Stars shine early at Nike TOC

Chris Coduto/Icon SMI

South Carolina signee Bianca Cuevas helped lead Nazareth (N.Y.) past Carondelet (Calif.) on Thursday in the first round of the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix.

We already knew the 2013 Nike Tournament of Champions featured some great players and some great teams. Great games? You can check that one off the list now, too. Here's a recap of some of the Day 1 highlights.

Game of the Day

Circled on just about everybody's draw sheet was Thursday's first-round matchup between Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), the No. 1 team in the espnW 25 Power Rankings and the defending champion at the Nike Tournament of Champions, and Homewood-Flossmoor (Ill.), the No. 5 team in the espnW 25. The teams put on a show that more than justified the ink.

Behind 38 points from Katie Lou Samuelson, including a basket with about a minute to go, Mater Dei rallied for a 62-61 win. Samuelson, the undeclared No. 2 prospect in the espnW Super 60 for the 2015 class, also went 16 for 17 from the free throw line and added 14 rebounds.

Amarah Coleman, an Illinois signee and the No. 81 prospect in the 2014 class, was fabulous in the open floor for Homewood-Flossmoor. Getting to the rim on a consistent basis, the 5-foot-10 point guard kept Homewood-Flossmoor's upset bid alive until the game's final seconds.

Stars of the Day

Bianca Cuevas, Nazareth (N.Y.): The flashy 5-6 point guard from New York dropped 30 points on Carondelet (Calif.) in a first-round matchup in the Blue Division. The South Carolina signee and the No. 44 prospect in the 2014 class, Cuevas helped Nazareth rebound from a double-digit deficit in the first half and hold on for a 71-64 victory.

McKynzie Fort, Etiwanda (Calif.): The 5-9 point guard and Oregon signee scored 27 points and provided a whole lot of leadership in a win over Cleveland (Wash.) in the Blue Division. Next up for Etiwanda is a clash with Cuevas and Nazareth.

Ayanna Clark, Long Beach Poly (Calif.): The undeclared 6-1 freshman phenom was a force on all parts of the floor and led the No. 6 Jackrabbits to a 50-48 overtime win over No. 10 Regis Jesuit (Colo.) in the Joe Smith Division.

Rising to the Occasion

Jessica Lewis, Regis Jesuit (Colo.): The 5-9 point guard did everything a coach could ask for in Regis Jesuit's heartbreaker against Long Beach Poly. Lewis was a stabilizing backcourt performer, hit the 3, handled and read pressure and gave her team valuable possessions.

Day 2 Outlook

California teams showed their domination in Day 1, setting up a couple of Friday gems in the Joe Smith Division. No. 1 Mater Dei will take on St. Mary's (Berkeley), which beat No. 18 Christ the King (N.Y.) 56-50 in the first round. St. Mary's features Cal-bound stars Mikayla Cowling and Gabby Green. The other semifinal features Long Beach Poly against St. Mary's (Stockton), an 89-62 winner over No. 7 Riverdale Baptist (Md.) on Day 1.

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