Miami Country Day School, winners of the 2018 Naples Holiday Shootout American Division (PC: Bob Corwin)
By Bob Corwin
In its 20th year, the Naples Holiday Shootout did not lack for finals’ drama. Coming of its impressive triumph at the NIKE Tournament of Champions, Miami Country Day School of Miami, Florida, defeated Beaver Dam High School of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, 52-43 to win the American Division in a battle of nationally ranked teams. St. Thomas Aquinas High School of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, defeated Nease High School of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, 64-62 to win the National Division. The event, consisting of two eight-team divisions, was again held at Gulf Coast High School in Naples, Florida, during December 27-29. About 23 colleges (mostly Division 1) attended at least one day of the event presented by the Florida Gulf Coast Sports Foundation.
Looking at the American Division final…
Miami Country Day School (Miami, Florida) 52-43 Beaver Dam High School (Beaver Dam, Wisconsin)
The difference in this game was the combination of superior Miami athleticism and depth. Most impressive about Beaver Dam was that its players carried out their roles (scorers scored and defenders defended) will discipline, showing great patience rarely taking bad shots. Beaver Dam led 13-10 after one quarter but Country Day controlled the second stanza, thanks to Koi Love’s nine points (mostly in the key) going to the break up 31-24. After three periods, the Miami lead was 48-34 as four different players chipped in points. To its collective credit, Beaver Dam dug in with solid, intense man-to-man defense holding Country Day scoreless for about next four minutes cutting the lead to 48-43. However, the team from Wisconsin could get no closer in the last four minutes. Miami Country Day was led in scoring by Koi Love (MVP, see below) with 19 points while Beaver Dam was led by Tara Stauffacher (All-tournament selectee, see below) also with 19 points (hitting five threes).
Looking at the National Division final…
St. Thomas Aquinas High School, winners of the 2018 Naples Holiday Shootout National Division (PC: Bob Corwin)
St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Fort, Lauderdale, Florida) 64-62 Nease High School (Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida)
This game was considered about “even money” coming in (unlike the American where Miami Country Day was favored). Nease was stronger in the middle while St.Thomas Aquinas had more perimeter firepower. As pointed out by the Aquinas coach, the real difference may have been three tough games (all losses) at the She Got Game Classic in Metro DC, while Nease was undefeated and largely untested as to close end-of-game battles coming into this contest.
Aquinas led 23-7 in the second period but a combination of foul trouble and poor shot selection combined with increased resolve by Nease brought the lead down to 29-20 at the break where Aquinas’s Halie Murphy (All-tournament selectee, see below) led all scorers with 14 points for the half (17 total for the game). Much of the second half belonged to Nease’s Camille Hobby’s dominant (All-tournament selectee, 23 points all in second half) post game. After three quarters, Nease led 44-43 with the lead up to 51-44 a few minutes into the final stanza. Here the Aquinas big-game experience kicked in tying the score at 51 with 5:17 left in the contest. The game remained within a few points until the finish. A Nease turnover with under 10 seconds left gave Aquinas’s Bella LaChance (MVP, see below) an opportunity to be the hero. Going coast to coast, LaChance (game high 27 points) scored the game winning lay-up as time expired.
Below in alphabetical order (with listed height, graduation year and school) are the All-Tournament Teams of the American and National Divisions. School location is in parenthesis.
Naples Holiday Shootout 2018
American Division All-Tournament Team
Maria Alvarez, 5-7, 2019 Miami Country Day School (Miami, Florida)
Signed with South Florida, Alvarez continues to run offense and hit threes (13 for this three-game tournament).
Chaniya Clark, 6-4, 2021 Fort Myers High School (Fort Myers, Florida)
Clark is big and strong and set the single-game record for the event with 20 rebounds in a 74-72 win over Mercy of Louisville, Kentucky. Power 5 schools should be monitoring her maturation.
Sania Feagin, 6-4, 2021 Forest Park High School (Forest Park, Georgia)
A quality athlete, Feagin is considered one of the post prospects in the 2021 class. She helped lead her team to third place in the American Division scoring with a combination of face-up shots in the key and posting near the rim.
Koi Love (MVP), 6-0, 2019 Miami Country Day School (Miami, Florida)
Signed with Vanderbilt, Love continued her strong rebounding and double-digit scoring in the paint in leading her team to another Naples Holiday Shootout (last won in 2016) title.
Tara Stauffacher, 5-11, 2019 Beaver Dam High School (Beaver Dam, Wisconsin)
Signed with Wisconsin, Stauffacher is a strong perimeter shooter. She hit nine threes in Naples and posted double digit scoring in all three contests.
Maria Alvarez (left), Koi Love and Tara Stauffacher (all-tournament selections) at 2018 Naples Holiday Shootout (PC: Bob Corwin)
Naples Holiday Shootout 2018
National Division All-Tournament Team
Zia Cooke, 5-9, 2019, Rogers High School (Toledo, Ohio)
Signed with South Carolina, Cooke is considered to be one of the top guards in the 2019 class. She can score from behind the arc, at mid-range and at the rim. Her efforts helped her team to third place at the Shootout.
Mya Giusto, 5-5, 2019, Gulf Coast High School (Naples, Florida)
Signed with Tampa, Giusto posted 25 in her team’s first round win over Sacred Heart of Louisville, Kentucky, and 20 points in her (shorthanded) team’s loss to Rogers High School of Toledo, Ohio, thus finishing fourth.
Camille Hobby, 6-3, 2019, Nease High School (Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida)
Signed with North Carolina State, Hobby is one of the top post-players in Florida. She is strong around the rim and has a nice face-up stroke in the key.
Bella LaChance (MVP), 5-6, 2020, St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
Orally committed to Vanderbilt, LaChance runs the offense and is also one of her team’s leading scorers (20+ in each of the three games at Naples).
Halie Murphy, 5-8, 2019 St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
Signed with St. Francis (PA), this lefty loves to spot up along the baseline. She posted double digits in her team’s last two wins at the Shootout.
Camille Hobby (left), Bella LaChance and Halie Murphy, 2018 Naples Holiday Shootout All-tournament team members (PC: Bob Corwin)