STORY BY CHIP CIRILLO | PHOTO BY KINDELL BUCHANAN (previous game)
Braeden Moore proved he could rebound from a bad game Friday.
The 6-foot-7 freshman answered another question Saturday when he led Christ Presbyterian Academy to a seventh-place finish with 21 points in a 57-54 win over Ballard (Louisville, Ky.) at the Next Level Hoops Fest at CPA.
Moore was held scoreless in Thursday’s opening-round loss to Dunham before rebounding with a career-high 32 in Friday’s double-overtime heartbreaker to First Academy.
“You respond (Friday) because you have grit and determination, but then can you deal with success?” CPA coach Drew Maddux said. “And he was fantastic today.”
CPA (11-7) was clinging to a 55-54 lead when Moore clinched it with two foul shots with 5.6 seconds left. He also made five 3-pointers.
“I was thinking we have zero timeouts and if I knock this it would ice the game,” Moore said. “So I knew I had to make it and it was all in the knees. You know, just don’t sweat it.”
Bryce McCormick, the Lions’ most experienced player, fouled out with eight rebounds and five assists with just over one minute remaining.
“The thing I love about Braeden is he’s hungry for it,” Maddux said. “I think physically he’s going to grow a little bit more. He has a high ceiling in terms of his skill set.”
Senior McNeill Stout added 11 points and sophomore Braden Zapp scored 10 for the Lions, who hit their average with an 11-of-22 showing from beyond the 3-point stripe. Stout made three crucial steals in the second half.
Rashad Bishop led Ballard (7-6) with 19 points and Walter Johnson Jr. had 14. Johnson missed a last-second 3 that could have sent the game into overtime.
“I was just praying it wasn’t going to go in,” Maddux said. “It was a great look.”
Ballard outscored CPA 30-8 in the paint, but the Bruins made only 3 of 12 3-pointers.
CPA took a 32-20 halftime lead, but Ballard rallied to take a 41-38 advantage after the third quarter. The Lions outscored the Bruins 19-13 during the last eight minutes.
“Ballard is a traditionally strong program and I told our kids, third quarter, they’re going to make a run,” Maddux said. “So, I was really proud of our fourth-quarter effort.”
Woodward Academy 57, First Academy 53
Walker Kessler, a 7-foot center, led Woodward (College Park, Ga.) to a fifth-place finish with 35 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks in an overtime win.
The junior scored 11 of the War Eagles’ 15 OT points, including dunks for the first two baskets of the extra four-minutes session.
“Just win,” Kessler said of his OT mindset. “But that was not (just) me in overtime. We all played great defense, played great offense and didn’t make any stupid turnovers.”
Kessler hit 13 of 18 from the floor, including one 3-pointer, and 8 of 10 foul shots.
The five-star prospect (24/7 Sports) has at least 21 offers, including Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia.
“I think the sky is the limit for him,” Woodward coach Anthony Thomas said. “You’re talking about a kid that’s 7-feet that can stretch the floor, shoot the basketball, score at both hands and handle the ball in the full court so he’s got all the tools. He’s legit.”
Woodward returns most of the key players that made it to the Georgia Class 4A sweet 16 last season.
“I haven’t faced anyone like him in a while,” First Academy coach Chris Mayberry said. “He’s super skilled, talented, good free-throw shooter. That fade-away he hit late in the game was incredible.”
The Royals (5-8) shot a season-worst 5 of 32 from beyond the 3-point stripe. Kanye Jones led three Royals in double figures with 23 points.
MVP: Carlos Stewart, Dunham. Dunham: Salle Wilson, Jordan Wright; Oak Ridge: Herbert Booker, Marcus Smith; Brentwood Academy: Marcus Fitzgerald; First Academy: Kanye Jones; Woodward: Walker Kessler; CPA: Braeden Moore; Whitehaven: Matthew Murrell, Jordan Wilmore