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Donofrio Classic Report: Tues., April 2, 2024

04/03/2024, 10:00am EDT
By Josh Verlin

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

CONSHOHOCKEN — The 2024 Donofrio Classic continued Tuesday night with the first of four second-round evenings, the 26-team field down to 16 entering the night after five days of first-round matchups.

CLICK HERE to access our 2024 Donofrio hub. Read ahead for game recaps and a notebook featuring a couple players who took the court Tuesday night:


Game One: Raw Sports 108, Basketball Finders 102 (2OT)
The night went long thanks to this one, which took not one but two extra five-minute sessions before Raw Sports finally emerged victorious on the backs of 27 points from Malachi Palmer (2024 | Mt. Zion Prep, Md.) and 24 from Justin Houser (2025 | Phelps School). Raw Sports needed a bucker-beater from Palmer to send it to double overtime after Jonathan Byrd (2024 | Rocktop Academy) put Basketball Finders up two with 10 seconds left. Raw Sports finished strong, with Jahrel Vigo (2025 | Allentown Central Catholic) coming up with one huge rebound after another in the final period, Houser adding a few short jumpers to polish it off. Basketball finders got 26 points from Jackson Gaffney (2024 | Rocktop Academy), 22 from Nasseem Wright (2025 | Rocktop Academy) and 17 from Jonathan Byrd (2024 | Rocktop Academy). 

Game Two: NEPA Elite 109, Hunting Park I 78
The group from the Scranton Area (helped out by a good bit of prep school talent) had no problem in getting back to the quarterfinals again, after bowing out in that round last year. It was a balanced effort with eight players scoring at least six points, led by 21 points from Delaware commit Macon Emory (2024 | Perkiomen School), 17 from Mikey Cumbo (2024 | Dallas Area) and 16 from Alfredo Addesa (2024 | Perkiomen School), plus 12 from Quadri Bashiru (2025 | Hill School). NEPA knocked down 14 3-pointers, which helped them jump out to a 19-4 lead and never look back; it was a 51-30 lead by halftime and Hunting Park never made a serious second-half run. HP was led by 20 points from Zion Green (2027 | Imhotep Charter) and 17 from Keon Long-Mtume (2025 | Neumann-Goretti). 


Green continues family legacy in Hunting Park jersey

It was a surreal moment for Rodney Green.

Zion Green (above) followed in his dad's footsteps by wearing the Hunting Park jersey. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

The former Prep Charter and La Salle University standout was in the stands at the Fellowship House as his son, Zion Green, suited up for Hunting Park on Tuesday night, a meaningful moment more than two decades in the making.

Rodney Green played for Hunting Park and its beloved late former boss Greg Wright from 2002-06, all throughout his high school years at Prep Charter, with whom he won a state title alongside Marcus and Markeiff Morris in 2005-06. The three last put on the Hunting Park uniform in the 2006 Donofrio Classic, that team’s run ended in the quarterfinals.

Eighteen years later, there was Zion, in the No. 20 Hunting Park uniform, just starting his own hoops journey. 

“I wanted to see if he really enjoyed the game of basketball first,” Rodney Green said, “and now I’m in awe watching my son play for the same AAU team, same program I did.”

A 6-foot-10, 190-pound forward, Zion Green has a world of promise ahead of him, though there’s still a ways to go to fulfill it, as is the case with even the best high school freshmen. He’s coming off a freshman year at Imhotep Charter that saw him play valuable minutes off the bench for Andre Noble’s Panthers, who won the Public League and PIAA 5A state championship for the third consecutive time.

“It was good, I feel like I made the most of my minutes,” he said. “I was hoping to get better, work on my (mentality). Just become a better teammate, better player.”

Green clearly took strides over the course of the season, playing some of his best ball in the postseason.  He continued that progress with a 20-point outing for Hunting Park, showcasing some tantalizing versatility: handling the ball in the open court, pulling up for 3, getting to the rim and finishing with ease, though there’s still a lot of tightening to be done in all areas. 

His teammates noticed a change in him midway through the season; Green thought it came when playing in the Liacouras Center in the Pubilc League championship.

“I think it’s his decision-making, playing with pace,” Imhotep senior and Hunting Park teammate Ma’Kye Taylor said. “When he first came in here, it felt like he was sped up, he was speeding himself up. I feel like he really takes his time now and gets to the spots he needs to, because he worked on it.”

This summer, Green will be playing with the NJ Scholars’ 15U team, on the Nike E15 circuit, the younger version of the EYBL. He said he’ll be focusing this summer on his shot, getting to the basket, and finishing stronger around the rim.

“As of right now, I just want him to keep working, be humble, grow into a good person, a good man, because everything else will fall in line,” Rodney Green said. “As far as basketball, I want him to get used to playing physical, get used to playing through contact, and once he finds his body, everything else is going to fall into line.”


Familiar foes aplenty for Rocktop’s Byrd

Jonathan Byrd came a long way to feel back home. 

John Byrd (above) played at Rocktop last season after four years at JP McCaskey. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

The Lancaster native and J.P. McCaskey High product has spent this last year playing for Rocktop Academy, traveling the region (and more) with the Northeast Philly-based prep team. But the second game of his second Donofrio experience put him right up against some of District 3’s best in Raw Sports, the team put together by Norristown alum Michael ‘Big Star’ Starling, a well-known videographer who now lives out in the middle part of the state and has brought talent from out that way to compete in the Donofrio for the last decade.

“Most of the Raw Sports team are my guys,” Byrd said. “I grew up with Malachi [Palmer] and Chase [Coleman] so it was fun to play with them, it was like playing at the playground.

“Before the first game, Malachi texted me and he said ‘win the game so we can play each other.’”

A three-year starter at point for McCaskey, Byrd played a big role for Rocktop as well, getting a chance to continue to develop his skills before heading off to college. He’s hearing from schools at a mix of levels, saying he had an offer from D-II Clarion (Pa.) as well as some D-I interest and interest from further D-IIs including Millersville and a couple Florida programs. 

This summer, he said he’s focusing on working on his shot, confident in his ability to handle the rock and find teammates. That was clear on Tuesday night, where even in a losing effort Byrd’s ability to penetrate the defense off the bounce and make plays for others was apparent, the muscular 5-foot-10 guard a one-man press break who can turn the corner on screens or just bully his way into the lane. 

He’s planning on a visit to see Clarion and head coach Damian Pitts at the conclusion of the Donofrio tournament, but has yet to set a date for the visit. Otherwise, he’s waiting to see what else is out there once the transfer portal dust begins to settle, looking for a place where he can study computer science and play ball.

“I know Clarion is a nice fit because I know the coach, he wants me to run his team and I just feel like if I get there I’ll play well,” he said, adding “I’m just weighing my options.”

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