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(FREE) Preview: Cleveland PBP Classic

By T.J. Peatross, 01/02/23, 5:45PM EST


PBP Classics Return to Ohio!

The Cleveland Play by Play Classic presented by Ganley Nissan is perhaps the best single-day event in Northeast Ohio for the 2022-23 season. A total of 7 games will be played on Sunday, January 8th and each matchup is expected to be competitive.

Continue scrolling to play the NEO Spotlight "Pick Em" contest, see the full schedule, players to watch and previews of each contest!

Pick Em Contest

The person who can correctly choose the most winners out of the 7 games will win a $20 gift card and a Play by Play t-shirt.

Here's how to play:

  • Follow our Twitter or Instagram @NEO_Spotlight
  • Choose your winners
  • Tie Breaker (if needed)

- Predict the final score between Lutheran East & Richmond Heights


The link is below!


Time Team 1 Team 2 Location
10:15AM Lutheran West Shaker Heights John Carroll University
12:00PM Gilmour Academy Maple Heights John Carroll University
1:45PM Garfield Heights Imani Christian (PA) John Carroll University
3:30PM Brush Brecksville John Carroll University
5:15PM Mentor St. Ignatius John Carroll University
7:00PM Lutheran East Richmond Heights John Carroll University
8:30PM Cleveland Heights Akron Buchtel John Carroll University

Key Info

What: Cleveland Play by Play Classic

Who: The top boys basketball programs in Northeast Ohio square off in an all-day event

When: Sunday, January 8th

Where: John Carroll University

Cost: $18 (online) or $20 (at the door)

Players to Watch

Players whose names are orange have Player Profile Pages on our site. Parents, fans, and high school coaches can register to "Through the Scope" below!

Team Previews

Akron Buchtel (6-4)

Coach Dent might need to look into changing the team's mascot from the Griffins to the "Nomads" after playing nine of their first 10 games on the road. The team traveled to Las Vegas over winter break to participate in the annual Tarkanian Classic, finishing 2-1 on the trip. The squad then headed to Missouri to take on Vashon, one of the programs out out of St. Louis. Senior Khoi Thurmon (IPFW) and Amire Robinson (Nevada) have led the charge and have received some national recognition after some impressive performances. Buchtel looks to have a redemption season after their Final 4 hopes were cut short a year ago in the Regional Semifinals. 

Brush (2-4)

All four of Brush's losses have been by single-digits, including a 75-70 defeat to Richmond Heights last week at the NEO Youth Elite Christmas Classic. Marlon Barnes, a Pitt commit, has appeared to find his rhythm scoring the basketball as he led the Arcs to a bounce back win over a previously unbeaten Nordonia team. Barnes scored 14 of his game-high 21 points in the second half to lead the way. Junior guard Kaleb Burge, a transfer from Lutheran East, has had some impressive moments for Coach Mason while senior Tyler Williams has controlled the paint. They matchup well with undefeated Brecksville in what should be one of the more competitive games of the day. 

Brecksville (8-0)

The Bees are fresh off a business trip to Tampa, FL where they went 3-0 and won the Nature Coast Tournament championship. Junior guard Luke Skaljac earned tournament MVP for the second year in a row while Chase Garito and Colin Seibert were named to the All-Tournament team. Skaljac has been one of the more efficient scorers and playmakers in the state so far this season, averaging 24.4 PPG while shooting a remarkable 56% from the field. Garito, the big man in the middle, and Taylor DeFloorville are the next two leading scorers for Coach Mehalik's group. Sophomore Brody Ganley has had some flashes and gives the team a much needed secondary ballhandler in the backcourt. 

Cleveland Heights (6-3)

The Tigers fell to Toledo Central Catholic in the finals of the Cactus Jam, a holiday tournament based out of Phoenix, Arizona. Prior to their trip, they handed Lutheran East their first loss of the season in what was a 76-60 win on a neutral floor. Cleveland Heights has an impressive group of senior guards and has picked up major contributions from sophomores Braylyn Irby and Jay'Quan Stubbs. Shemarion Hardy has quickly become one of the more exciting players in the area due to his athleticism and showmanship. Rondelle Pollard and Rayvelle Duncan join Hardy in the backcourt and each bring their own dynamic to the Tigers unique combination of pace and tempo. 

Garfield Heights (5-1)

Garfield's lone loss of the season came by the hands of Chaminade-Julienne on December 17th at the Ohio Play by Play Classic in Columbus. Freshman guard Marcus Johnson was spectacular in that game and carried that momentum into last Tuesday's win over Glenville, earning Game MVP honors. Junior big Deandre Jones has flashed some major upside while seniors Tommie Benn and Germainn Marshall have brought some toughness and grit to the starting lineup. C.J. Little is a talented junior guard with the potential to change the course of the game with his play and athleticism on the defensive end of the floor. 

Gilmour Academy (3-5)

Gilmour had a magical postseason run a year ago and found themselves in the Division 2 title game against Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. It has been a hot-and-cold start to the 2022-23 season for the Lancers but they're coming off of a momentum swinging win against a previously unbeaten Painesville Riverside squad. The senior trio of Adisa Molton, Brandon Rose, and Dorjan Flowers scored 59 of the team's 64 points in a double-digit win. Coach DeCrane and staff have played one of the toughest schedules in the area in hopes of gearing up for another deep run come March.

Imani Christian (2-4)

A small, private school located in Pittsburgh, Imani Christian just 29 boys enrolled in their school, making them the second smallest WPIAL program with a boys basketball team. While they may be small in terms of their enrollment, the team features 6'8 junior Virgil Hall and 6'9 sophomore Alier Maluk who is the 21st best prospect in the country for the 2025 class according to 247 Sports. Coach Omar Foster looks to get their second win over a Northeast Ohio squad after defeating CVCA 65-41 on December 28th. 

Lutheran East (8-1)

The Falcons enter Sunday's event with just one loss and should be well-rested after a much deserved break. The team will have a full week off before their much anticipated matchup with Richmond Heights, NEO Spotlight's pick for "Game of the Night'". Junior Jesse McCulloch (6'9) is joined by sophomore Icare Bakadisula (6'7) and freshman T.J. Crumble (6'8) make up what is the biggest, and most talented, frontcourt in Ohio. Senior Cody Head is having a monster season scoring the basketball and should be the early frontrunner for Division 3 Player of the Year. 

Lutheran West (8-1)

The Longhorns have put fans in Northeast Ohio on notice as we near the midway point of the season. Coach Jordan Duke and company began the season 7-0 and have already knocked off St. Ignatius and Ottawa-Glandorf, two of the state's best in their respective divisions. The backcourt of Jayson Levis, one of NEO Spotlight's breakout juniors, and Derek Fairley have been impressive on both ends of the floor. Junior Kambomba has been a serviceable 3-and-D wing while sophomores Joshua and Matthew Meyer provide the Longhorns with an interior presence. 

Maple Heights (4-4)

The Mustangs are on a three-game winning streak following an overtime win over Anthony Wayne at the Jingle Bell Jam on Friday, December 30th. First year head coach Anthony Burns has his team playing their best ball right now after a rocky start, winning four of their last five. They've received contributions from several players, including junior Mike Lewonski who has been a walking double-double as of late. Senior guard Darius Davis, a transfer from Parma, has proven himself to be one of Northeast Ohio's top scorers over the course of the last year and a half. Sophomore Davion Aniton stands at 6'7 and is a young big oozing with long-term upside. 

Mentor (5-2)

Mentor, who hasn't played in nearly two weeks, has a full plate to kick off the new year as they have two GCC matchups prior to Sunday's game versus St. Ignatius. The junior duo of Ian Ioppolo and Matthew Biddell have combined to score over 40 points per contest and are looking to lead the Cardinals to a 3-0 to start the new year. Sophomore Kobe Frasure-Azzano has chipped in 12.3 PPG thanks to his effort and willingness to get his hands dirty. Both of Mentor's losses this season have been decided by single digits, including a heartbreaking 70-68 loss to Medina back on December 2nd. 

Richmond Heights (9-0)

Last year's state champs in Division 4 are sitting at a perfect 9-0 as they prepare for their toughest game of the season thus far with Lutheran East. The Spartans are loaded with young, blossoming talent and feature one of the state's best backcourts with sophomores De'Erick Barber and Dorian Jones. Both hold several Division 1 offers and the two complement each other well as Barber is a natural lead guard that prefers to set the table for his teammates. Jones, a top 50 recruit, is a wiry athlete in the open floor and a major catch-and-shoot threat. Demaris Winters and Jeremy Wilson are much improved from a year ago, and junior Hosea Steele is as versatile of a defender that you'll find in the area.

Shaker Heights (3-4)

Senior Kellon Smith has stepped up in a major way for Coach Danny Young this season and is averaging over 25 PPG through seven games. Smith, along with sophomore Noah Chambers, have looked to carry the scoring load for one of the area's most consistent programs. Senior Ricardo Johnson is coming off a career night in a 71-53 win over Villa Angela-St. Joseph, finishing with a game-high 30 points. Sunday should be one of the Raiders toughest tests of the year as they face off against Lutheran West in what is the first of seven games on the day. 

St. Ignatius (5-4)

The Wildcats have reached the Division 1 state semifinals in back-to-back seasons but they've gotten off to somewhat of a slow start thanks to an absolute gauntlet of a schedule. After defeating Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 63-62 on Tuesday afternoon, their strenuous week continues as the team will travel to their rival St. Edward on Friday. Junior guard Ace Buckner has been one of the top players in Northeast Ohio this season and the frontcourt tandem of Reece Robinson and Damon Friery has seen an uptick in their production over the last few weeks. Coach Cam Joyce has perhaps the deepest roster in the state and it's only a matter of time before they find their stride. 

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