Kentucky coach John Calipari was on hand Sunday night when 2014 commit Karl Towns went for 19 points and 7 rebounds and earned Most Valuable Player honors as St. Joe’s-Metuchen outlasted Shore Regional, 78-68, in the Hoop Group Tip-Off Showcase at West Orange (N.J.) High.
The 7-foot Towns scored nine of his team-high 19 in the final 2:47 to trigger an 18-8 run and help St. Joe’s — which reached the New Jersey Tournament of Champions final a year ago — avoid the upset.
“I’m proud that I was able to come through in the clutch for my team. But, you know, that’s my job,” Towns told Mike Kinney of MSGVarsity.com. “I’m just happy that my team was able to come together in the last minutes again.
“But we’ve got to stop doing this. We have to get some blowouts.”
St. Joe’s improved to 2-0 despite tough games against East Brunswick Friday and Shore on Sunday. Dan Pillari exploded for 40 points, including eight 3-pointers, for Shore.
Towns sat for much of the first half with foul trouble, but returned in the second to help his team overcome a deficit that had reached 11 points in the first. He hit two foul shots and scored down low to help put his team up, 69-63.
“The team understands what I can do down there and they’re just looking for ways to get the ball to me in the post,” Towns told Kinney. “Shore double-teamed me and triple-teamed me, so we had to get some threes in from the outside. First half we took some bad shots, but we did a great job in the second half of getting some uncontested jumpers.”
Towns is part of a four-man recruiting class for Kentucky that includes point guard Tyler Ulis, shooting guard Devin Booker and power forward Trey Lyles.
ST. ANTHONY ROUTS POPE JOHN
Senior point guard Tarin Smith went for 22 points as St. Anthony crushed Pope John, 76-47, in the Hoop Group Tip-Off event.
Senior guard Cheddi Mosely added 13 points, sophomore guard Jagen Mosely had 12 and junior swing Markis McDuffie tallied 10 points and five steals.
“It’s a different-type team,” Hall of Fame St. Anthony coach Bob Hurley told Kinney. “The veteran team last year was a lot of kids who had been role players in their careers. Hard workers, some limitations at the offensive end of the court.
“We have a unique mix (now) of three senior guards that can score and a mixture of a lot of good young kids. This was a pretty good team we took apart today. And we’re nowhere near as good as we can be down the road because there are so many young kids.”
St. Anthony will compete in the SNY Invitational Jan. 24-25.