First I'll state the obvious: Reggie Reid is not Lebron James. No one is. James is one of the best basketball players ever. But because Reggie has come home for his senior year to a school that, like the NBA's Cavs, traditionally has struggled to win, I can't help but draw a parallel.
The Bulldogs' start (6-0) to the season has so far been much better than James' Cavs (9-7). Predictably, Reid has led the way and sported a crazy stat line: 25.7 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 9.7 apg, 56% FG, and 87% FT. The most recent win completed a two-game season sweep over Lakeside. Playing from behind for much of the game, Reid and fellow senior Torrien Beard led a furious fourth quarter comeback Tuesday at home that erased a 10 point Panther lead. Reid’s 35 points led the way for the Bulldogs. Beard added 16, and Steven St Clair chipped in 10 for Harlem. Lakeside’s leading scorers were Kresean Hall (18), Jake Gilbert (16), and BJ Raymond (15). Harlem has won all five games against its Columbia County foes this season, and the Bulldogs will have a chance to complete a season sweep of Greenbrier this Friday at home.
Breakdown: Harlem vs Lakeside (Dec 2)
Keeping with the “Reggie-Lebron” theme, I’ll say that like James, Reggie’s athleticism is truly exceptional when compared to his peers. The difference was glaring Tuesday. The official stats say he grabbed 13 rebounds, but there were stretches, specifically the end of the second quarter, when he seemed to take everything off the defensive glass, lead a one man break and rebound his own misses on the offensive end until he finished or got to the foul line. In fact, his offensive game didn’t look very crisp by his standards. But he was able to bully defenders, quickly getting Lakeside’s center Jake Gilbert into foul trouble, and eventually fouling him out (albeit on one or more highly questionable foul calls).
Because he is so good, Reggie is the center of attention when Harlem plays. And because I am a coach at heart, I can’t help “coaching (silently in my head!)” him while I watch him. During most of the first half Tuesday I wondered why he wasn’t more aggressive, why he didn’t challenge defenders virtually every time down the court, why he seemed so willing to let the offense run through teammates. This is the same thing I wonder at times when watching James play. But even though I have played and coached the game my entire life, I have no idea what it is like to be so physically gifted. So my eyes see the kind of athleticism and power that seemingly cannot be stopped. And those eyes are focused much of the time in a game like Tuesday’s on Reggie. It may be taxing on an 18 year old to start the season 6-0, average a triple-double, lead a come-from-behind win while scoring 35 points and have guys like me scrutinize his every step! But at the same time, I bet Reggie is having the time of his life nonetheless. I sure hope so!
But Tuesday’s game was hardly all about Reid. I’ll return to his teammates later. Lakeside, playing in only their second game, showed some encouraging signs. Gilbert is as good a pure center as I’ve seen this season. He establishes post position and is active on the offensive boards. He doesn’t waste motion and keeps the ball high when he gets it off the glass or from a teammate. He has a nice shooting touch around the basket and at the foul line. And he blocked and changed many shots on the defensive end. We’ll never know if Harlem would have erased the 63-53 lead Lakeside held when Gilbert fouled had that not happened. But I do believe his presence on both ends was the single biggest reason for Lakeside’s success, and for their downfall after his exit.
As with all true post players, Gilbert’s success is partly dependent on the guards who do or don’t deliver him the basketball in good positions. Veteran point guard BJ Raymond fills this role nicely. He is patient and deliberate in executing Coach Jody Hilley’s probable game plan of exploiting the team’s size advantage. And he is also a gamer, which he showed during the second half, aggressively attacking the basket in the second half, attacking the offensive glass, and recovering loose balls to save sure Harlem baskets.
While Lakeside’s seniors Gilbert and Raymond provide experience and consistency, sophomore Krasean Hall is quickly developing into a solid contributor on the offensive end. Hall can put the ball in the basket, which is much easier said than done. He has a soft touch. He scores off the dribble and occasionally from deep. He also has a knack for getting to the foul line, where he makes a good percentage of his tries (5-6 Tuesday). With Gilbert anchoring the paint, Raymond’s leadership, and Hall’s wing play, I look for Lakeside to be in good position when the region schedule begins.
But the early season action has belonged to Harlem, at least in Columbia County. Along with Reid, I have been very impressed with Beard’s play. He passes the eye test with flying colors. He plays with a lot of confidence and always looks in rhythm, whether he is stepping into an open three, driving to the basket and finishing in any number of ways, or crashing the offensive glass. Some of his baskets kept Harlem within reach Tuesday. The Bulldogs also have two capable outside shooters in St Clair, whose 10 points Tuesday was a season high, and Dakota Madigan, whose mental toughness and feel for the game I particularly like.
In January these teams will enter their respective region schedules. Both have a chance to make serious noise. I plan to be there for my fair share of the action.
***Here are some posts from the past about Harlem, Reggie Reid, Torrien Beard, and Lakeside’s Kresean Hall***
Nov 14, 2014
Reid Leads Harlem to Season Opening Road Win
Nov 7, 2014
Welcome Back, Mr. Reid
July 11, 2014
Reid Impressive in his Return
Dec 21, 2012
Grovetown @ Harlem (Triple OT Thriller!)
Dec 15, 2012
Evans vs Harlem Boys (Live)
Nov 1, 2012
Lakeside Middle Defeats Columbia Middle
Jan 26, 2012
Harlem's Reid is a Dynamic Player
Dec 11, 2011
Reggie Reid has a Bright Future at Harlem
- by Ashley Brown in the Columbia News Times