By DAVID DORSEY
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Two members of the “Jelly Fam” had vastly different expressions on their faces as they played in front of a fleet of Division I college basketball coaches Sunday evening at the 44th Annual Culligan City of Palms Classic.
The Patrick School, ranked No. 1 in New Jersey and No. 9 in USA Today’s Super 25, defeated Jersey City Hudson Catholic 65-53 in the quarterfinals. If played in the Garden State, it would have drawn about 5,000 fans and had a state championship-like atmosphere.
Instead, it had an intense, national-caliber tournament quarterfinal atmosphere with about 2,500 fans in attendance in capacity 3,500 Suncoast Credit Union Arena at Florida SouthWestern State College.
The Patrick School senior point guard Jordan Walker scored 15 points with one assist as the Celtics improved to 2-0.
Hudson Catholic junior point guard Jahvon Quinerly had a superior game in all aspects but one: the win column. Quinerly scored a game-high 23 points, making 9-of-18 field goals, 1-of-4 3-pointers and 4-of-7 free throws. He had two assists and one rebound. His team, ranked No. 2 in New Jersey and No. 18 in USA Today’s Super 25, fell to 1-1.
“That’s Jersey for you,” Quinerly said, when asked about his physical style of play, which included using his off arm to fend off incoming defenders, of which there were plenty.
The Patrick School improved to 2-0 and will play in the semifinals on Tuesday night against Monday night’s winner between Memphis (Tennessee) East and Mableton (Georgia) Pebblebrook.
Walker and Quinerly, along with Isaiah Washington and Saquan Singleton of New York City are part of a collection of point guards known as the “Jelly Fam.”
Washington and Singleton weren’t competing in Fort Myers. But Walker and Quinerly went head-to-head for the first of what they hope to be two times this season. They might meet again in the postseason.
“We are best friends,” a smiling Walker said. “It’s a big group. When we step on the court, we’re not friends. Not friends at all. But off the court, we’re good friends.”
Walker and Quinerly had reasons to play hard.
Quinerly is being recruited by Seton Hall, Villanova, Arizona, Stanford and some Ivy League schools as well.
Quinerly said it didn’t take him long to notice Seton Hall assistant coach Shaheen Holloway and Arizona assistant Book Richardson sitting courtside.
Texas coach Shaka Smart, who isn’t recruiting either player, also attended.
“I play hard all the time, but I had to show up today,” Quinerly said. “I think I made my case for the best point guard in my class.”
Walker said he was being recruited by Seton Hall, Georgia, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, South Florida and St. Louis.
St. Louis coach Travis Ford also watched the matchup.
Hudson Catholic led 31-27 at halftime.
The Patrick School outscored Hudson Catholic 23-7 in the third quarter.
“I was really disappointed with our lack of execution in the second half,” Hudson Valley coach Nick Mariniello said.
But Mariniello had nothing but praise for Quinerly, who kept his poise in the second half, even during Patrick School’s big run.
“He has a very high basketball IQ,” Mariniello said. “You want him to work on leadership. But I think he’s one of the best point guards in his class. I was happy with his effort. I think he was locked in and focused. Our supporting cast needs to do a better job.”