Monday, November 24, 2014

Friday at the Will Avery Tip-Off Tourney

8:00 P.M.
Laney vs Stephenson

A friend of mine and Augusta hoops fan, Matt Scott, remarked Friday afternoon that if Laney were to finish its first four games with a 1-3 record, coach Buck Harris could claim a moral victory.  The logic makes sense given Saint Francis is one of the country's best teams, Morgan County (this Saturday's opponent) is a defending state champion, and Friday's opponent Stephenson beat Laney last season.  Well, after sweeping two games in the Will Avery Tip-Off tournament, Harris' bunch has a chance to emerge this Saturday with a 3-1 record if they are able to knock off Morgan County at home.

Friday's win over Stephenson was convincing.  The Wildcats took an early lead and never looked back.  After leading 24-8 early in the second quarter, Laney's pressure defense was way too much for the visitors from Atlanta to overcome.  The Wildcats forced turnovers that led to easy transition hoops, seniors Jashawn Brooks and Jalen Taylor electrified the crowd with nifty passes and finishes in the open floor.  And juniors Colin Young and Christian Keeling were impressive on the perimeter and slashing to the basket.  Enjoy the highlights below.  And stay tuned for Saturday's showdown at Laney between two of the southeast's best high school teams.




6:30 P.M.
Butler vs Salem

I have known Butler's Don Coleman since the summer before his freshman year.  And I have gotten to know Coach Cervantes Boddy and most of the Bulldogs since about that time.  The guys have been regulars in the AugBball off-season leagues during the past four years.  So I was proud of the Bulldogs two seasons ago when, after going 4-1 versus the area's two best teams (Laney and Glenn Hills) at the time, Butler emerged as the area's best team.  And I was equally disappointed to see the Bulldogs take a step backwards last season.  So I went to Evans Friday in time for Butler's matchup with Salem for one reason:  to see if the 2014-15 would be as good as their talent dictates.

Coleman and company answered that question with an emphatic yes after an 81-58 beating of Salem. More important than the score was the demeanor of the players.  It was obvious to me that this season's squad is committed to making 1+1 equal 3 by sharing the ball and using all of its weapons.  And the weapons are everywhere, starting on the perimeter with future Florida Atlantic University guard Coleman.  I've never seen Don play as well as he played Friday.  He shot a high percentage from three, he involved teammates, he rebounded, and set the tone for the Bulldogs' fast paced, unselfish style of play.

Coleman is not the team's only threat.  Inside players Ricquail Smoot (6'6" junior) and Will Lambert (6'5" sophomore) rebound and score in the post, in the open court, and on the offensive glass.  And seniors Tyekeith Mclattie and Ben Rhodes can score from all over the court.

I am anxious to see the Bulldogs in action in our area's most competitive region, which also features Laney, Glenn Hills, and Josey.  If Friday's performance foreshadows the future, Butler will not take a backseat to any team in the coming months.  See for yourself here:








3:30 P.M.
Greenbrier vs Thomson

It makes good sense that Greenbrier junior Jakob Nelson was the standout performer in the opening game of the Will Avery Tip-Off Tournament Friday at Evans High School.  Nelson, a long time Avery protege, scored 18 of his 31 points in the game's final 8 minutes and led Greenbrier to a 58-54 win over Thomson.  The Wolfpack improved to 2-1 on the season before Saturday's 1:30 P.M. matchup with Effingham County at Evans High School.

Nelson has started the season with a bang, averaging 22.7 ppg.  Jakob is a throwback of sorts.  He spends a lot of time in the gym working on his shooting, ball handling, and the other important fundamentals.  By comparison, he spends little time in the vans, hotel rooms and all day game play of the AAU scene.  This is a great strategy for rapid improvement and it seems to be paying off.

He is also a well rounded young man who sports a 3.8 GPA and a polite demeanor.  Kudos to Jake and his teammates for a strong rebound after a season opening loss to Harlem.  I look forward to seeing more of the Wolfpack in the coming weeks and months.



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