JM Bennett (MD) 2025 guard Jace Hudson.
SALISBURY, MD - After several days of high-quality basketball action, the 2022 Governor’s Challenge came to a close Friday with one final slate of games at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center.
Many players seemed to save their best performances for the finale, as the day featured three 30-point performances and several more that nearly reached that mark.
Here’s a look at some off the standout performances and stories from Day 5 of this year’s event:
BENNETT’S HUDSON CLOSES IN STYLE
JM Bennett (MD) 2025 guard Jace Hudson saved his best performance for the biggest stage.
In front of a huge crowd in the final game of the night, Hudson scored a career-high 30 points to lead the Clippers to a 76-70 win over Cape Henlopen (DE).
The 6-foot-1 Hudson went an efficient 11-of-15 from the field - including a perfect 4-of-4 from 3-point range - and 4-for-4 from the foul line. He had 22 of his points in the first half to help the Clippers build a 42-31 lead at the break.
“Moving off the ball was really working for me tonight,” Hudson said. “That’s what my coach [Greg Brown] was stressing for me to do because I'm good off the ball. So today was that day to put it in motion, and it turns out I got my career high.”
Hudson and fellow sophomore guard Zakai Smullen shined in their first Governor’s Challenge appearances, with Hudson averaging 24.5 points per game in a pair of victories, and Smullen going for 22.2, including 20 against Cape Henlopen.
Understandably, the two had their sophomore moments from time to time, but Bennett coach Greg Brown said it's something he’s willing to live with given their upside.
For Hudson, playing alongside Smullen is something that comes easily.
“I mean, we’ve been playing together since, like, the fourth grade,” he said, “so the chemistry is great. But it feels amazing, because I know if I don’t have it, he’s going to have it, and if he doesn’t, I’ve got his back. And then some nights, we’ve both got it.”
After an even 14-14 first quarter, Bennett took control by outscoring Cape Henlopen 26-17 in the second. The Vikings made a run to trim the deficit to five with 3:53 remaining, but couldn’t fully close the gap.
“It feels amazing,” Hudson said of picking up a pair of wins heading into the New Year, “but we’ve still got to work. But this is where we take off from.”
Jack Schell - a Syracuse lacrosse commit - led Cape Henlopen with 19 points, while Tyronne Tolson had 18 and Trey Leggins 16.
DREAM CITY CLOSES TOUGH STRETCH WITH A ‘W’
Dream City Christian (AZ) built a 17-point lead in their Friday matchup with St. Benedict’s (NJ), but watched the Gray Bees slowly erase it.
When St. Benedict’s eventually tied things up on a bucket by Iowa commit Ladji Dembele with 2:15 remaining, it looked Dream City - playing its fourth game in four days - had run out of gas.
Dream City wasn’t done, though, making plays down the stretch - and surviving an inbounds turnover and Dembele jumper at the buzzer - to hold on for a 61-59 victory.
2025 forward Alejandro Aviles had 16 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists to lead Dream City, which was without its top player in Memphis commit David Tubek.
“We just kept playing,” Aviles said. “We stuck together and we played hard defense. This was our fourth game in four days, so it's been tiring, but I can say we stayed together and fought through it.”
Those weren’t just any four games, either. Dream City ran a gauntlet this week, facing Combine Academy (loss) and Moravian Prep (win) at Slam Dunk To The Beach and DeMatha (loss) and St. Benedict’s at The Governor’s Challenge.
Coming out of that stretch 2-2 is an accomplishment, and Dream City coach Kyle Weaver said he was pleased with how his team responded to adversity on Friday.
“Yesterday we didn’t play so well against DeMatha,” he said, “and we had that same situation - obviously we weren’t up 17; we didn’t build that lead - but for us to lose a lead like that and still find a way to fight it out at the end of the fourth game in four days, I’m proud of their effort. I’ll take that any time.”
After their exhausting stretch - they flew out of Arizona on Christmas night - nobody would begrudge Dream City some well-earned rest.
“I’m just proud of our guys on the fourth game in four days to play the way they played,” Weaver said. “St. Benedict’s Prep is historic. They’re a national powerhouse and we all know East Coast basketball is tough. Like, everyone always talks about the West Coast being soft and all that stuff, so it's always great for us to play East Coast opponents, because it's going to make us tougher. I know who we are, but I always want to play the best of the best. So it was a great event. These four days and four games were phenomenal.”
DeMatha (MD) 2024 forward Malcolm Thomas.
DEMATHA CAPS PERFECT RETURN
DeMatha (MD) capped its first Governor’s Challenge appearance since the inaugural event in 1981 with another impressive victory.
The Stags picked up a 70-53 win over Bergen Catholic (NJ) behind another solid day from 2024 forward Malcolm Thomas (17 points, 7 rebounds) and 2023 guard Jaden Winston (16 points, 5 assists).
“[The key was] staying together,” Thomas said. “That was one of the biggest teams we’ve played against - the big dude #5 [Terry Copeland] was giving me trouble the entire game - but we pulled it together at the end, stuck it out and we won.”
DeMatha jumped out quickly, taking a 13-5 lead after one quarter and a 35-20 advantage at the break.
Bergen Catholic made a run, but the Stags never let them get close enough to threaten in the final quarter.
“It’s a great feeling,” Thomas said of his team’s two victories in Salisbury. “We’re trying to keep the same energy going into the New Year, and just taking it up from there.”
Copeland had 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Crusaders, while Brandon Benjamin had 13 points and 9 boards.
FAST START KEYS HIGHLAND WIN
Highland (VA) wasted little time seizing control of the Bracket #11 title game against Maret (DC), outscoring the Frogs 20-8 in the first quarter.
Maret never recovered from that opening salvo, and Highland went on to pick up a 69-39 victory.
“That’s our goal every game,” Highland 2023 guard Cameron Cole said of his team’s quick start. “Come out hard, come out strong and hit them fast. We’ve just got to work on, in the second half, just keeping our foot on their neck. We did a good job today, but we’re getting better at it.”
The Navy-bound Cole had 20 points to lead the Hawks, who got 14 from Mount Olive commit Darrell Johnson and 10 points and 11 rebounds from 2024 guard Julian Rivera.
“We’re a young team, so we thrive on energy,” Cole said. “The way we want to play is not necessarily to rip and run, but the more energy we can get, the better. We’ve got a lot of young guys and just trying to teach them how to keep energy up in high school games is hard - especially going on the road like this. So, it helps a lot when you get off to fast starts.”
Malchiah Marable and DJ Hill each had 9 points to lead the Frogs.
Mount St. Joseph (MD) 2023 guard Ace Valentine.
MSJ'S VALENTINE COMES THROUGH IN CLUTCH
A day after dropping a game-high 26 points in a win over Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Mount St. Joseph (MD) 2023 guard Ace Valentine wasn’t having his best offensive day.
When his team absolutely needed a bucket, though, he answered the call.
The UMBC commit hit a 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds remaining to lift the Gaels to a 60-58 win over St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes (VA), capping a 2-0 trip in their inaugural Governor’s Challenge appearance.
“It wasn't even a play for me,” said Valentine, who finished with 9 points. “We were trying to get Amani [Hansberry] down low or Tyonne [Farrell] in the short corner, but we couldn’t get those options, so I just moved without the ball and my man found me for a shot. I knew it was straight; I just had to get it over the front rim; I held my follow through and it just happened to go in.”
The shot ended a tough back and forth contest that got especially wild in the final minute. The Gaels missed four consecutive free throws down the stretch, and found themselves trailing 58-57 with 10.7 seconds remaining and the Saints with the ball.
The Saints stepped out of bounds on the ensuing possession, giving MSJ the ball back with 7.6 seconds remaining and setting up Valentine’s heroics.
“He hit a game-winning 3 last year down in the Benedictine Tournament,” MSJ coach Pat Clatchey said, “so he’s been there before. The play that we drew up, that was actually the last part of the play, where he comes off for a hand off, either for a look or a drive. He didn’t particularly have a great offensive game, but he made a big one when it counted the most.”
Farrell had 23 points, Austin Abrams 11 and Hansberry 10 for MSJ. Bryson Wilson had 15 and Riley Jacobs 12 for St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes.
The Gaels came to Salisbury after a successful trip to the Iolani Classic in Hawaii, where they knocked off top-ranked Montverde (FL).
“We’ve never played in this before,” Clatchey said of the Governor’s Challenge, “and we heard good things about it and they were all true. We played good competition and the tournament is very organized and professionally done. But I think our guys are tired, man. We had the trip to Hawaii, and then even though we had a couple of days off, it’s a lot. I’m going to give them two days off, we’ll practice and then we’ve got a game Wednesday. We overcame some adversity today. That was a game that we could have easily lost; we missed four free throws, there were some crazy calls - real crazy calls - and then found a way to win. I think that’s the positive that you take with you.”
RED-HOT WILKERSON LIFTS CENTRAL CATHOLIC
As his team prepared to face off with John Carroll (MD), Pittsburgh Central Catholic 2023 guard Randy Wilkerson had a feeling that it was going to be a good day.
“I knew right when we were warming up,” Wilkerson said. “I was like, ‘Whew, my shot is feeling nice today.’”
Wilkerson dropped 33 points while going an incredible 11-of-14 from 3-point range to lead the Vikings to an 80-74 victory.
Dante DePante had 15 points and Patrick Newell 10 for Central Catholic, which was a relatively late addition to this year’s event.
“We were real excited coming down,” Wilkerson said. “I feel like we wanted to play the best competition possible, which is why we played Mount St. Joe’s (MD) yesterday. So just getting that in and getting ready for later in the year, I feel like that sets us up for a good, solid season. We’re starting section play on Tuesday and I feel like we’re going to play really well.”
The VIkings trailed at the half Friday, but went on a run to take a 62-53 lead after three quarters. The Patriots trimmed that lead to three with 1:24 to go, but couldn’t get any closer.
“I feel like [the key] was just staying calm under pressure,” DePante said. “I mean, they hit some big shots and big 3’s and it would have been easy for us to just, like, crumble under the pressure, but I feel like staying calm was what got us the win.”
Overall, DePante said he and his teammates enjoyed their trip to the Eastern Shore.
“It was awesome,” he said. “There’s some great competition down here, and it definitely just helps us out for the season and playing all these good teams helps us out later in the season for section play, so it was a great experience.”
Yale-bound 2023 guard Jeannot Basima had 19 points to lead the Patriots, who got 12 points from Theartis Battle and 11 apiece from Aidan Able and Caden Chinnia-Falline.
Grace Brethren (MD) 2024 guard Kris Johnson.
GRACE BRETHREN DOMINATES
Grace Brethren (MD) arrived in Salisbury on Thursday after a tough 59-55 loss to host Woodside (VA) in The Way Showcase in Newport News.
They took their frustration out on their two Governor’s Challenge opponents, beating St. John;s Catholic Prep (MD) 79-34 and St. George’s (DE) 95-55 en route to a Bracket Championship.
“We just came off a tough loss to Woodside,” Grace Brethren 2024 guard Kris Johnson said, “and they weren’t even that much better than us, so it really hurt. That just made us hungry, and everybody had the energy and we just came out ready to win. Ready to be relentless.”
2024 guard Damien Jones had 28 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists to lead Grace Brethren, which got solid performances from Johnson (15 points, 6 rebounds), Tremaine Hawkins (14 points, 5 rebounds), Daoda Traore(12 points) and Robert Wiggins (10).
The bracket title continued a strong start to the season for the new-look Grace program, which added several key transfers - including Jones, Johnson, Hawkins and Traore - in the summer.
“Really it was easy [to integrate everyone], if we’re being honest,” said Johnson, who transferred in from St. Vincent Pallotti (MD). “Everybody’s cool with each other. It’s two different AAU teams, so we compete a whole lot when it comes to that kind of stuff, but it just makes us closer at the end of the day.”
Michael Breakley led the Hawks with 12 points, while Dylan Beljour had 11.
CALVERT HALL BOUNCES BACK
Coming off a tough 69-68 double overtime loss to St. George’s (DE) on Thursday night, Calvert Hall (MD) had a relatively quick turnaround for Friday’s bracket third-place game against St. John’s Catholic Prep (MD).
2024 guard Brendan Johnson scored 29 points to lead the Cardinals to a 63-55 victory. Tyrin “Tugg” Bizzelle had 13 points and 11 assists and Troy Tinch added 11 points for Calvert Hall.
“[I was] Just being confident in my shots,” Johnson said. “When you put in the work, you’ve just got to be confident in what you do, so I just had to be confident and step up. My teammate Tugg, he was getting good passes to me, so I just had to knock them down.”
Ayden Hurley had 18 points to lead the Vikings, while Darnell Morris added 13.
Caravel (DE) 2023 guard John Clemmons.
CARAVEL’S CLEMMONS GOES OFF EARLY
Caravel (DE) 6-5 2023 wing John Clemmons opened the final day of action with a bang, posting 34 points and 10 rebounds to lead his team to a morning bracket third-place victory over Gilman (MD), 57-42.
“[I was] Mostly just playing within my team’s system,” he said when asked what was working for him. “I was getting my teammates open and also setting screens and just getting myself open as well. I was running the floor and getting my shots and picking my right spots and everything. I was just doing what I do in the gym all the time.”
Clemmons said Columbia, Vermont and Division II West Chester are the main schools who have reached out to him.
The Buccaneers were coming off a tough loss to Archbishop Carroll on Thursday at UMES, and were eager to bounce back.
“We weren’t really getting stuff going [against Carroll],” he said, “but today I just think we played better as a team and played more within each other. We just trusted each other more, and that’s what got us the win.”
Yasir Supreme had 16 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks to lead the Greyhounds.
MORE FRIDAY NOTES
Delaware defeated Maryland in the final tally of head-to-head victories, with the Henlopen taking 10 wins to the Bayside’s 8. … Archbishop Carroll (DC) grinded out a 66-57 win over Virginia Academy to take home a Bracket Championship. Franklin Ayissi-Etoh led the Lions with 21 points, while Gabriel Jones posted 18 and Landry Barbour posted 15 points and 11 rebounds. … Seaford (DE) 2025 guard Kashmier Wise had 29 points as his team ran by Stephen Decatur 88-66 in a Delaware vs. Maryland matchup.