The last two years, the calendar has lined up perfectly for Tipoff Night, which takes place on the eve of the annual Torrey Pines Holiday Classic.
Tipoff Night features some of the best prep basketball teams in San Diego and has been a tremendous success, drawing sellout crowds at Torrey Pines High. This year’s event featured La Jolla Country Day, Mission Bay, St. Augustine, Torrey Pines, Foothills Christian and Mater Dei Catholic.
The 2018 calendar, however, presents a challenge. The national tournament will run Dec. 26-29 — Wednesday through Saturday — but Torrey Pines coach and tournament director John Olive would like to continue Tipoff Night. He’s looking at Saturday, Dec. 22, for the event.
Best of the best
Olive said before the tournament that this might be the best field in the event’s 28 years. Veteran viewers argued over whether Archbishop Stepinac from White Plains, N.Y., is the best team to play here. The Crusaders boast five players with Division I college scholarship offers, including 6-foot-10 man-child Joel Soriano, who has offers from Manhattan, Stony Brook, La Salle, Iona and Old Dominion.
The best player in the tournament was 6-10 Shareef O’Neal of Santa Monica Crossroads. The son of former NBA great Shaquille O’Neal, Shareef is 4 inches shorter and 100 pounds lighter than his father. But Shareef, who has committed to Arizona, can shoot the 3-pointer and had seven dunks in a game against Foothills Christian in which he had 30 points and 11 rebounds.
Xavier Johnson, a guard from Bishop O’Connell in Arlington, Va., is the real deal. He’s committed to Nebraska.
Mission Bay figures to be a force in San Diego with players like Boogie Ellis and Ronnie Latting.
Taeshon Cherry of Foothills Christian matched up with the best players in the tournament. Teammate Derrick Carter-Hollinger was named to the all-tournament team.
In the end, no San Diego teams reached the final of any of the five divisions.
The National Division was so good that Los Angeles Fairfax, ranked No. 6 in the state, and Oakland Bishop O’Dowd, ranked No. 3, played in a losers bracket game at 11 a.m. St. Augustine beat Bishop O’Dowd 74-60 on the final day. Saints sophomore Chibuzo Agbo was among the best players in the tournament.
Foothills Christian and Fairfax, the last two National Division champions, played in Saturday’s fifth-place game. Foothills got 17 points from Cherry, 16 from Yassine Gharram and 15 each from Jaren Nafarrete and Carter-Hollinger and beat Fairfax 74-73.
Torrey Pines, which came into the tournament ranked No. 1 in the San Diego Section, lost its first two games by a point while Olive was home sick.
The Falcons then won by 27 and seven and beat 12-2 Riverside Poly 75-50.
Who’s No. 1?
Playing in tournaments around the country, every team in the Union-Tribune Top 10 had at least one loss last week. And several had two losses.
That will make the next poll, which will appear on Wednesday, very interesting.
Vista, San Marcos and Westview were the only members of the Top 10 not to play in the Torrey tournament.
Torrey Pines Holiday Classic
Complete boys basketball tournament results are at theholidayclassic.org
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