Stephen Noel scored a game-high 24 points Friday as Martin County High School’s boys basketball team defeated Tallahassee-Leon 59-53 to win the Don Wallen Holiday Tournament at the Don Wallen Athletic Complex in Stuart.
Leon entered the game as the much bigger team but the Tigers managed to control the pace and spread the ball around.
The Tigers seemingly played three different types of games during this tournament. They won with their athleticism in the opener against Clearwater on Wednesday and relied on defense in Thursday’s semifinal against Miami Springs.
“It came down to our leadership on the team,” Tigers head coach John Leon said. ““They were bigger and faster. We had to control the ball and execute.”
Noel, named the tournament Most Valuable Player, also had six rebounds for Martin County (8-5). Jero Brown added 13 points.
Natorian Tyson, who had double-doubles in Martin County’s first two tournament wins, did not play in the final. He was benched for showing up late to a team meeting.
After a slow start, Martin County will take a four-game winning streak into January.
“That ghost is still over our head from last year with being undefeated,” Leon said. “I think we’re getting past that and we are getting better.”
Tresan Davis scored 13 points and Israel Chapman had 12 for Leon.
St. Thomas Aquinas defeated Miami Springs 69-52 in the third-place final. St. Thomas Aquinas easily has the most height and length in the tournament and used that to their advantage. Senior guard Eylijah Stephens scored a game-high 22 point for the Raiders.
South Fork lost to Clearwater 65-55 to finish winless in the tournament. The Bulldogs tied the game in the fourth quarter before the Tornadoes pulled away late.
Senior Noah Thorp scored a game-high 24 points for Clearwater. Nick Sossi scored 16 points for South Fork.
Leesburg defeated Lake Nona 49-41 in the fifth-place final. Trey Johnson had three of Leesburg’s five 3-point goals.
The all-tournament team is Israel Chipman (Leon), Jaylen Taylor (Leon), Rod Harris (Martin County), George Johnson (Martin County) and Noel.