Porter-Gaud’s one-two punch of sophomore Aaron Nesmith and freshman Josiah James combined for 41 points to carry the undefeated Cyclones to a 56-47 win over James Island in a first-round matchup at the Rotary Roundball Classic on Sunday night.
Nesmith poured in 23 points, while James added 18 to spark Porter-Gaud to its first-ever 10-0 start. Porter-Gaud advanced to the winner’s bracket of the International bracket and will take on Don Bosco Prep — a 79-54 winner over Stall — on Tuesday at 4 p.m. at North Charleston High School.
“Certainly we knew coming into the game that James Island would be a tremendous challenge for us,” Porter-Gaud coach John Pearson said. “Their size and athleticism is not something we have seen a lot of so far this season. This was a tremendous test for our basketball team, and to come out with a win is really a nice accomplishment for us.”
With James saddled with early foul trouble, Nesmith scored 19 points in the opening half, scoring eight points during an 11-2 run late in the half to give the Cyclones a 29-20 halftime lead.
James Island rallied behind Vince Cole’s 22 points to tie the game at 37 with 8:07 left in the game before James went on his own personal scoring run of 16 points to give the Cyclones a 53-45 lead with 2:02 to go.
“Aaron and Josiah are the bookends, and both are very effective offensive players for us,” Pearson said. “Josiah got in that early foul trouble and Aaron really carried us in the first half. Aaron got pretty winded there in the second half and Josiah found his rhythm. But we also had a lot of other guys really do some good things for us. Things that go unnoticed by everyone except me.”
Neither team was particularly effective offensively in the game. Porter-Gaud shot 36.4 percent from the floor and made only 4 of 20 3-point attempts.
James Island shot 35.3 percent from the floor and connected on 5 of 19 shots from beyond the arc.
Sophomore post Jake Lanford added nine points and 10 rebounds for Porter-Gaud. James Island’s Buss Hamilton added eight points and six boards for the Trojans, while Jordan McDaniel added eight boards and five assists.
James Island (4-3) will play Stall on Tuesday at 10 a.m.
In the opening game of the day, Don Bosco Prep shot 53 percent from the floor, led by Omar Mostafa’s 18 points. Devon McCoy paced Stall with 21 points and five steals. The two teams combined for 61 turnovers.
In the nightcap, Goose Creek battled St. Vincent Pallotti of Maryland in a first-round game of the Foundation bracket. The Gators suffered their first loss of the season after eight straight wins, falling in overtime, 67-63.
Goose Creek led by as many as nine points in the second half, holding a 59-33 lead with less than 35 seconds remaining in regulation. St. Vincent Pallotti rallied to tie the game with 3 seconds left and outscored the Gators, 8-4, in the extra period.
The tournament continues on Monday with five games, beginning at 2:30 p.m. as Pinewood Prep takes on Germantown Academy.
2:30 p.m. – Pinewood Prep vs Germantown Academy
4 p.m. – Lincoln (NY) vs. West Ashley
5:30 p.m. – Bullis (MD) vs. North Charleston
7 p.m. – Sandy Creek (GA) vs. Northwood Academy
8:30 p.m. – Peachtree Ridge (GA) vs. Wando