While icy roads crippled traffic and canceled games back home in Illinois, the East St. Louis Flyers were in sunny Fort Myers, Fla., participating in the 28-team City of Palms Classic high school basketball tournament.
Jeremiah Tilmon had a double-double, and Arthur Carter had a team-high 21 points for East Side, but the Flyers fell to Tampa Catholic, 77-72, in the the first game of the event’s Sunshine Series Friday.
Tilmon, the 6-foot-10 center and five-star prospect who signed to play next season at the University of Illinois, scored 19 points and had 13 rebounds in more than 27 minutes of play.
But Tampa Catholic’s Kevin Knox, an uncommitted five-star recruit, put up 30 points with 12 boards to lead the Crusaders (6-1).
Knox, ranked the No. 7 overall prospect in the nation by Rivals.com, was being watched by Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who attended the game.
Tilmon is ranked as high as No. 19, by Scout.com.
The score was tied six times during the game, and the lead changed hands nine times.
The Flyers fell behind early and trailed Tampa Catholic 36-34 at the half, but rallied to an eight-point lead with 3:44 left in the third quarter.
The Crusaders outscored East Side 25-18 in the fourth quarter to win the game.
East St. Louis shot 47.7 percent from the field, compared to Tampa Catholic’s 44.6 percent on the same number of shots.
However, the Crusaders hit six more shots each from three-point range and from the free-throw line.
Tai Strickland, Tampa’s junior point guard, pitched in 22 points for the Crusaders including 3-of-8 on 3-pointers.
Sophomore Terrence Hargrove Jr. also had a double-double for East St. Louis with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Carter shot 9-of-16 to reach his 21 points.
The City of Palms Classic was started in 1973 and has since hosted 530 players who competed at the NCAA Division-I level and 99 who have played professionally. Among them are 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans and 2010 No. 1 overall pick John Wall.
East St. Louis (6-2) next plays Riverview Gardens, of suburban St. Louis County, in the Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic, one of the premier tournaments in the region.
That game will be played at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 28.