Seahawks feeling strong as they wade into Don Stewart Shootout

Community School's Jay Beshears, left, Ryker Vance, center, and Richard Reisinger, right, enjoy a moment during the third-place game of the Kelleher Firm Gulfshore Holiday Hoopfest on Sunday at Golden Gate High School. GREGG HARDY/CSI

BY GREGG HARDY
CSI EDITOR

Jacob Siegel feels like Community School of Naples’ boys basketball team made a point with its third-place finish at last week’s Kelleher Firm Gulfshore Holiday Hoopfest.

“I think that we showed a lot of Southwest Florida that we can really hang with a lot of teams around here,” Siegel said after the Seahawks’ 54-48 win Sunday at Golden Gate High School over a Deerfield Beach team that reached Class 9A’s regional finals last season.

(One night earlier, the Seahawks nearly prevented Chicago-area powerhouse Loyola Academy from winning its third straight Hoopfest title, losing 46-39.)

Community School (11-2) will be included in another 16-team field this weekend — albeit in abbreviated fashion — when it takes part in the fifth annual Don Stewart Shootout at Lely High School. The event pays tribute to Collier County high school basketball icon and longtime Lely coach Don Stewart, who now serves as an assistant on his son Scott’s staff at First Baptist Academy.

The Seahawks are one of four teams in the Shootout field that will play one game. (The schedule includes six games on Friday and eight on Saturday.) A 4 p.m. tipoff Saturday against American Heritage — which features Zaire Wade, the son of Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade — awaits Community School, which will host Gateway Charter in a district game Friday night.

Three other Collier teams — First Baptist Academy, Naples and Golden Gate — are playing in the Shootout after competing at the Hoopfest.

First Baptist, which lost to Loyola Academy in an early morning tipoff that started the Hoopfest, gets to close out Day 1 of the Shootout when it plays Sunset at 8:30 p.m. The Lions will face a quick turnaround in Saturday’s game against Coral Gables, which is set to tip at 11:30 a.m. 

Scott Stewart said he expects the Lions (11-2) — who have been without senior forward Nick Tompkins for a few weeks — to face a lot of pressure from the two Miami-area opponents, but is confident his point guard (and son) Isaiah Stewart will be up to the task.

“Our guards are getting well seasoned for the rest of the year,” said Stewart, whose team went 2-1 at the Hoopfest and saw its top scorer, Preston Urbancic, become the school’s all-time leading scorer in the finale (passing Austin Williamson). “A month from now, we’ll have a lot of different tools under our belt. It does help to have Isaiah … who calms everything down and makes the right passes.”

Naples High will play one game at the Shootout, taking on St. Peter Marian (Worcester, Mass.) on Saturday night at 7. The Golden Eagles (4-3) were the talk of the Hoopfest’s opening day as they rallied from 18 down in the fourth quarter to beat Hallendale, 60-58. After being soundly beaten by Loyola on Day 2, Naples left the Hoopfest on a high note with a 75-63 win over Seminole.

Coach Garrett Hull, a former standout player at Naples who is in his first season as Golden Eagles coach, said the comeback against Hallendale was big for his team’s psyche and to go 2-1 at the ultra-competitive Hoopfest “was something definitely to build on.”

Golden Gate (which plays Southwest Miami on Friday at 5:30 p.m. and concludes the Shootout with an 8:30 tip Saturday night against Wharton) enters the weekend with some momentum. In their last game at the Hoopfest, the host Titans (3-6) rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat Seacrest Country Day, 63-59, in overtime. With eight of the nine guys in their rotation either sophomores or juniors, coach Brian Kelly said his bunch has little varsity playing experience.

“They’re learning on the go,” Kelly said after Day 2 of the Hoopfest when the Titans’ second-half rally against First Baptist fell short in an 85-71 loss. “… We’re still working on putting four quarters of good basketball together. There’s no substitute for that game experience, and being down and having to climb back into it.”

Shootout host Lely, under head coach Fritz Jacques (who played for Don Stewart at Lely), is off to an 8-2 start after going 6-20 last season. The Trojans will open this weekend’s event with a 1 p.m. tipoff Friday against Coral Gables before playing Southwest Miami on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

Gulf Coast is another Collier team that’s playing well these days. Under new coach Rob New, the Sharks (8-3), who went unbeaten at last weekend’s Gateway Holiday Tournament and have won seven games in a row, open Saturday’s Shootout action with a 10 a.m. game against St. John Neumann. The Celtics are 3-10 this season, though that mark could be significantly better as they’ve lost their last four games by a combined total of 11 points.

Neumann will play in the Shootout’s only all-Collier County game Friday when it takes on Barron Collier at 2:30 p.m. The Cougars (2-8), who won two of their three games at last weekend’s Southwest Florida Sunshine Shootout, are scheduled to face Elite Academy on Saturday at 1 p.m. 

Palmetto Ridge rounds out the Collier County presence at the Shootout. The Bears (2-7), who went 1-2 at the Sunshine Shootout, play Elite Academy on Friday at 4 p.m. before facing Sunset on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

Follow CSI on Twitter at @239CSI or like CSI on Facebook at facebook.com/CollierSportsInsider. Email Gregg Hardy at editor@colliersportsinsider.com.