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Pangos Spring Spectacular Recap

Forward Horace Spencer (Findlay Prep, Henderson, Nev.) helped Belmont Shore capture the Pangos Spring Spectacular with multiple double-double games. Photo: Ronnie Flores

Forward Horace Spencer (Findlay Prep, Henderson, Nev.) helped Belmont Shore capture the Pangos Spring Spectacular with multiple double-double games. Photo: Ronnie Flores

Belmont Shore (Calif.) takes the Invitational title of the fourth annual Pangos Spring Spectacular in Las Vegas with an unbeaten record. Graduating forward Horace Spencer of Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) was named tournament MVP at event during first live weekend of Spring Evaluation Period.

After pulling out a big comeback and close victories throughout pool play and bracket action, it was only fitting that the Long Beach, Calif.-based Belmont Shore travel club put together its best performance of the Pangos Spring Spectacular in the championship game. The team, made up of a mix of graduating seniors and underclassmen, jumped out to an early lead and rolled to a 86-69 victory over Compton Magic Red in the Invitational Gold Division title game.

In a tournament consisting of teams from seven Western states and Texas, Belmont Shore navigated through the top division with a 3-0 record in pool play on Friday and Saturday and a 3-0 mark in championship bracket play on Sunday.

In its final pool game versus the Arizona Aces Elite, Belmont Shore had to rally after trailing 18-2 to begin the game. In the championship quarterfinals on Sunday morning, Belmont Shore trailed by six points in the final minute versus Colorado Chaos Elite and was able to pull out a 60-58 victory. Colorado Chaos Elite missed some key free throws while Belmont Shore’s spark was a 4-point play by point guard Lorne Currie Jr. of Fairfax (Los Angeles).

The Buzz 150Currie, an unsigned 2015 prospect, finished with 18 points in the 76-67 semifinal victory over Boise, Idaho-based Hoops Dreams. He saved his best for last, going for 28 points, four assists and five rebounds in the title game win over Compton Magic Red. Currie, a flashy lead guard with an explosive first step and a bit of a feast or famine offensive game, will take an official visit to Providence in the near future and is shoring up his list of officials with Memphis, Kansas St., and Minnesota in the mix.

As spectacular as Currie was in the title game, the most consistent player for Dinos Trigonis’ club team was 6-foot-8 2015 power forward Horace Spencer of FAB 50-ranked Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), who committed to Auburn in August of 2014 but hasn’t signed. The energy four did a lot more than just work the interior defensively, as he consistently scored, had game-changing blocked shots and was a prime offensive threat because of the increased confidence in his face up game. Spencer scored 20 points in the quarterfinal win over Colorado Chas Elite, 22 points in the semifinal victory over Hoop Dreams and had 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots in the championship game to take home tournament MVP honors.

Spencer also neutralized post-graduate Cameron Oliver, Compton Magic Red’s 6-foot-8 power forward who dominated and intimidated with his power dunking and shot blocking in games leading up to the title tilt with Belmont Shore. Oliver had his baseline jumper going in the championship game and finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but it was Spencer who dominated the championship game in the interior and kept Oliver at bay with regards to owning the paint.

Belmont Shore went up 12-4 and kept up the positive momentum for a majority of the first half versus Compton Magic Red. The victors went up 27-16 and had a 43-25 halftime lead. Belmont Shore’s lead grew as big as 20 points (8060) on an alley-oop dunk from 2016 guard Bailey Stout of FAB 50-ranked Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) to Currie late in the game before Trigonis’ club cruised the rest of the way.

Stout contributed four points while 2017 guard Ethan Thompson of Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, Calif.), who played in front of his father and Oregon State assistant coach Stephen Thompson Jr. all weekend long, added 16 points and five steals. Thompson harassed ball-handlers and his three open court steals early set the tone versus Compton Magic Red.

“We came out and played like a team,” said Belmont Shore 2015 shooting guard Isaiah Nichols of Pacifica (Oxnard, Calif.). “We’re trying to play for each other and motivate each other to get a college scholarship.”

The 6-foot-5 Nichols, a sleeper in the senior class who didn’t get much recruiting attention last summer before his senior year of high school basketball, added 13 points versus Compton Magic Red. He is an active rebounder and has solid form on his deep jump shot. UC-Santa Barbara has been active in the recruitment of Nichols and interest is picking up for him from the likes of Nevada, Utah State, CAL, Idaho, Cal-St. Fullerton, Cal Poly SLO, and Cal-St. Bakersfield.

Unsigned 2015 forward Maxwell Kupchak of Brentwood (Los Angeles) also scored 18 points for Compton Magic Red. No other Compton Magic Red player hit double figures, as the team shot itself out of the game in the first half. As a unit, Compton Magic Red converted only 6-of-21 3-point attempts for the game.

Compton Magic Red advanced to the title game courtesy of a 82-77 semifinal win over I-10/Arizona Magic Elite. Oliver finished that game with 29 points. He had 18 points in the 60-50 quarterfinal win over Las Vegas-based Hard To Guard.

In the Pangos Spring Spectacular Invitational Silver Division (for second place pool finishers), another Southern California club, Los Angeles Rockfish, defeated Vista, Calif.-based Gamepoint 17U Elite, 55-45, to win the bracket. Just as it did the week before at the Mark Mayemura Tribute at Long Beach (Calif.) City College, Rockfish played an excellent brand of team basketball to find success in Las Vegas.

Christian Oshita, a 6-foot-5 2015 wing from Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, Calif.) led Rockfish’s balanced attack with 14 points. Ryse Williams, a 6-foot-3 2017 shooting guard out of Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.), added 11 points for Rockfish.

Tim Harrison, an improving 6-foot-8 2016 forward out of Parker (San Diego, Calif.), led Gamepoint with 10 points.

Check back for a report on a number of standouts we evaluated at the Pangos Spring Spectacular on the first of two live weekends during the 2015 Spring Evaluation Period.

Ronnie Flores is the Publisher and Editor of GrassrootsHoops.net. He can be reached at ronlocc1977@yahoo.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores

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