By Pat Lammer
FORT MYERS — University School used its superior size to overwhelm St. Louis (Mo.) Vashon on Tuesday in an opening-round contest at the 46th City of Palms Classic at Suncoast Credit Union Arena.
Senior 6-foot-10 center Vernon Carey Jr. posted a double-double with 35 points and 13 rebounds, while 6-8 junior phenom Scottie Barnes had a triple-double (13 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) in the Sharks’ 96-69 rout.
U-School outrebounded Vashon, 60-21. The loss is the Wolverines’ first in seven games this season.
“With him [Vernon on the court], the attention is not always on me,” said Barnes, a versatile playmaker who has the attention of all of the nation’s blue bloods. “So, when I drive to the paint they still have to look for him. So that will give me easy buckets, and if they come up, he finishes so well.”
Carey, a Duke signee, finished indeed. All night long. He went 15 for 19 from the field.
University School (7-0), the defending champion in the City of Palms after knocking off four consecutive nationally-ranked programs last December, takes on Imhotep Charter — from Philly — in the quarterfinals of the tournament at 7:15 p.m. Thursday.
Imhotep took apart Kissimmee Osceola, 67-30, in its first-round contest. The winner gets national power Oak Hill Academy in the semifinals at 7:15 p.m. Friday.
First-year head coach Jim Carr and the Sharks are not feeling the pressure of being the defending champions.
“We’re just focused on winning the next one,” Carr said.
“We’re coming at people like they are ahead of us,” Barnes added. “That’s our mind-set coming into the game.”
University School jumped on Vashon from the top, grabbing an 18-6 lead in the first quarter. The Sharks ballooned the lead to 47-27 by the half and led by 25 points going to the fourth quarter.
Juniors Jace Howard and Roger McFarlane also had big games for the Sharks. Howard finished 7-of-13 shooting for 19 points and 9 rebounds. McFarlane had 16 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals.
University School shot 33 for 61 as a team (54 percent) and 27 of 37 from the free-throw line. The Sharks held out guard Zay Flowers. He is still getting back up to speed after football.
Senior Mario McKinney — a Missouri signee — led Vashon with 17 points, while junior Cam’ron Fletcher and 2021 Nicholas Kern both had 16.
The Wolverines shot 24 of 64 from the field (37.5 perccent) and was just 7 of 26 from 3-point land.
“Getting down early in the first quarter kind of hurt us,” Vashon fourth-year coach Tony Irons said. “They imposed their will on us. They were physical. They dominated us on the boards in the first half and the second half. That was pretty much the game.”
UNIVERSITY SCHOOL 96, VASHON 69
US (7-0): Alters 0-0-0, Barnes 3-6-13, Ja. Howard 7-4-19, Carey 15-5-35, McFarlane 5-6-16, Posner 1-0-3, Grant 0-1-1, Perez 0-0-0, Je. Howard 0-2-2, Beaubrun 0-3-3, Hendricks 2-0-4.
VASH (7-1): Russell 2-2-8 McKinney 6-4-17, McCaskill 0-2-2, Fletcher 6-2-16, Clark 2-0-5, Bailey 0-0-0, Cruesoe 0-0-0, Kern 6-4-16, Norman 1-0-2, Ward 1-0-3, Alexander 0-0-0, Yor 0-0-0.
Half: US 47, VASH 27. 3-point goals: Barnes, Ja. Howard, Posner; Russell 2, Fletcher 2, McKinney, Clark, Ward.
If you have high school basketball news, you can reach Pat Lammer via e-mail at PatALammer@Gmail.com or via text at 954-661-9671.