BRISTOL — Shannon Hale and Jaylen Allen emphatically punctuated storybook homecomings, but Christ School teammate Jerome Hairston was also right at home in the Arby’s Classic championship game on Saturday in Viking Hall.
Hairston, a 6-foot-2 point guard, tallied 22 points, nine assists and three steals while engineering the Greenies’ 73-66 victory.
Hairston’s driving scoop gave Christ School (Arden, N.C.) a 56-44 lead with 5:50 left. But Mentor, which missed 35 of the 45 shots it attempted from 3-point range, twice cut its deficit to three after that, including when Justin Fritts’ driving leaner made the score 63-60 with 2:09 remaining.
Hairston answered immediately, however, driving end to end to find Hale for a transition dunk, and it was a two-possession game the final 1:56.
“Truthfully, I thought No. 1 (Hairston) was the best player in the tournament, just because he controlled the whole game,” said Mentor coach Bob Krizancic, whose team fell to 8-1. “For us, he was a horrible matchup. I thought he did a tremendous job of controlling the game. He got great shots for them. I think he was the difference in the game.”
Hale and Allen, who played for Science Hill in previous Arby’s Classics, were invaluable, too. The 6-foot-8 Hale got eight of his 17 points via dunks. He also had seven rebounds.
Allen had 12 points and eight rebounds. Allen also provided a crowd-pleasing spin on a transition drive before throwing a lob to Hale for a fast-break dunk which gave the Greenies a 44-39 lead with 1:41 left in the third quarter.
Among those in the crowd impressed were Allen’s father and uncle — Shane and Rob Williams — and another Science Hill legend, Damon Johnson.
“It was fun,” Allen said. “I’m glad those guys came. I’m glad my dad and my uncle were here — and Damon and all them guys. They were sitting down there at the baseline and I could kind of hear them talking to me. That kind of helped me too a little bit.”
Hale grew up in Bristol. He’s been attending Arby’s since he was young, and Allen said he’d probably been coming since he was in diapers.
“This feels great,” Hale said. “I grew up right down the street. I saw Brandan Wright play a couple of times — and Leslie McDonald.”
Allen said Christ School was more excited about defense than offense against Mentor, which came in averaging approximately 100 points per game.
“It was basically just a mindset of wanting to get down and guard somebody,” said the long-armed 6-foot-2 Allen, who, like Hale, is a junior.
Mentor was 25 of 71 from the field. A team intent on launching the first available shot, the Cardinals actually turned down some decent looks and seemed overly wary on some others they did shoot.
“We shot 22 percent from three,” Krizancic said, “and I think a lot of it was (due to) hesitation.”
Mentor set a tournament record for 3-pointers en route to a third-place finish here last season and set a single-game record this week. So the Greenies focused on trying to force more drives and two-point attempts.
“We thought our length and our athleticism would give them problems,” Gaines said. “We got lucky that they had a cold night, but I think our defense had a lot to do with that.”
Gaines was pleased to see Hale and Allen manage the pressure after an iffy start with ball security. A lot of people were cheering for Hale and Allen, but there were also a lot of locals who weren’t.
“I think they played with a lot of pressure — back home — to do well,” Gaines said. “Once the game got going … they were just playing and reacting and playing like they’re capable of playing. I’m proud of them.”
Will Weeks, a 6-foot-61â„2 senior, had eight points, 10 rebounds and four assists for Christ School.
Mentor’s Justin Fritts led all scorers with 26 points, although he was 10 of 28 from the field and 2 of 15 from 3-point range. Conner Krizancic and Mitchell Trubisky added 15 and 10 points, respectively.
Christ School out-rebounded the Cardinals, 42-25.
Christ Presbyterian 67
Charlotte Christian 52
Tournament-MVP Craig Bradshaw, a future Belmont player, had 11 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and seven steals to help Drew Maddux’s Lions to a third-place finish.
Brandon Cook made 5 of 6 treys and led Christ Presbyterian Academy with 15 points. Cook had a personal 9-0 run in a 53-second span of the first quarter, making a trey from each corner and another from the wing to give the Lions a 16-10 lead.
Vic Wharton and high-leaping sophomore Jalen Lindsey scored 12 points apiece for Christ Presbyterian.
Athletic wing Ben Richter and 6-foot-7 post Ryan Potocnik scored 15 and 14 points, respectively, to lead Charlotte Christian. Patrick Rooks added 10 despite 3-of-15 shooting.
Rooks was 1 of 9 behind the arc, and his Knights finished 2 for 20. The Lions made 8 of 18 treys.
Greater Atlanta Christian 67
Urspring, Germany 61
Point guard Collin Swinton and wing Delano Spencer scored 20 and 18 points, respectively, to help Greater Atlanta Christian outlast Urspring for fifth place.
The 5-foot-9 Swinton got a lot of his points with driving banks in traffic, including a shot high off the glass that gave the Spartans a 62-52 lead with 2:40 left.
Cole Hobbs (12 points), a 6-foot-6 wing, made three 3-pointers for GAC, and his 18-footer gave it a 65-55 lead with 1:50 remaining.
Sophomore 6-foot-5 forward Andrew Lewis scored 10 points for the Spartans.
Urspring got 20 points from 6-foot-6 Malo Valerien, who found Malik Muler (13 points) with a skip pass for a 3-pointer that cut the Spartans’ lead to 65-58 with 1:21 remaining. It was one of three treys Muler made in the final two minutes. The last one, a transition pull-up with 29 seconds left, got Urspring within 65-61, but Spencer made two free throws with 8.4 seconds remaining to conclude the scoring.
Irmo, S.C. 48
Robert Houston was 1 of 7 from the field, but made a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left which gave Memphis Craigmont a 46-44 lead and proved to be the game-winner in the sixth-place game.
Sam Craft made 4 of 5 treys while scoring a game-high 20 points. The reigning Class AAA state MVP, Craft made two free throws with 15 seconds remaining to give the Chiefs (11-5) a 48-44 lead.
Jordan Washington (12 points) made 1 of 2 foul shots for a 49-46 lead with 9.4 seconds left.
Irmo’s Detrek Browning scored a put-back at the buzzer to conclude the scoring. Browning scored 17 points to lead the Yellow Jackets. He made all six of his free throws.
Tennessee High 59
Sevier County 34
Nathan Terrill was 10 of 18 from the field en route to a game-high 22 points in the Vikings’ consolation game victory. Terrill also had a game-high five assists.
Brennan Crandell (11 points) made 3 of 4 shots from 3-point range for Tennessee High, which made 23 of 41 field goals, including 6 of 12 treys.
Devin Schmidt had 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds for Sevier County. The Smoky Bears were 14 of 48 from the field.