Rellah Boothe may not yet be a big name nationally in girls high school basketball, but that is changing even as I write this article.
A 6-1 sophomore hailing from Ocala, Florida, but playing for Jacksonville-based Potter's House Christian Academy, she stole the show with a 37-point, 22 rebound performance followed by a 26-point showing the next day at the 2014 Tennessee Turkey Jamm. Sponsored by Girl Powher Basketball, the event featured many of the top high school teams from the South and Midwest.
High school teams representing Murfreesboro (Tennessee) Oakland and Riverdale High Schools, Horn Lake (Mississippi) High School, Rock Bridge of Columbia, Missouri, St. Francis of Alpharetta, Georgia and Joliet (Illinois) Catholic were all two-game winners without a loss. The event with pre-set games was held in Murfreesboro, Tennessee from November 28-30.
For those of you new to following the prep scene, Murfreesboro is one of the hotbeds of the sport having produced three teams (Blackman, Riverdale and Oakland) which have received national ranking in various polls in the last two years. Blackman finished last season as the Tennessee 3A champion being ranked number one nationally in several polls. The prior year Riverdale produced the same results. As this season begins, Oakland appears to be first out of the gate with its two impressive wins at this event knocking off Potter's House 70-68 a night after the Florida team took out Blackman 80-69 (a pre-season national #1 in one poll) on its own floor.
Special kudos to all participating teams willing to come to Murfreesboro and face challenging opposition rather than staying home and garnering more "cupcake" wins. Teams traveled up to 11 hours each way to get to these games! That's dedication!
Taking a look at some of the stars of the event starting with its most outstanding player. Players are listed with height, position, graduation year and school.
Most Outstanding Player
Rellah Boothe, 6-1, power forward, 2017, The Potter's House Christian Academy (Jacksonville, Florida)
Ranked by several scouting services as one of the top 20 prospects in the class of 2017, the athletic lefty repeatedly wowed the crowd with her various moves to the basket as well as her ability to step out and hit perimeter shots to beyond the arc. On numerous occasions, she showed her ability to go above the crowd to collect rebounds in and out of her area.
Her showing in Murfreesboro should start to put her into the discussion for top prospect of the 2017 class. It should be stated that in Sunday's game versus Smyrna (Tennessee) High School, Rellah got into foul trouble and only scored seven points exiting the game in the third quarter on a technical foul while protesting her fourth personal foul. Without her, her teammates survived to win 61-60 squeaker. It was obvious both she and her teammates were mentally and physically exhausted from the two previous highly charged contests.
For Potter's House, winning two out of three games playing essentially as the visitor was a tremendous accomplishment!
Other Standouts (listed alphabetically)
Jordyn Cambridge, 5-8, guard, 2018, The Ensworth School (Nashville, Tennessee)
Cambridge is considered to be one of the top freshmen in Tennessee. Although she plays the shooting guard slot on her high school team, she thinks like a point guard with good vision and decision-making. If anything, she is too unselfish at sharing the ball. Still, in her team's 48-40 victory over Homewood High School of Alabama, she tallied 21 points. She needs to improve her shooting off the bounce as she currently appears more comfortable pulling the trigger off the catch. Only a freshman, she is already getting major division one college interest.
Sophie Cunningham, 6-1, small forward, 2015, Rock Bridge High School (Columbia, Missouri)
Cunningham is well known on the club basketball scene and should vie for McDonald's High School All-American honors this spring. She likes to attack the basket and draw contact. Option two would be to take a mid-range jumper. Her three-point shot would most likely be only a third option and probably needs the most work. She is a good passer and has remarkably quick hands at securing loose (fifty-fifty) balls. Already signed to play next year at nearby Missouri (Her sister is already on team.), Cunningham scored 15 and 21 points as Rock Bridge defeated Parkview (Arkansas) High School 56-44 and East Central High School (Tulsa, Oklahoma) 40-32 during the event.
Crystal Dangerfield, 5-5, point guard, 2016, Blackman High School (Murfreesboro, Tennessee)
Dangerfield is one of those players in the girls game that you might be very willing to pay to see even if you weren't otherwise interested in the teams participating. Her creativity in passing can bring the house down. On top of that, she can score the ball (19 points in the loss to Potter's House and 25 points in the 78-36 win over National Christian out of Maryland). Defensively, she is quite quick. Although an elite level point guard, she still needs to refine her decision making which could have been better in the Potter's House loss. Recently she made an oral commitment to play for the Connecticut Huskies.
- Crystal Dangerfield Crystal Dangerfield of Murfreesboro Blackman HS is one of the top high school point guards in America.
- Crystal Dangerfield. Crystal Dangerfield handling the ball.
- Crystal Dangerfield Crystal Dangerfield driving.
- Alex Johnson Alex Johnson of Murfreesboro Blackman HS showed off her new perimeter skills.
- Alex Johnson Blackman's Alex Johnson.
- Alex Johnson Blackman's Alex Johnson.
- Rellah Boothe. Rellah Boothe [#30 in blue] of Potter's House Christian Academy shined the brightest at the Tennessee Turkey Jamm.
- The Star Sophomore Trio St. Francis High School's star sophomore trio: #15 Maya Dodson, #3 Taja Cumming, #14 Kasiyahna Kushkituah.
align='center'(Action photos are by Kim Baumann of Blackman High School while the still shots are by Bob Corwin.)
Mia Farrell, 5-6, point guard, 2016, Joliet (Illinois) Catholic High School
Farrell took over the starting point guard duties this year and with its star shooting guard (Nicole Ekhomu, 5-8, 2016) out indefinitely, Farrell has had to pick up some of the additional scoring responsibilities to go along with running the offense. In Murfreesboro, she came through splendidly scoring 26 in the 69-65 overtime win versus Norcross (Georgia) High School and 11 points in a blow-out 80-47 win over Homewood (Alabama) High School. She showed both the ability to successfully drive to the rim and hit the three off the pass. She is already receiving major division one interest.
Shelby Gibson, 6-1, center, 2016, Oakland High School (Murfreesboro, Tennessee)
Gibson is a player who gets much more done than one might initially expect from a player who constantly battle conditioning issues being heavy for her height. She compensates with good hands and footwork scoring in the lower paint generally near the rim. Versus East Central, she tallied 14 points in a 53-42 victory and then 18 points in the upset 70-68 win over Potter's House. It will be interesting to see to what level she will go to for college given most major division one programs demand a better conditioned athlete than Shelby presents. Yet, she usually manages to outplay them.
Anastasia Hayes, 5-6, guard, 2017, Riverdale high School (Murfreesboro, Tennessee)
Riverdale was down last year in that they didn't reach the Tennessee 3A State Finals after winning it all in 2013. Anastasia Hayes will be one of the reasons the Warriors will be coming back to the forefront in Tennessee basketball over the next few years. Although likely a point guard on the next level, she plays the shooting guard slot for this team. She is very quick to the rim and has a nice pull-up jumper. She has above average basketball IQ and court vision along with a good motor. Her biggest need appears to be building range out to beyond the arc. In her team's two wins (68-34 versus St. Joseph's College of Toronto, Canada, and 68-35 versus National Christian Academy) she totaled 12 and 32 points. She is already beginning to receive major division one offers.
Keri Jewett, 5-6, point guard, 2015, Dunbar High School (Fort Myers, Florida)
Dunbar lost both its games at the Turkey Jamm, but it wasn't for a lack of effort by Keri Jewett (signed with Southern Mississippi). Versus Little Rock Central, she scored 12 while her team struggled against the superior height of Central, which dominated 80-47. Versus St. Francis, she tallied 23 points in her team's 58-53 loss. Her effort at both ends showed a high motor never letting down regardless of score. In leaving the event, Dunbar Coach Dwayne Donnell expressed his appreciation for being able to play in Murfreesboro indicating the competition was vastly superior to what his team has been facing (average margin of victory 62 points for five games) in Southwest Florida.
Alex Johnson, 6-0, power forward, 2015, Blackman High School (Murfreesboro, Tennessee)
Johnson would qualify for a "most improved players" team. Always possessing a good motor and a willingness to embrace physical play in the paint, she has added perimeter stroke to where opponents must respect her three-point and mid-range shot not just her strong play in the paint. In the two games at the Turkey Jamm, she posted 20 and 21 points respectively. Middle Tennessee has landed a gem with this signing!
Allison Johnson, 6-0, power forward, 2015, Norcross (Georgia) High School
Allison seems to be a player on the rise. An unsigned senior, she appears to be improving her game early in her senior year. Her play seemed more skilled (scoring in the paint) and more confident than seen against poorer opposition just over a week earlier -- perhaps the best brings out the best in her! Her she scored 13 points in the loss to Joliet Catholic and 17 points in her team's 53-41 win over Little Rock Central.
One interesting fact to note about Johnson is that she grew up in Spain and has only been playing ball in the USA since her sophomore season. After this event, she should have a number of division one options for the April signing period.
Kasiyahna Kushkituah, 6-3, center, 2017, St. Francis High School (Alpharetta, Georgia)
"Big Kasi" has a way of controlling the action in the paint whether she scores in double figures (15 points in her team's 54-52 double overtime win versus Homewood Flossmoor High School of Illinois) or single digits (just nine points in her team's 58-53 win over Dunbar High School of Fort Myers, Florida). She is a master shot blocker and strong rebounder at both ends of the court. One of the top post player prospects in the 2017 class, she will have her pick of high major programs to choose from.