CARLSBAD — San Diego hoops authority Aaron Burgin and his annual Crème of the County returned to Army and Navy Academy Saturday for its fourth installment.
Burgin’s event, as it always does, featured many of San Diego’s top players from the classes of 2023 (eighth graders) to 2019 (seniors) grouped into nine games.
There were two games in each of the classes from 2019 to 2022, “Crème” game and “Select” game, pitting two squads against one another for ultimate competitiveness and preseason bragging rights.
The 2019 Crème game turned out to be one of the more competitive and exciting games of the day as the West team defeated the East, 87-85, in overtime. Torrey Pines forward Travis Snider earned the game MVP honors after his strong all-around performance throughout the contest, but it was Patrick McLachlan of Rancho Buena Vista who took over in the extra two minutes and led Team West to victory.
Torrey Pines forward Travis Snider was the MVP of the 2019 COTC Crème game.
Princeton-commit Ryan Langborg missed his first two sub rotations after switching teams to accommodate a numbers discrepancy, but once he entered, he didn’t waste any time knocking down a handful of his patented 3-point jumpers. Langborg’s East teammate, Vista guard Makiah Morris, joined in on the perimeter shooting festivities with a handful of 3-point and mid-range jumpers of his own.
La Costa Canyon forward Sam Kramer may have had the top individual highlight of the game when he faced-up from 15-feet, swung through from left to right, blew by his defender, and threw down a strong one-handed dunk that few in attendance were expecting.
Other standouts included Chino Hills’ F Nick Manor-Hall, Riverside Notre Dame’s Dondre Bausley, Damien forward Ifeyani Okeke, Rancho Cucamonga wing CJ Fisher, Mission Bay guard Andre Scott and Montgomery’s Kyle Paranada.
The 2019 Select game was the most lopsided one of the day as the East crew defeated the West, 96-56, led by Co-MVP’s Jeremiah Brown of Serra and Roman Wright of Rancho Bernardo, both of whom displayed dynamic scoring ability in transition.
Jeremiah Brown (left) and Roman Wright were the Co-MVP's of the COTC 2019 Select game.
Jett Wilson of Mira Mesa opened some eyes with his quick and shifty ball handling ability and confidence in his pull-up 3-point game.
Charles Williams III of La Costa Canyon was one of the West players who took advantage of the exposure opportunity, showing he’s an improved jump shooter and ball handler to go along with his rangy 6-foot-5 frame.
San Diego Southwest guard Diego Edwards made a huge impact for the West team, as well, staying in attack mode throughout and carving up the opposing defense on the break.
More standouts in the 2019 Select game included Rancho Bernardo’s Jared Brown, San Marcos guard Sean Ragland, La Costa Canyon’s Connor Miller and Rancho Bernardo’s Drew Cisse.
The 2020 Crème game might have had the most overall talent of the day and Poway guard Adam Sevier stole the show, garnering MVP honors with his high motor and playmaking ability for himself and teammates, leading the West to an 89-79 win.
Poway guard Adam Sevier was the MVP of the COTC 2020 Crème game.
Carlsbad guard Jailen Nelson, St. Augustine wing Nakial Cross, Torrey Pines wing Brandon Angel, Rancho Christian guard Bryson Stephens and Damien wing Austin Cook also turned in strong efforts for the winning side.
The East team was led by St. Augustine wing Chibuzo Agbo, Helix forward Maurice Holmes, San Ysidro guard Kailen Rains, Etiwanda guard Brantly Stevenson and Foothills Christian wing Jalai O’Keith.
Fallbrook’s Joel Calhoun came up with some late-game heroics from the perimeter, as his jump shooting display led East to a 79-75 win over West in the 2020 Select game. Calhoun, a 6-foot-3 guard, earned the game MVP.
Other East team standouts included Helix guard Jadyn James, Mater Dei Catholic forward Vincent Warren and Scripps Ranch F Grant Norberg.
The West was paced by Helix guard Samuel Stewart IV, Mission Hills guard Robert Ligayon, St. Augustine guard Declan Bretz and Serra guard Broock Desta.
The 2021 Crème game is always a great opportunity to view a lot of the area’s up-and-coming talent, a kid who spent most of his time on junior varsity last season, Etiwanda’s Jahmai Mashack, took home the game MVP with his two-way effort helping East beat West, 89-88 in overtime.
Etiwanda's Jahmai Mashack was the MVP of the 2021 Crème game.
Mashack not only took on the task of defending highly-regarded San Marcos point guard Chris Howell, but he also showed continued improvements to his scoring package, especially with the mid-range jump shot.
Mashack got plenty of help from his teammates, including Lake Oswego (OR) guard Wayne McKinney, Santa Fe Christian guard Keatten Smith, Sweetwater forward CJ McMillan, Mater Dei Catholic point guard Jessie Campbell and Patrick Henry forward Dexter Stratton.
The West was led by the guard combination of Howell and crafty playmaker Hayden Gray of Santa Fe Christian. Mater Dei Catholic wing Nico Meza drained a handful of 3-pointers as did Point Loma guard Gabe Harrison. La Jolla wing Christian Gamboa and Foothills Christian wing Derrien Carter-Hollinger both showed high motors and intangibles throughout.
St. Augustine’s Isaiah Brickner made sure to show in the 2021 Select game that he was plenty good enough to play in the Crème game. The 6-foot-1 guard was on fire from deep as he led East to a 76-72 win.
St. Augustine guard Isaiah Brickner had a strong performance in the 2021 Select game, earning MVP.
Six-foot-4 San Ysidro wing Raheem Nowlin paced the West team with his three-level scoring ability and his overpowering combination of size and strength in transition.
Other standouts included Mission Bay guard Myles Bennett, La Jolla Country Day guard, Canyon Crest Academy guard Daniel Jackson and Bonita Vista guard DM Sanders.
The 2022 Crème game was loaded with prospects backed by a ton of hype and big reputations, the the show was stolen by a kid who had only been in the U.S. for seven days, Alexis Marmolejos.
The 6-foot Army-Navy guard was a blur in transition and impossible to keep in front with his ability to change direction on a dime and stay balanced when finishing on the break. Marmolejos’ performance earned him game MVP honors as he led West to a 74-57 win.
Mission Bay guard Elijah Black, Mater Dei Catholic guard Kenny Gonzalez, La Jolla Country Day guard John Hapgood and Mission Bay guard Jaysten Ramos were other key contributors for the West.
The 2020 Crème East team was led by a young and versatile group of players in Jurian Dixon, DJ Dudley of San Ysidro, 2023 guard Mikey Williams, 6-foot-10 center Jahzare Jackson and sharpshooting Huntington Beach Marina guard Robert Aguirre, Jr.
Santa Fe Christian F Vincent Berlucchi led team West to a 59-41 win over team West in the 2022 Select game. Other standouts in that game included Helix guard Josh Macagapal, La Jolla Country Day guard Tate Smith, O’Ferrell guard Chris Eugene II and La Costa Canyon guard Preston Ochoa.
The first game of the day highlighted the top eighth grade players in the San Diego area and crafty, high IQ point guard Xavier Ogle of Bernardo Heights middle school led team West to a 61-52 over East and earned MVP honors in the process.
Other standouts from the 2023 game included guard Euan Davis, guard Derrius Carter-Hollinger, wing Patrick O’Leary, guard Ty Hendler, guard Papa Mbengue, wing JJ Bartelloni and guard Jeffrey Temcho.