The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

January 9, 2014

Eagles face Vashon in first round of Kaminsky Classic

The Joplin Eagles boys basketball team will try to win its first Kaminsky Classic since 2001. To do so, the Eagles will have to go through a field that includes defending champion Webster Groves.

Competition in the annual Freeman Sports Medicine Kaminsky Classic will tip off today at Missouri Southern State University’s Robert Ellis Young Gymnasium.

“It’s always fun to come home,” Joplin coach Jeff Williams said. “We should have a good crowd. We want to get back in school so we can let all the students know we have a game.”

Joplin will face St. Louis Vashon in the first round at 7 p.m. today. In the other first-round games, Webster Groves plays Neosho at 4 p.m., Jefferson City faces William Chrisman at 5:30 p.m. and Wichita Word of Life takes on Francis Howell at 8:30 p.m. The tournament will continue through Saturday with the championship game set for 3:30 p.m.

The Eagles enter with a 5-2 record, defeating Pittsburg 58-52 on Tuesday night.

Charlie Brown, a 6-foot-1 senior guard, leads Joplin with 29 points per game. Brown, who is receiving college interest from the likes of Colorado State, Long Beach State and Missouri Southern, has been named to the Kaminsky Classic all-tournament team three times. Brown averaged 20.6 points over three games of the 2013 tournament.

“He has become better at being an overall leader,” Williams said. “He has gotten stronger and better each year.”

Keiondre Adams, a 6-0 senior forward, adds about 11 points per game for the Eagles. Jace Braker, Carlos Santillan and Spencer Layne also are projected starters for Joplin.

Vashon (2-8) boasts an athletic squad. Cedric Curry, a 6-4 junior forward, averages 7.5 points per game and is being recruited by such Division II schools as Emporia State. Brandson Jones, a 6-0 junior guard, is being recruited by such football programs as Nebraska, Iowa, Iowa State and Michigan.

“We are better than our record indicates,” Vashon coach DeAndre Davis said. “We have played a tough schedule thus far, and we expect to see some more tough teams in Joplin. We’re a feisty bunch.”

Webster Groves (6-2) returns 6-foot-6 junior center Alex Floresca, who was named to the 2013 all-tournament team. Floresca, who is being recruited by the likes of Evansville, Central Michigan and Missouri State, enters the tournament averaging 9.8 points per game this season. Cameron Hilton, a 6-1 junior guard, leads the Statesman with 10.5 points per game. Sam Craig, a 6-3 junior guard, contributes 8.9 points.

The Statesman had a four-game winning streak before falling 57-51 to Hazelwood Central in the championship game of the Meramec Community College Tournament.

Jay Blossom, who is in his 15th season as head coach of the Statesman, will try to direct Webster Groves to its ninth Kaminsky title. Webster Groves won the tournament six straight years from 2005-2010 and also have won the past two titles.

“Webster Groves is loaded again,” Williams said. “This has been a really good tournament for them.”

Neosho (3-7) is led by 6-2 sophomore forward Darrian Guillory, who averages 17.6 points per game. Starting three freshmen a year ago, the Wildcats finished the 2012-13 campaign with a 1-25 record. Neosho already has shown marked improvement, taking third place in the Black Division of its Neosho Holiday Classic.

Jefferson City (6-6) features 6-6 junior forward O.G. Anunoby, who averages 24 points per game. Anunoby is drawing interest from many Division I schools, including Missouri, Kansas State, Iowa State, Creighton and Missouri State.

William Chrisman (4-3) is led by 6-1 junior guard Chris Horn with 13 points per game and 6-2 senior forward Alex Ball with 12 points per game.

Wichita Word of Life (1-5) features a versatle 6-8 senior forward in Luka Radofevic, who averages 10 points per game. Radofevic, who can play all five positions, has offers from Gonzaga, Virginia and Emporia State. Antoine Hicks, a 5-10 junior guard, leads Word of Life with 12 points per game.

Francis Howell (5-4) is led by 6-4 senior forward Nic Perkins, who is averaging 18 points and 8.5 rebounds. Perkins was a member of the 2013 all-tournament team, averaging 15.3 points.

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