Consensus top-10 2015 prospect Diamond Stone swatted five Chinese shots away to set a USA U17 record for blocked shots in a single-game and competition on Aug. 14. Stone, who now has 20 blocked shots, also tallied 17 points and hauled in nine eight rebounds to help the U.S. advance to the World Championships semifinals with a 113-71 victory over China.
Stone, from Dominican H.S. in Milwaukee, Wisc, is having a terrific time on the court in Dubai, United Arab Emerites. He also leads the team in minutes per game (23.4), points per game (14.6), rebounds per game (10.4) and offensive rebounds (20). Stone is shooting 60.4 percent from the field as well.
Despite Stone’s historical game, Henry Ellenson (Rice Lake H.S./Rice Lake, Wis.) was the Player of the Game. Ellenson, who has come off the bench in all five games, sparked two important runs for the U.S. He finished with 21 points, on 10-of-12 shooting, and 10 rebounds (both game highs) while only seeing 15 minutes of action.
The Americans started off strong, scoring the game’s first seven points and went up 15-4 midway through the first quarter. Following China’s only bucket on the stanza, the U.S. pushed its lead to 19-6. China then made 3-of-4 free throws but Ellenson scored on a put-back and then a traditional three-point play to spark a 11-2 spurt that gave the red, white and blue a 30-11 advantage after 10 minutes of play.
China picked up its pace in the second quarter and matched the U.S. almost point for point. Trailing 37-17 with five minutes left in the half, China outscored the U.S. 8-2 over the next few minutes to cut the deficit to 39-25 at the 2:14 mark. Head coach Don Showalter called a time-out to try to get the U.S. to refocus.
Following the timeout, the Americans turned up their defensive intensity and came away with three straight steals and Ellenson scored 10 points in a 12-0 run that closed out the half with the USA back in control, 51-25.
“I just brought energy,” said Ellenson on his contributions to end the first half. “That’s what we needed. I just got after it defensively and that turns into offense. That was a fun spurt for me, for sure. I think sometimes we just didn’t bring the energy. We were just letting them do whatever. So, coach called a couple time outs when we were dead. We just got on our guys to bring the energy, to get the run going because we don’t want to give them any hope to get back in the game.”
The U.S. (5-0) continued their solid play in the third quarter, scoring 18-of-the quarters first 20 points to cement their spot in the semifinals against Serbia (5-0) on Aug. 15. Australia (4-1) will face either Spain (3-2) in the other semifinal.
Three other Americans reached double figures including Malik Newman (Callaway H.S./Jackson, Miss.), who tallied 16 points; Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian Academy/Winston-Salem, N.C.), who scored 12 points; and Terrence Ferguson (Prime Prep Academy/Flower Mound, Texas), who chipped in with 11 points.
The U.S held China star Yanhao Zhou, who averaged 22.3 points coming into the game, to just 11 points on 3-of-9 shooting. Hao Fu led China with 16 while Jinqiu Hu (14 points, 7 rebounds) and Zixu Wang (11 points) also tallied double figures.