Something old, something new.
St. Louis Christian, making its first appearance in the St. Francis Borgia Pepsi Cola Thanksgiving Tournament, made quite an impression at the 60th annual event.
The Cougars won the tournament, defeating Washington in the championship game, 61-44.
St. Louis Christian, the third seed, didn’t have a close game during the event, winning by 11 over Pacific in the first round, by 21 over Borgia in the semifinals and by 17 over Washington in the championship game.
The Cougars also placed two players, including the event MVP, on the all-tournament team.
The team was selected by a panel of media members and basketball experts who rated players in each game. The teams playing in the championship contest received two selections apiece while every other team was represented by one player.
Senior Javier Martinez, a 6-6 senior forward, earned the event MVP award while leading the Cougars to the title. Martinez was a scoring machine, particularly in the first half against Washington as the Cougars took a huge early lead in that contest. He ended the game with 26 points.
Joining Martinez on the all-tournament squad was Christian’s 6-7 sophomore forward Anthony Pratt.
Runner-up Washington placed two players on the all-tournament team as well.
Junior guard Ronnie Suggs, who netted 22 points in the championship game, also had a 36-point effort in Washington’s first-round victory. He averaged 23.3 points per game during the tournament.
Senior forward Luke Schropefer, who averaged 12 points per game in the tournament, was a repeat selection for the all-tournament squad.
“It’s a good honor for them. It’s well deserved. They played well,” Washington Head Coach Chip Sodemann said of Suggs and Schroepfer. “It’s a good honor for Washington basketball to have two guys on the all-tournament team. I think that says a lot about our guys. I’m happy for them. I know if given the opportunity, they’d give the credit to their teammates. It’s a well-deserved honors for those guys.”
Each of the remaining teams had one player selected for the 10-player squad.
Representing third-place team McCluer North was junior guard Rashad Lindsey, who averaged 20 points per game for the Stars. Lindsey is a transfer from MICDS.
Borgia, the fourth-place team, placed senior forward Casey Kuchem on the all-tournament team. Kuchem was Borgia’s leading scorer in the event, averaging 9.7 points per contest.
“Casey played hard all the time,” Borgia Head Coach Dave Neier said. “He was doing his best. He can get hot shooting the ball.”
Consolation winner Cardinal Ritter was represented by junior forward Charles Jones, who ended the tournament at 19.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.
Sixth-place team Carnahan School of the Future placed senior guard Imani Reid on the all-tournament squad. Reed led the Cougars in scoring at 14.7 points per game while hitting seven three-point baskets during the tournament.
Pacific, the seventh-place winner, was represented by sophomore guard Cullen VanLeer. He was one of the event’s scoring leaders with 21 points per game and 10 three-point baskets. He also had seven rebounds and six assists.
Senior guard Neyko Dominguez was St. Clair’s selection for the tournament.
Dominguez scored 11 points in the seventh-place game against Pacific and 16 against Cardinal Ritter in the consolation semifinals.
Neier also praised the work of Brad Bruns, who is in his first year of being Borgia athletic director and tournament director and at Borgia.
“He did an exceptional job in his first year running the tournament,” Neier said. “It seemed like he was everywhere. We had great crowds through the tournament and a lot of that was through him. He did a sensational job.”
60th AnnualSt. Francis Borgia Pepsi Cola Thanksgiving Tournament
MVP — Javier Martinez, St. Louis Christian
Anthony Pratt, St. Louis Christian
Ronnie Suggs, Washington
Luke Schroepfer, Washington
Rashad Lindsey, McCluer North
Casey Kuchem, Borgia
Charles Jones, Cardinal Ritter
Imani Reid, Carnahan School of the Future
Cullen VanLeer, Pacific
Neyko Dominguez, St. Clair