Chaminade senior forward Brendan Kelly sees it every day. On Saturday afternoon, the rest of the nation got the chance to witness the Bradley Beal experience up close.
Beal, one of the top players in the country, poured in a game-high 40 points to lead the Red Devils to an impressive 76-58 victory over McCluer North in the ESPN Rise High School Showcase at the Robert F. Hyland Arena on the Lindenwood University campus.
The game, played in front of a sellout crowd of 3,400, was televised across the country on ESPNU. It marked the first time that two St. Louis-area high school basketball teams had been featured on national TV. The 6-foot-4-inch Beal stole the show from the opening whistle. He turned in a complete game sinking 15 of 21 shots including a five-for-eight effort from 3-point range. He added six rebounds, six assists, and four steals. The University of Florida signee, turned in one highlight-reel play after another especially in the first half when the unbeaten Red Devils took control. At times, he so dominated play that it seemed like the other players were moving in slow motion. "He's like that all time," said Kelly, who had 12 points and a game-high 12 rebounds in a strong supporting role. "There is nothing he can do that would surprise me. I've seen him do it all on the basketball court."
Beal not only put on the performance of a lifetime but he outbattled McCluer North senior B.J. Young, a friend and rival. Young, who is headed to Arkansas, scored 24 points on seven of 16 shooting but was unable to get his team out of an early hole. Chaminade bolted out to a 14-7 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. The Red Devils (23-0) pushed the lead to 15 in the second period and led by as many as 23 points in the second half before coasting home.
The Beal highlight reel began early and ran consistently for 32 minutes. Slam dunks, acrobatic blocks, no-look passes. He showed it all. "He's a great player," said North coach Randy Reed. "We knew he would score 35 or 40." Beal, who is averaging 33 points per contest, said he simply let the game come to him. He didn't try to force things and did a good job of getting his teammates involved. Kelly, 6-5, did most of the grunt work inside. Luke Bumgarner came off the bench to add eight points. Reserve Giovanni Ferrara had seven rebounds. Starters Tevin Evans and Christian Suntrup also came up big in the early going.
Beal scored 18 of the Red Devils' first 28 points in helping his club to 28-15 lead. He drained a long range 3-pointer in the last minute of the first half to pump the lead to 15. North scored five points in the final seven seconds of the quarter to climb to within 34-24 at the break. Beal began the second half with a trey before North put together a final charge. Granger capped off an 11-2 spurt with a short jumper that brought the Stars to within 42-35. Chaminade didn't even flinch. Kelly scored on short jumper. Beal then canned back-to-back 3-pointers in 36 seconds. Andy Kleinlein added a 23-footer as the Red Devils regained control 53-36.
"The electric atmosphere and the opportunity for national expose, we just embraced it," said Chaminade coach Kelvin Lee. "We had our ace in the hole (Beal) who can get things done." Explained Beal, "I just tried to focus and not get caught up in all the hype. We just came out and played our game." Chaminade, which captured the state title two years ago, is winning by an average of 22 points per game. The Red Devils are clicking on cylinders down the stretch. Meanwhile, North must try and regain its early-season form. The Stars were unbeatable during the first 10 months of the season. Reed was disappointed in his team's performance although he said the overall experience could help his club the rest of the way. "If you want to be big time, you've got to make big-time plays in a game like this," Reed noted. "Their supporting cast played much better than ours did." Added Young, "It was probably the biggest game of my life, but my team came up on the short end of the stick."