Holiday Shootout: North Gwinnett (Ga.) 62, Science Hill (Tn.) 52
Lexie Brown and North Gwinnett (Ga.) shot ...
Holiday Shootout: Hathaway Brown (Oh.) 50, Chicago-Whitney Young 42
Beth Brzozowski and Hathaway Brown upset Whitney ...
Photo by COREY PERRINE, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo
Two of the top-ranked teams in the country went down Friday in the semifinals of the Naples Holiday Shootout presented by Arthrex. As a result, the girls basketball tournament at Barron Collier will have a new champion.
In the first semifinal, Shaker Heights (Ohio)-Hathaway Brown stunned Chicago-Whitney Young, ranked No. 2 by MaxPreps, in a 50-46 thriller. In the next game, Suwanee (Ga.)-North Gwinnett knocked off MaxPreps' No. 3 team, Johnson City (Tenn.)-Science Hill 62-52. The teams will meet for the title on Saturday at 9:30 p.m.
Whitney Young (14-1), the defending Shootout champions, completed a perfect season last year and was on track to run the table again this year.
The Dolphins, also defending Illinois state champions, had won 45 straight games and were trying to become the first back-to-back Shootout winners in the event's 14 years. Whitney Young also was hoping to become just the second team to win two championships in the Naples tournament.
Down 46-45 point with 20 seconds remaining, Hathaway Brown junior point guard Beth Brzozowski found open space around the 3-point line, where she nailed the game-winning shot.
"I was just thinking 'I've got to make this,'" Brzozowski said. "It was incredible when I was able to and put my team in the lead."
Hathaway senior small forward Nia Marshall, a Cornell recruit, sealed Whitney Young's fate with a pair of free throws, where she had been clutch throughout the fourth quarter.
"Coming into the game against the No. 2 team in the country, the pressure was more on them than it was on us," Hathaway coach Paul Barlow said.
The pressure was on Whitney Young senior shooting guard Linnae Harper, ESPN's No. 5 recruit in the senior class, with 10 seconds remaining in the game with a chance to bring the game into overtime.
The Kentucky-bound Harper received the ball and sped to the right side of the court before she bolted up the middle. Defenders closed the gap and forced Harper underneath the basket, where she stepped on the baseline with three seconds remaining.
"I was reacting to what the defense was doing," Harper said. "I didn't get where I wanted to be, and it resulted in a turnover. We tried to fight back, but it was too late."
North Gwinnett, ranked No. 19 by MaxPreps, raced to a double-digit lead early, then fended off a feisty Science Hill comeback. The Bulldogs led by 10 in the first quarter before falling behind halfway through the second.
"We're relatively new on the scene," North Gwinnett coach Bryan Sellers said. "They have teams in (the tournament) that have done well over the years. We're out here to see how good we are out of our bubble."
The Bulldogs built an 11-point lead with three minutes left in the third before Science Hill cut the lead to one with 20 seconds left in the quarter. Senior Lexie Brown, ranked the No. 15 senior in the country by ESPN, completed a four-point play with one second left to steal back the momentum for good.
"We just had to take care of the ball," Brown said. "We had a lot of silly turnovers. We just stuck with it and made our shots."
Brown, daughter of former 13-year NBA veteran Dee Brown and a Maryland recruit, was once again the catalyst for North Gwinnett. She scored a game-high 27 points and six steals to go along with three assists.
After the Hilltoppers pulled within three points to start the fourth quarter, North Gwinnett went on a 9-0 run to grab their biggest lead, 12 points, and seal the game. The run included one of Brown's five 3-pointers.
"I love shooting 3s," Brown said. "My game is from the outside, so if I'm hitting out there, I'm feeling good."
The Bulldogs' pressure forced Science Hill into 18 turnovers. The Hilltoppers shot 5-of-19 from 3-point range.
* * *
NORTH GWINNETT 62, SCIENCE HILL 52
NORTH GWINNETT (62)
Brown 10 2-3 27, Rexing 1 2-3 5, Munlyn 0 0-0 0, Belcher 3 2-4 11, Amichia 3 1-3 7, Whitted 4 3-6 12. Totals: 21 10-19 62.
SCIENCE HILL (52)
Tarter 3 3-4 9, Gregory 3 0-0 7, Knack 1 3-4 6, Smith 1 0-0 2, Copney 5 0-0 13, Lyon 4 2-2 10. Totals: 18 11-15 52.
NG 16 11 20 15 — 62
SH 10 15 17 10 — 52
3-pointers: NG — Brown 5, Belcher 3, Rexing, Whitted; SH — Copney 3, Gregory, Knack. Fouls: NG — 13; SH — 15. Fouled out: None. Technicals: None.
* * *
HATHAWAY BROWN 50, WHITNEY YOUNG 46
HATHAWAY BROWN (50)
Smith 2 13-14 16, Solano 0 0-0 0, Brzozowski 4 1-1 11, Poland 4 0-0 8, Roman 0 0-0 0, Marshall 5 5-8 15, Lavelle 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 18-23 50
WHITNEY YOUNG (46)
Hillsman 2 1-2 5, Morris 0 0-2 0, Snower 0 0-0 0, Harper 10 3-5 24, Allen 4 0-0 8, Beck 0 0-0 0, Brame 3 3-7 9. Totals 19 7-16 46
HB 9 8 12 21 — 50
WY 10 13 13 10 — 46
3-pointers: HB — Brzozowski; WY — Harper 1; Team fouls: HB — 12; WY — 15; Fouled out: None; Technical fouls: None