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Raw Sports captures 2022 Donofrio Championship

04/20/2022, 10:30am EDT
By Joseph Santoliquito

Joseph Santoliquito (@JSantoliquito)

Anthony Smith took a seat and thought about it for a second, when it finally sunk it. That was it. No more organized basketball. His massive right hand pushed away his hair, and he looked down, and thought about it again—saying aloud, “Yep, that was it.”

It was a great way to go out for the 6-foot-7, 280-pound senior from Shippensburg High School, considered one of the country’s best defensive ends heading to the University of Minnesota.

Smith closed his high school basketball career being named to the Donofrio Classic all-tournament team, scoring 17 points in helping Raw Sports win the 2022 Donofrio Classic, 114-76, over Love Basketball-Team Hardnett, which was led by Anthony McCall’s game-high 31 points and  Elmarko Jackson’s 23.

Jackson was awarded Whelan Twins Memorial MVP Award for Love Basketball-Team Hardnett, while Raw Sports’ Chance Westry, who led Raw Sports with 27, took home the Art Andrey Sr. MVP Award and Love Basketball-Team Hardnett’s Rashon Locke-Hicks the Albert C. Donofrio Award.

“This is kind of crazy, because I can remember looking up at the scoreboard in the second half and there was 10 minutes left, and I thought, ‘This is it for me, it’s really over, no more organized basketball,’” Smith recalled. “I’m really happy I can go out with a 40-point win, and I go out with the Sportsmanship award. I don’t really think that there is a better way to go out than that.

“Minnesota definitely encouraged I play basketball my senior year. I asked coach (P.J.) Fleck (Minnesota’s football) in the beginning of the year when I committed if I could play basketball and compete in track. He said, ‘Go ahead, I want you to.’ He talked to be about dunking the ball and bringing the rim down.”

Smith dunked a ball with such force last summer—that’s exactly what he did, brought down the rim and whole backboard during an AAU tournament last summer in Maryland. Smith was allowed to keep the rim, which he keeps in his basement.

Raw Sports (above) celebrates the 2022 Donofrio Classic Championship. (Photo: Joseph Santoliquito)

Shippensburg High School is one of the smaller 5A schools in PIAA. Smith and Shippensburg reached the state quarterfinals, where they lost to Philadelphia area traditional powerhouse Chester.

“It was a good run for all of us,” Smith said. “Basketball was my first love. My mom played basketball and she taught me the game growing up. I weigh 265 right now, and last year, I got up to around 304 and I underwent a drastic change. A lot of schools saw me as an offensive lineman, but I see myself as a defensive end.

“This is it for me with basketball. I’m going to commit to football and I’m committed to the fact that I really want to make it to the NFL. This is like a death of a close friend. I got to dribble up and down the court with my friends, and I do with my family watching. It’s a great way to end it.”

The 6-foot-6 Westry was clearly the best player on the court. The Auburn-bound combo guard scored Raw Sports first eight points, and there was no looking back from there.

“I played in the Donofrio my freshman year and we reached the elite eight, and this year we finally won it,” said Westry, who lives in Harrisburg, but attended Compass Prep in Chandler, Arizona. “This is great to play against players of this level. With college being about a month away, playing in tournament makes me push harder, because I know time is ticking. I have to take advantage of the time I have.”

One player tough to miss was Jackson. He threw down a thunderous, highlight reel jam in the first half, and he and McCall did their best to stay with Raw Sports.

“I wanted to win this,” said Jackson, who’s received recent offers from Syracuse, Maryland, Minnesota, Seton Hall, St. John’s WCU, Miami, Ole Miss, Penn State and La Salle. “They were big and I felt like we didn’t show as much heart as we should have in the first half. We didn’t give as much effort as we should have and I out some of the blame on me, because I should have set the tone early.

“I’m semi-satisfied with what I did in the tournament. I played to win this. I think I helped myself with my newfound shooting ability. I just wanted to win this.”

Another player who shined was Lincoln’s diminutive Locke-Hicks. The 5-foot-5 guard finished with 8 points, five rebounds, two offensive and four steals. He was all over the place, even matched with the 6-6 Westry in the opening minutes of the game.

“It was a good test for me, going against bigger people,” Locke-Hicks said. “I wanted to win. I play to win. We just couldn’t get any stops. There was a size difference, but I don’t think about things like that. This was a nice way to start my summer.

“Hopefully, people will see what I did here and I’ll get some college interest.”

All-Tournament Team

Jayden Brown (Cool Hoops)
Devon Jainlett (Cool Hoops)
Qudire Bennett (Great American Pub)
Deyishon Miller (Hunting Park II)
Ethan Meuser (NEPA)
Justice Shoats (NEPA)
Chance Westry (Raw Sports)
Anthony Smith (Raw Sports)
Javon Adams (Raw Sports)
Anthony McCall (Team Hardnett)
Elmarko Jackson (Team Hardnett)
Rashan Locke-Hicks (Team Hardnett)
Jackson Hicke (Primetime)
Xzayvier Brown (K-Low Elite)
Robert Wright III (Philly Hoop Group)
Dean Coleman-Newson (Yellow Jackets)
Jake Kapp (Gibbs Elite)
Jake Bolyn (Gibbs Elite)
Adam Clark (M-Sport)
Justin Edwards (M-Sport)

Sportsmanship Award
Anthony Smith (Raw Sports)

Albert C. Donofrio Award
Rashan Locke-Hicks (Team Hardnett)

Whelan Twins Memorial MVP Award
Elmarko Jackson (Team Hardnett)

Art Andrey Sr. MVP Award
Chance Westry (Raw Sports)

By Quarter
Team Hardnett:  38 | 38 || 76
Raw Sports:      59 | 55  || 114

Scoring
Love Basketball-Team Hardnett: Anthony McCall 31, Elmarko Jackson 23, Rashon Locke-Hicks 8, Christian Kirkland 8, Muhsin Muhammed 2, Jerell Keel 2, Nayeem Johnson 2

Raw Sports: Chance Westry 27, Ruben Rodriguez 18, Anthony Smith 17, Javone Adams 14, Tyler Houser 13, Chas Kelly 11, Myles Grey 8, Edwin Swarez 4, Aris Rodriguez 2

~~~

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who began writing for CoBL in 2021 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter here.


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