 after that to seal the win and improve to 7-1.
Metrolina Christian 70, North Raleigh Christian 54: Nick Dietrich had 27 points and Malcolm Wade 20 to lead Metrolina (6-1) to an easy win. Sam Okaura of North Raleigh led all scorers with 29 points.
SouthLake Christian 56, Christ The King 48: Madison Monroe had 24 points to lead SouthLake in the win. Scott Harvey had 18 for CTK in the loss. Teammate Brian Stanly added 16 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
West Charlotte 72, Piedmont Classical 71: Melvin Huntley (19 points, 13 rebounds), Christian Koonce (19 points, four rebounds), Patrick Williams (14 points, eight rebounds, three assists) and Isayah Johnson (13 points, 11 rebounds) all had big games for the Lions. West Charlotte rallied in the fourth quarter, outscored Piedmont Classical 19-9 and limiting Piedmont to 3-of-11 shooting at the Southeast Hoops Festival. Piedmont got 19 points, 11 rebounds from Elijah Joyner.
Wilson (SC) 61, Olympic 58 -- The Trojans made a big rally at the Southeast Hoops Festival, but came up short. Neither team scored a field goal in the final three minutes. Wilson got 12 points each from Jaylen Quick and Alex Caldwell. Olympic got 17 points, seven steals and two rebounds from Jaylen McGill and 12 points and six rebounds from Jalen Harris.