Friar Basketball

Ledo, South Kent Top Tilton at Hoop Mountain (12.5.11)

It wasn’t always pretty, and it certainly ended ugly, but in front of a packed gym at Marianapolis Prep in Thompson, CT, Ricardo Ledo and South Kent scored a surprising win over Tilton on Sunday afternoon.

Playing in front of a packed house, with assistants from Georgetown, Florida, Oklahoma,and a host of others, as well as Jim Calhoun and Kevin Ollie of Connecticut, Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg, and nearly the entire Providence coaching staff looking on, Ledo got off to a rocky start – and South Kent followed suit.

With Tilton’s interior duo Nerlens Noel and Goodluck Okobonoh clogging the paint, South Kent could not find a good look early, as Tilton raced out to a 20-11 lead.

Perhaps the most significant coaching decision of the game was South Kent’s Kelvin Jefferson dropping into a 2-3 zone mid-way through the first half.  Playing without their most versatile scorer (Georges Niang) Tilton was completely befuddled by the zone, repeatedly missing from the perimeter and struggling to find a decent look.

As the Rams’ offense slowed, Ledo started to heat up – scorching, more accurately.

Throughout the first ten minutes, the future Friar was held without a point.  He forced the action on occasion, and was swallowed up by Noel whenever he ventured into the paint.  When he shot from beyond the arc, he didn’t see any more success.

Like all good scorers, all it takes is to see the ball fall through the basket, and after he tipped in a miss Ledo exploded offensively, while Tilton scored only six points over the final 12 minutes of the half.

The result was a 26-6 South Kent run to close the opening stanza, with  Ledo shaking off the early struggles and catching fire from deep.  The Providence native scored 18 points over the final 10 minutes of the first half, capping it off with a step back three pointer with seconds remaining to make it 37-26.

The second half started the same way the first ended, with Tilton looking lost against the zone without Niang, and Ledo liberally firing away as South Kent extended their lead to 61-40 with 9:17 left to play.

Tilton would make a late run, as sophomore Wayne Selden repeatedly attacked the rim and connected on a number of three point shots on his way to 31 points.

But it wouldn’t be enough for a frustrated Tilton squad, and things got chippy in the final minute – so much so that the referees called the game with 37 seconds to play and South Kent up by 12 with a lot of trash talk and shoving taking place on consecutive possessions.

The ending of the game was at best eye rolling, at worst embarrassing, considering the colleges in attendance scouting these players.  The last time Tilton lost was to Notre Dame Prep at the National Prep Championship in March and when the final buzzer sounded a similar scene broke out at center court – with words, shoves, and coaches intervening.

None of the fans that packed the gym or coaches that showed up expected to see a game called due to immaturity.



  • Ledo exploded offensively – hitting shots from well beyond the three point arc and finishing in traffic at times.  His 34 points will make headlines, and his 18 point outburst at the end of the first half was not only impressive, but completely turned the tide of the game.  There’s no denying his offensive ability and defeating a team featuring Noel, Selden, Okonoboh, and Missouri commit Dominique Bull will certainly help quiet rumblings from this summer about a poor record on the AAU circuit.  A fair critique is his shot selection, which is certainly questionable at times (he was more volume scorer this afternoon).  One of Ed Cooley’s biggest challenges in getting the most out of Ledo will be helping him to identify when and where to find his offense.
  • Selden scored a majority of his 31 during the final 10 minutes of the game.  The powerful shooting guard struggled more than I had seen for a majority of this game, but he started taking better jump shots and attacking the rim with far more frequency as Tilton took to the 2-3 zone earlier in the shot clock, and the result was big numbers in a game when he wasn’t at his best.
  • Jump shooting and point guard play will be the two biggest question marks for Tilton this season.  They have a pair of big weekends coming up, as they head to the Brewster Invitational next weekend (which very well could result in a Tilton/Brewster title game) and then against St. Mark’s at the St. Andrew’s Christmas Tournament.
  • Sunday highlighted the value of Georges Niang to this team.  He’s not only their primary interior scorer, but a good passing big man who certainly would have helped against the zone.
  • As talented as Ledo, Selden, and South Kent’s Chris Thomas are, Vermont Academy’s Daquein McNeil was equally as impressive in a win over high-scoring Mont Clar Academy of Pennsylvannia.  McNeil did it all in a highly-entertaining game between two teams that can really score.  The Baltimore native did it all for Vermont – defending, shooting and distributing in a very impressive performance. Jessie Bopp has Vermont headed in the right direction and with McNeal, 6’10, 260 pound powerhouse Dominic Woodson, future UMass point guard Trey Davis, and the talented 6’6 Jamel Artis.  Vermont’s starting five is as talented as any in the league and they could very well make a run at the NEPSAC Class AA title along with Tilton and St. Mark’s.  Woodson is a physically imposing force who can muscle Noel and Kaleb Tarczewski.  Mont Clar was coming off of a win over Class AAA Bridgton – a talented squad with a pair of St. John’s commits and former Friar commit Markus Crider.
  • In an interesting scene, the Providence contingent, made up of Cooley, Bob Simon and Andre Lafleur sat front and center for the Tilton/South Kent affair… mere feet from Jim Calhoun and Kevin Ollie.  It’s been said, but Cooley certainly has a presence when he walks in a room.
  • I went out an bought a new HD camera to up the quality of the videos I take.  Unfortunately for me, and my readers, it was a bust.  I taped the entire game, had great shots of Ledo going off and when I converted the video onto my computer it came back very choppy.  I’m sure there will be plenty of highlight reels available, but my intent was to create a sort of game flow highlight reel, not just showing the top plays of the day, but trying to give readers a sense of how the game went – the good and the bad – rather than just showing the top plays.  Disappointing, but I’ll shoot more later this season.