The Dreher Blue Devils headed home for the holidays on a high note, defeating Lower Richland 70-59 to earn third place in the Chick-fil-A Classic Holiday Basketball Tournament on Tuesday at Richland Northeast.
“I’m proud of my guys, I think we’ve got a lot we can build on,” Dreher (8-2) coach Jeff DiBattisto said. “Overall, this was really good for us.”
Coach Mark Burnitz is looking to build experience in his young team, and was encouraged by the Diamond Hornets’ performance in the tournament, despite their 1-2 finish.
“We saw in this tournament that they’re going to fight and they’re going to play hard. We just, unfortunately, weren’t ready to play the first half of this game,” Burnitz said.
Senior Jared Richardson led the Diamond Hornets (4-7), and the game, with 33 points and seven rebounds.
Dreher’s Tevin Mack posted 32 points, making him the tournament’s high scorer with 99 points in the Blue Devils’ 2-1 outing. Mack is the second player in the tournament’s 13-year history to have both a 30-point and a 40-point game in the four-day event.
“He’s a special, special talent. Honestly, he just does what he does. You kind of expect him to do it, and he continues to deliver,” DiBattisto said. “He does that, and we’ve got a bunch of other guys that are playing hard and contributing.”
Dreher got 12 points from Deandre Nathaniel.
Dreher trailed by five early, but got rolling when Mack checked in after five minutes of play. They took the lead for the first time on a lane-driving Nathaniel layup seven minutes in.
From there, Dreher kept pulling ahead, even as Lower Richland won the battle for rebounds. The Diamond Hornets posted 35 rebounds, turning 16 offensive boards into 17 second-chance points.
With Nathaniel and Mack pushing the offense, the Blue Devils’ lead was up to 11 points with six minutes left in the half. Richardson and Kelvin Washington kept the Diamond Hornets’ offense alive, but they could not keep up. Their man-to-man defense could not hold Dreher, and at halftime, the Blue Devil lead stood at 33-16.
Burnitz said the Diamond Hornets are looking to the future – Lower Richland and Dreher meet again in the season’s first region game on Jan. 7.
“We tried to keep it real vanilla,” Burnitz said.
Dennis Smith, Jr. (Trinity Christian); Xavier McDaniel, Jr. (Hammond); Tookie Brown (Morgan County); Jailyn Ingram (Morgan County); MVP: John Ogwuche (Greenforest Christian). Most Outstanding Player: Tevin Mack (Dreher)
Marcus Evans (Cape Henry); Mario Kegler (Arlington Country Day); Lamone Turner (Arlington Country Day); Jahshire Hardnett (Arlington Country Day); Damon Wilson (Our Savior New American); MVP: Cheick Diallo (Our Savior New American); Most Outstanding Player: Chris Clarke (Cape Henry)