IMG Blue (FL) 2024 guard Tyler Burton.
SALISBURY, MD - Day 3 of the 2022 Governor’s Challenge featured another strong slate of action, with the crowning of another set of bracket champions to go with overtime, buzzer-beaters and an intriguing group of DMVelite Showcase Division matchups.
Here’s a look at some of the standout performances and stories from Wednesday’s action:
BURTON BEATS BUZZER TO LIFT IMG
Since transferring to IMG Academy in Florida, Lancaster, Pa. native Tyler Burton hasn’t had the chance to play in front of many familiar faces.
So when the 2024 guard’s IMG Blue team came to Salisbury to take part in the Governor’s Challenge, it presented a golden opportunity for his supporters to make a relatively short trip to see him.
Burton gave them something to remember, drilling the go-ahead 3-pointer in the final seconds to give IMG Blue a 58-57 win over Keystone Athletic Academy (PA) to close out the day’s action.
“This is, like, our closest tournament to home,” Burton said afterward, “so my AAU coach is here, my family and a couple of friends are here. My barber was here with his family. It was a cool experience and it was cool for them to see that, especially against a big-time team like that.”
Burton - who played at Lampeter-Strasburg (PA), said the last shot wasn’t actually meant for him.
“I came off a ball screen and saw the switch, got a roll and didn’t see it clearly and pulled it out,” he said. “I was going to go to [Gerard O’Keefe], but he was being face guarded, so it was just me alone with 21 [Keystone 6-9 forward Matar Diop]. And I was just like, ‘Alright, I’m going to pull up and I’m going to hit this.’”
That’s exactly what he did, coolly drilling a deep 3 to put the Ascenders ahead.
“It was deep, but when it left my hand it had that good feeling, you know?” he said with a smile. “God kissed it, too, so it was good. Actually, last season for my school team I hit the game winner in the league ‘chip - exact same move - so it kind of, like, brought me back to that moment right away. I kind of got the same feeling, and once I let it go I kind of felt like it was going in.”
Keystone quickly inbounded the ball and raced up the court for one more shot, but star guard Dellquan Warren had the ball knocked away - the Keystone bench lobbied for a foul call - and time expired.
Burton finished with 16 points to lead IMG Blue, which got 12 from Eric Baldassarre. Warren had a game-high 18 points to lead Keystone, while Brandon Davis had 14 and Diop 11 and 12 rebounds. Warren found Diop for a dunk to go ahead 57-55 with 25 seconds remaining, setting the stage for Burton’s winner.
Burton said effort was the key to pulling off the victory against a long and talented Keystone squad.
“I feel like that’s what kept us in the game in the first place,” he said, “because we knew they were very, very athletic. The thing for us is we had to stay together and we just had to fight and we had to bring the effort. They were starting to own the glass in the second half, and they were getting, like, four or five shots on a couple of possessions. But for us we just had to stay together, and it started on defense, because we knew on offense if we slowed down and ran our stuff and set good screens, our offense would click. But it was about doing it together; if we had been doing it by ourselves we would have gotten blown out.”
HAYFIELD OVERCOMES SLOW START
The Hayfield (VA) Hawks have been so successful over the past few seasons - a stretch that includes last year’s undefeated 6A state title campaign - that it’s become uncommon to see them struggle to keep pace with an opponent.
For a stretch of Wednesday’s DMVelite Showcase Division matchup with Elizabeth (NJ), though, that was the case, as the Hawks found themselves in an early hole against a Minutemen squad that had seemingly everything working.
Elizabeth led by 11 points in the first half, but Hayfield rallied to go in front by two at halftime and slowly built out their lead to pick up an 85-73 victory and extend their unbeaten streak to 39 games.
The game was a marked reversal from Hayfield’s victory over Archbishop Ryan (PA) on Tuesday, in which they set the tone early and controlled it throughout on the way to a 61-54 win.
“I’m not gonna lie, our coach [Carlos Poindexter], he kind of just cussed us out,” Hayfield 2023 forward David King said. “He was just saying the energy was very low and we weren’t playing like our normal selves and we had to start playing Hayfield basketball again.”
“Hayfield Basketball” meant the Hawks usual brand of team defense and uptempo offense, both of which were missing early on Wednesday as they were beaten to loose balls and in transition. Poindexter had a theory why.
“I think they just, like, woke up,” he said. “We were sleepwalking through the whole process, and I think a lot of it is because these dudes stayed up until 2, 3 o’clock in the morning and weren't ready to play a game. I could tell by the way they were warming up that we were going to struggle. I did know that, but I thought that our seniors would be able to lead us back into it, and eventually they did.”
One of those seniors - guard DJ Holloway - led the way, scoring a game-high 23 points.
“I don’t think we came into the game locked in like we should have been,” Holloway said, “but once we went into the locker room and talked with the coaches, they told us that we needed to lock in and be more aggressive on defense. We weren’t playing our style of Hayfield basketball, and we got more into that in the second half.”
Indeed, Hayfield opened things up in the third quarter, outscoring Elizabeth 30-17.
King added 22 points and 5 boards for Hayfield, which went 2-0 in its trip to the Shore.
“I feel like we had a great experience,” Holloway said. “We played some great teams and I feel like we came out and showed everybody what we can do and why we won state last year, and that we can definitely repeat this year.”
As for the winning streak?
“Nah, I try my best not to talk about it,” Poindexter said. “Like, we don’t talk about it at all. The media talks about it, so they have to see it and all those things. But I saw somebody post something about 38 wins in a row and I was like, ‘Ugh.’ I always tell them we’re 1-0 for the day, and if we can do that, it’s good enough for me.”
London Carson had 19 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists for Elizabeth, while Cameron McRae had 16 points and Augustine McGee 12.
Parkville (MD) 2024 guard Sincere Barfield.
PARKVILLE PULLS AWAY LATE VS. LARGO
Coming into Wednesday's intriguing bracket division matchup with Largo (MD), the Parkville (MD) Knights knew they’d need to focus their defensive attention on Lions star 2025 guard Cameron Ward.
After weathering an early storm, they were able to get Ward in foul trouble - ultimately fouling him out - en route to a 57-51 victory.
“We’ve been through adversity through the season multiple times,” Parkville 2024 guard Sincere Barfield said. “ So we just came in and tried to work and attack their best player, and when we found out he was in foul trouble we played as a team and came together. That’s what got us the win; it's not an individual game, it's a team game at the end of the day and that’s how we are going to play.”
Barfield and 2023 forward Favor Okigweh each had 12 points to lead a balanced scoring effort for the Knights. Okigweh also grabbed 9 rebounds.
“I think [the key was] just us attacking and getting rebounds,” Okigweh said. “That's what was really killing us at the beginning because we were just jackign and jacking. Once we got to the paint we were unstoppable and once we started rebounding we were unstoppable.”
Ward finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds and helped bring the Lions to within 4 points with 4:50 remaining in the game before fouling out.
Next up for the Knights is a bracket championship meeting with Gaithersburg at UMES Thursday.
“I think we’ve just been battling night in and night out,” Parkville coach Josh Czerski said. “We’ve had different guys - we had a guy in tonight that hasn't played much and he battled and got rebounds. Our defensive intensity was getting a lot of deflections - a few of them popped up but didn’t go our way - but just working hard on the defensive end. It was just good to see the guys battle and get through adversity.”
SHABACH WINS AFTER LATE ADDITION
Shabach Christian (MD) originally planned to be in Florida for an event this week, but their plans were scuttled amidst the flurry of travel cancellations taking place across the country, leaving them without a way to the Sunshine State.
Fortunately for the Eagles, the opportunity to jump into the Governor’s Challenge popped up at the last minute, as a team FROM Florida, Martin County, were forced to drop out Tuesday due to a canceled flight of its own.
So, with just over 24 hour’s notice, the Eagles organized a trip to Salisbury. They made the most of it, picking up a 65-59 win over Glenelg Country (MD) on Wednesday.
“We were supposed to leave [for Florida] at 6:30 in the morning [Tuesday],” Shabach 2023 wing Ibrahim Robinson said, “and I think we found out the night before that we probably weren’t going to go. It was up in the air, and then I woke up the next morning and they were like, ‘We’re not going to go.’"
When the opportunity to come to the Governor's Challenge arose, Robinson said the team jumped at it.
[Coach Taj Hawkins] just told us in the group chat that since we’re not going to be in Florida, we’re going to have a game," he said. "Originally we weren’t going to have a game until January, so I'm glad we got this game in. After a break it got us back on our feet and we got some good bump in.”
Robinson scored 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting while grabbing seven rebounds to lead Shabach, which got 15 points from Andre Thomas, 10 from Kevon Corley and 10 from Reece Samuels.
Glenelg Country was led by star 2024 wing Drew McKenna, who had 20 points and 8 rebounds, while Patrick Curtin had 15 and Xavier Pickett and Dom Carr added 10 apiece. Carr also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.
BRADFORD LEADS GAITHERSBURG
Gaithersburg (MD) 2023 guard Ben Bradford put his team on his back offensively in Wednesday’s meeting with Wagner (NY), scoring 25 points to lift the Trojans to a 52-43 victory.
Bradford got started early, scoring 16 of his team’s 24 points in the first half to help them keep pace with an athletic Wagner squad. After trailing by just a point at the break, they outscored Wagner 19-7 in the third quarter to take control.
Bradford said defense was the key to the second half turnaround.
“We talked, we rotated and we boxed out,” he said. “I mean, they had two kids that are bigger than most of us, so we boxed out and played defense. We had a lot of open shots and we kept shooting but weren’t making any, so we used our defense to get our offense going and we got a lot of steals and fast break points. We missed a lot of shots and free throws, but on defense we flowed and played as one - that’s what really helped us pull it out.”
For the 6-foot-3, 170-pound Bradford, Wednesday’s game was the continuation of a breakout that began last year.
“I was in the gym almost every day,” he said. “And then [his travel team] Mid-Atlantic [Select], I have to thank them a lot because they really pushed me, and showed me things that I had to do and stayed on me. They showed me a different level of competition over the summer and I had to play with a lot of good players.”
Bradford said he’s hearing mainly from Division III schools, with DI Mount St. Mary’s also showing some interest.
St. Andrew's Episcopal forward Mason Jones.
ST. ANDREW’S (MD) TRIUMPHS IN OT
St. Andrew’s Episcopal (MD) earned a thrilling 66-59 overtime victory over St. Peter’s Prep (NJ), but it wouldn't have been in the position too without a heads up play in the waning seconds of regulation from forward Mason Jones.
Jones followed up a teammates’ miss with 13 seconds remaining to tie the game and force the OT.
“Our guard beat his man off the dribble and ended up not making the lay-up,” Jones said, “but I just followed up and tipped it back in. It was a quick turnaround, because they were coming back on offense to get a bucket, so we had to get back on defense real quick. It was just quick thinking - I got the offensive rebound and put it right back up to tie the game.”
St. Andrew’s outscored St. Peter’s 10-3 in the extra period to seal the victory.
“Going into the game we knew they were going to be physical,” Jones said. “We had a couple of guys in foul trouble and we had a freshman to finish out the game [Karon Bailey] and he played awesome. But we just knew we had to do it as a team and we knew we had to secure rebounds and play defense. They had a guy who was hot from 3, and we knew we had to X him out, but it was a great team win.”
Jones finished with 19 points and 7 rebounds to lead the Lions, with Scottie Hubbard and Marcel Gardner both netting 15.
St. Peters’ Nico Pena led all scorers with 25 points, while Jackson Tindall had 17 and Richie Rosa 11.
A HIGHLIGHT MOMENT FOR SMYRNA’S COLEMAN
Smyrna (DE) 6-foot-4 2024 wing Obi Coleman provided perhaps the day’s biggest highlight, jumping completely over a Cambridge-South Dorchester (MD) defender for a nasty dunk in his team’s 56-41 victory.
“It was just my mentality of being aggressive - it was something that was due to happen,” Coleman said. “There’s not much to explain.”
Coleman finished with 16 points and 6 rebounds to lead Smyrna, which outscored C-SD 18-6 in the third quarter to blow things open.
“[The key was] a level of focus, having an aggressive mentality and everyone looking to attack the basket and just playing team basketball.”
MORE WEDNESDAY NOTES
Seaford (DE) guard Brent Ricketts scored his 1,000th career point in an 80-48 win over Parkside (MD). The game was temporarily halted to recognize his accomplishment. … The JM Bennett (MD) 2025 guard duo of Zakai Mullen (23 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists) and Jace Hudson (19 points, 5 boards, 4 assists) stuffed the stat sheet in an 80-72 win over Polytech (DE).