Monday, February 16, 2015

Laney's Zep Jasper Defends: Frame by Frame

Jasper appears to be beaten here.  But
his coach's instructions not to let Gray
"get to his left" are surely in his mind.
I got the opportunity to coach again Saturday. Just for a moment.  After shaking hands with Laney's Junior point guard Zep Jasper hours before he was to draw the unenviable task of checking the hottest player coming into Saturday's region championship game (Washington County's AJ Gray) I reflexively gave him my only advice.  "You better take advantage of almost every foot of the 94 feet long court because the few feet around the basket are going to belong to him," I instructed.  Gray made "Dirk-like" fall aways and 18 foot pull up jumpers with hands in his face all week.  When a player with his size and skill is able to make those kinds of shots, there is not much a defender can do.

Zep has almost recovered.  I see coach
Buck has taught him what he taught his old 
"Metros:" How to use the inside forearm!
After AJ continued his lights out shot making throughout the first half of Saturday's region championship game, Jasper began to wear him down by denying him the ball all over the court in the second.  I am tempted to believe I helped him focus his thoughts on this task.  But the truth is Jasper has employed this strategy successfully all season against the state's best guards. Tookie Brown (Morgan County), Jared Harper (Pebblebrook), Don Coleman (Butler), Darius Williams (Josey), Tre Hansbrough (Buford), and Gray are a few.  And the further truth is that, as is usually the case, Zep's coach Buck Harris has everything to do with the point guard's preparation.

The state's best two way guard finished
the job.  He has had a great season!
I recall Buck recently saying "when AJ gets to his left hand, it's over."  The photo sequence (right) shows Jasper making certain he keeps Gray from getting to his left hand on a second half drive to the basket Saturday.  Zep obviously listens well.  Certainly to Buck.  And possibly to me.  After all, Zep made Gray stop short of the paint, the area I predicted AJ would own.  Kudos to the guy who has to be the best two way point guard we will see playing high school basketball this season, Laney's Zep Jasper.

***This post was inspired by the (what I think are) cool action pictures I caught during Saturday's region championship game.  Here are links to four posts from last week, which include my thoughts and four "Championship Week" episodes.  Laney and Washington County's paths to the region championship game, and much more, are featured in these episodes.***

Championship Week (Episode 4):  Laney's Boys and Girls Sweep Region Championships

Championship Week (Episode 3):  Laney vs Josey; WACO vs Butler and more

Championship Week (Episode 2):  Josey vs Glenn Hills; WACO vs Westside; GRU vs Flagler

Championship Week (Episode 1):  Augusta Christian vs Hammond; Lakeside vs Greenbrier

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