Round one of the heavyweight battles between Class 3 powers Cardinal Ritter and Father Tolton went to host Cardinal Ritter with an 82-73 win. The two Archdiocesan Athletic Association (AAA) conference members are ranked number 4 and number 2 respectively.  Cardinal Ritter went into the locker room down three at 24-27. The Lions took the court with a renewed energy following the half and outscored Tolton in each of the final two quarters spurred by a strong defensive effort. Cardinal Ritter got up and guarded which allowed them to get out and run. The two teams will play again in Columbia, Missouri on February 22. 

Here is the list of players that caught my eye: 

2022 6-8 Jevon Porter, Father Tolton
At 6-8, Porter is one of the higher-upside prospects in his class. Porter has a great blend of size and skill at the wing and displayed smooth shooting mechanics and the ability to create his own shot at all three levels. He made plays off-ball as an active cutter and created shots for himself off the dribble. In terms of upside, he can defend 3 positions and produce on the other end in just as many positions. Porter worked the boards on both ends and did damage inside and out to keep his team in striking distance. He may be one of the top prospects in the Class of 2022 when all is said and done. It’s only a matter of time before the budding star secures a spot across all the major rankings.

2022 6-2 Luther Burden, Cardinal Ritter
Burden is a talented guard with an explosive first step, exceptional foot speed and a nonstop motor on both ends of the floor. Burden is a two-sport athlete with the skill, strength and athleticism to measure up against the best. Already a great finisher at the rim, he also shows promise as a spot up shooter. Burden plays with the type of heart and sense of urgency that will always keep the Lions in the hunt. You can see it in his eyes from the time the ball is jumped that there is no quit in this young man. Burden finished with 18 points and four rebounds.

2020 6-2 Nate Schwartze, Father Tolton
Schwartze was an efficient distributor in transition and in the half-court where he controlled the tempo and got the ball into the hands of his scorers. Schwartze can also create opportunities for himself. He has a tight handle and the ability to create for himself on the offensive end taking defenders off the dribble and knocking down shots from the midrange and beyond. He did a nice job of drawing defenders off balance before attacking and using the angles on drives. He finished the game with 16 points. 

2020 6-7 Garry Clark, Cardinal Ritter
Clark is one of the most versatile players in his class. He can stretch the defense by stepping out and shooting the three. He is an efficient scorer in the mid-range able to nail the face up shot or attack off the dribble and punch it. On both ends of the floor he brought a great deal of versatility because of his scoring package and ability to guard positions three through five. He also had the ability to show off some nice passing skills from the high post working with teammate Brandon Ellington in high-low sets. Clark ended with the game with 20 points and 8 rebounds.

2020 6-2 Chase Martin, Father Tolton
Chase Martin, the son of Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin, is a talented guard who was at his best attacking off the dribble.  Martin was creative with the ball in his hands and a constant threat attacking downhill proving that he can blow by defenders with consistency. Combined with his playmaking ability and elite perimeter defense Martin provided a strong two-way performance for Tolton finishing with 14 points in the game.

2021 6-3 Mario Fleming, Cardinal Ritter
There’s no doubt that Mario’s ability to score the ball is his best asset. The talented junior is a strong finisher with a growing playmaking ability. He is an aggressive, explosive guard in transition that also has the tools to operate from the wing in half court sets. Defensively he patrols passing lanes and contributes to the team rebounding effort. Fleming scored 19 points in the match.

2020 6-6 Brandon Ellington, Cardinal Ritter
Defensively, Ellington is a stellar rim protector who will work to grab almost every available rebound. He has the athletic tools to become a high-level defender with the ability to guard multiple positions as he matures and packs on size and muscle. His length and ability to quickly go vertical is disruptive to offenses and more than a few shooters found it difficult to even get a three-point shot off with Brandon lurking about the perimeter. On the offensive end, he is most dangerous as a dive man off the pick and roll or lurking on the baseline near the dunker’s spot. With his humility and work ethic on the court, there’s plenty of upside to make Ellington an attractive candidate at the next level. He scored 10 points and 6 rebounds.