It wasn’t easy for Duke signee Matt Jones and the DeSoto (TX) Eagles to win the HSOT Holiday Invitational, let alone make it to the championship game, but that’s exactly what they did. It was their first ever trip to North Carolina’s annual tournament at Broughton High School’s Holliday Gymnasium in Raleigh, NC. During their journey to the top of the Summit Bracket they had to get past three very tough teams that featured a lot of talented kids and the last two were lead by players rated within the top-15 of their respective ESPN class rankings.
“This has probably been the toughest three days we’ve had, in terms of competition,” DeSoto coach Chris Dyer said. “This is a hellacious tournament and my hat’s off to the organizers, man this is tough.. All three teams make me feel like I’ve been through a marathon.. I’m tired.”
The Eagles opened up the tournament by defeating the Kinston Vikings 50-57, one of North Carolina’s best teams. Duke Associate head basketball coach Chris Collins was on hand to watch Duke’s prized shooting guard score a team-high 17 points (3-9, 1-3 3pt, 8-8FT) and 4 assists. He also finished with 4 rebounds, which was good for second best on his team behind Terry Maston’s 6 rebounds. In the semi-final round,DeSoto took down the Hampton (VA) Crabbers who were led by the ESPN rated #14 senior, Anthony “Cat” Barber (NC State). Both Jones and Barber led their teams in scoring, 18 and 19 points respectively, but it was the Eagles who used their defense to power them to a 46-34 victory over the Crabbers. Jones led the Eagles in assists for the second night in a row and he also grabbed 5 rebounds which was good for second best on the team, behind Terry Maston’s 8 rebounds and one behind the Crabbers highest rebounder, Jordan Baker (6). Duke Associate head basketball coach, Steve Wojciechowski, was also on hand to watch the Duke recruit.
In Saturday nights Summit Bracket championship game, the Eagles took down the St. Joseph (NJ) Falcons who were led by the ESPN rated #3 junior, Karl Towns (Kentucky) 45-42. Both Duke Associate head basketball coaches Steve Wojciechowski and Jeff Capel were on hand to check out the title game. Although the Eagles senior guard struggled to score, he stayed aggressive, continued to attack the basket and always looked to get his teammates involved.
“Being one of the few seniors, I definitely have to have that role where guys can look up to me and just know that I’m going to make the right play at the end” Jones said. “They do and that gives me confidence to make the right play and coach D (DeSoto coach Chris Dyer) gives me confidence, so I just want to do my role and my role is to be a leader”. “Being a leader you have to make the big plays and me being a big time player, I’m going to be in that position.”
For the first time in the tournament, Jones failed to score in double figures as a rare miss from the free throw line netted him with 9 points (3-12FG, 0-3 3pt, 3-4 FT). Jones also tied with teammate Takedrick Brown to led the Eagles in assists with 3 and his 5 rebounds was good for second on the team behind Terry Maston (6). The Eagles led the Falcons most of the game until a fourth quarter run fueled by Kentucky recruit Karl Towns, who finished with 13 points and 8 rebounds, gave the Falcons a brief one point lead. As is the case with any championship team though, the Eagles showed heart and never looked back after regaining the lead.
“This win means a lot” Jones said. “Just to see the smiles on my teammates faces when we won and to be in North Carolina and to now have these bragging rights; It’s a great feeling right now”. “I’m definitely proud of my team and coaches, who put us in a great position to win and people didn’t expect us to win, but we did so I’m proud right now.”
Not only did Jones lead his Eagles to their first ever HSOT Holiday Invitational championship, but he was named the Summit Bracket MVP. After averaging 15 points and 7.5 rebounds, Karl Towns was named the Summit Bracket Most Outstanding Player. The Summit All-tourney team consists of Matt Jones and Devin Wyatt of DeSoto (TX), Karl Towns, James Ziemba and Marques Townes of St. Joseph (NJ), Tyrone Outlaw of Person County, Denzel Keyes of Kinston, Shelton Mitchell of Waxhaw Cuthbertson, Anthony Doyle of Holly Springs, Devonte’ Graham of Raleigh Broughton and Anthony “Cat” Barber of Hampton (VA).
Matt Jones said that he expects to be at Duke this summer, enrolling in summer school, but to come down to his future home of North Carolina and leave a winner with his teammates and coaches is a great feeling.
By Wayne Bumpass
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