For a second night in a row, fans packed Broughton High School’s Holliday Gymnasium in Raleigh, North Carolina for the highly anticipated match-up between the DeSoto Eagles (Texas) and the Hampton Crabbers (Virginia). The main story surrounding the semi-final game of the HighSchoolOT Holiday Invitational was a meeting between two future ACC players — DeSoto guard and Duke signee, Matt Jones, and Hampton guard and North Carolina State signee, Anthony “Cat” Barber.
“They’re both good players and the ACC is very fortunate to have them next year,” DeSoto head coach Chris Dyer said. “You guys are going to have a great time watching them.”
When asked about the match up Jones responded by saying, “It was fun to play against him, but I just wanted to win.” The incoming Duke guard also felt confident that his teammate, Takedrick Brown, would do a solid job of slowing down Barber. “Being a competitor and I know that I just wanted to play for my teammates, they depend on me being a senior and ultimately I just wanted to win.”
Both players led their teams in scoring — Jones with 18 points and Barber with 19 points — but it was the Eagles who used their defense to power them to a 46-34 victory over the Crabbers. Devin Wyatt had all of the Eagles 12 blocks and Jones led the team in assists for the second night in a row. Jones also grabbed 5 rebounds which was good for second best on the team, behind Terry Maston’s 8 rebounds and one behind Hampton’s highest rebounder, Jordan Baker (6). Duke Associate head basketball coach, Steve Wojciechowski, was also on hand to watch Jones, while freshmen guard Rodney Purvis and the NC State coaching staff was on hand to show support for Barber.
Barber scored all but 15 of his team’s points and responded similarly as his tobacco road signing counterpart when addressing the match up.
“That wasn’t a big deal,” Barber said. “I mean I play the game, he play the game, we’re both great players and people wanna see that, but that’s not in our game plan and what we wanted to do.”
The NC State signee also rolled his ankle earlier in the game and said that it bothered him for the rest of the game.
DeSoto (18-1) advances to Saturday night’s Summit Hospitality bracket championship game against the St. Joseph (N.J) Falcons (4-1), who defeated the Holiday Invitationals host team, Broughton earlier in the day. The Falcons have University of Kentucky recruit Karl Towns Jr., who is rated as the third best overall junior in the country by ESPN.
“We’re very happy to be playing in the championship tomorrow,” Dyer said. “This is a very, very elite field and has to be one of the top tournaments in America. Very well run, very well-organized… We’re just very happy and grateful to even be invited.”
Jones is averaging 17.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4 assists per game in the tournament so far and he has also only missed one free throw (17-18), shooting an amazing 94.4% from the line.