Can Lester Make It 3 In A Row?
Not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, everybody knows the Lebron James and Miami Heat proclamation when they first got together but former NBA all everything (Penny Hardaway) and now Mr.Everything in the league have something in common, a chance at a 3 peat. Of course it’s nothing alike but come every year teams going on repeating championships have different obstacles that they must climb. Like last year, well this team couldn’t be as good as the year before with Robert Washington and Reggie Green. No chance right? Try another year with only 1 loss and another state title and the questions again, not possible, this time with some saying Lester isn’t even the best team in Small Schools right now after losing so much last year. Well, they are undefeated early on once again and looking like a team capable of another title run but it starts with two people at the helm of the team, Hardaway and Desmond Merriwether.
Both are in their 3rd years together, the correlation between all the titles and with that said, the best staff in middle school basketball in the city. Hardaway puts his players in positions to succeed and Merriwether is the heart and soul behind the Lions. Personnel wise, take the lead Alex Lomax, the team’s best player and ultimately a player who could decide how far they go this season. Lot of pressure? Perhaps but Lomax must be up to the task as right now he is the best pg in middle school and possibly it’s best player in the city. Along with him, transfers Reco Gibson, who was a starter at Sherwood last year gives them some length and some ability to score from the 3-4 spots on the floor along with Kameron Jones. a 6’0 forward, 5’8 guard Laquincy Parker, a quick pg who gives them another ball handler who is still adjusting at Lester but could be key down the stretch run of the season and big man, literally big, John Wrister. Wrister is a huge presence who takes up space, rebounds in his area and has a knack for stick backs. He’s made some nice strides since the summer with Team Penny but he along with aforementioned Parker could be key to their 3 peat if they are able to do so.
Lester is not the juggernaut of the last two years but whatever you do, do not count them out, the coaching is too good, the pg is the best in the city and Lester will be hard to beat come playoff time.
Coach Desmond Merriwether (The Heart And Soul Of Lester)
Alex "ALO" Lomax (Lester Middle PG)
Taylor Brown and Sky Forrest (Cordova) Defending Avant Blueitt (White Station)
With the hawk outside and I’m not talking about Atlanta’s NBA team, fans filled White Station Middle in a battle of my #1 and #2 teams in the city to see for now, who’s the best? White Station, led by Trey Davis, Braxton Winford and Calvin Temple or Cordova’s extremely talented and big team but young. Well for most part, it went as though I thought it would, both teams came out intense from the jump and White Station threw the first blow of the game, jumping up 12-3 early before White Station quickly countered with a 10-0 run of their own and were immediately back in the ball game. 7th grader Ryan Dortch hit a 3 and 6’2 Braxton Winford who was big early but was saddled with his 2nd foul in the second quarter with 2:54 remaining as the Spartans found themselves down 1, 26-25 at the half. 8th grade G/F CJ Garner got an and 1 to go as Station went up 2 but it was two treys, one by Calvin Temple who I thought played well and another by Sky Forrest who had a team 22 points to end the 3rd that really got the crowd excited about what the 4th would be like.
Joe Cooper who had 17 points and 6 helpers found Forrest for a basket to make 46-41 with 4:30 left. The thing that I thought couldn’t happen for them happened though with 4:30 left in the game when Winford fouled out and another thing started to happen too for White Station, key turnovers. 3 in a row led a run that made it 51-43 but White Station wasn’t done fighting just yet. Another and 1 by Garner and a steal by Trey Davis cut it to 56-52 but every time it seemed as though White Station might inch closer late, there was another 2 points added by Cordova’s DJ Jeffries who had 17 points and 13 rebounds and Cooper found Forrest to end it for another 2 points plus the free one as Cordova got a key win, their second one of the season, 68-59.
I thought Sky Forrest played really well for Cordova, he didn’t what was needed, he defended and made scoring plays. After Temple’s 3 in the 3rd, he came right behind him in what I thought was a momentum swing for Cordova going into the 4th quarters. White Station turned it over a few times in the 4th as well and as most know, you can’t turn it over against a good team, especially one with the talent of Cordova as they will make you pay for your mistakes. White Station had opportunities I thought but when Winford went down, I knew it would be tougher to pull out the win against Cordova but White Station is still 6-1 and a very good team. Great game by two teams who could see each other down the stretch run of the season.
Sky Forrest 6'1 (Cordova Middle) Game High 22 Points.
Cordova Has The #1 In The City
Braxton Winford And The Spartans Are #2 In 901PrepScoop's Top 5
1 VS 2
In this early season match up, this is the most highly anticipated game of the young season thus far. 1 vs 2 in my middle school top 5, guard play vs guard play, former Tiger versus former Tiger (Coach Mcclain and Coach Newsome). Cordova’s young but experienced youth features 4 7th grader starters versus 5 8th grade starters for White Station. Cordova made it to the state sectionals last year, White Station was a game away last year setting up for what we will see tomorrow, the city’s two best teams, for the chance to say, who has the best team in the city, albeit, early.
What are the keys for both teams if they must win? For Cordova, keep Trey Davis from getting going early, scoring the ball, don’t let Calvin Temple get going from 3 and keep an athletic, strong Braxton Winford off the boards and scoring inside. All those things though, easier said than done though over 24 minutes of basketball. Point guard Joe Cooper must be careful of picking up fouls early where he will be forced to sit for any length of time. Davis will be the best pg that he has played against thus far and also must be careful of getting into a one on one battle with him. DJ Jeffries who can play 2 or 3 spots for Cordova will have opportunities along with Shemar Brown to attack Winford and they must do that to force them to have to go small or young by bringing in Rodney Mason (White Station) a talented but young 6th grader. If Cordova plays some zone, they must block out Winford when the ball is shot to keep him off the offensive glass but also close out when 3 pointers are shot. Sky Forrest, a 6’1 guard who can knock shots and must do so in this game but another player who could have a good game if not taken notice of, Taylor Brown, a 5’11 forward who will be relied upon for defense and rebounding. If Cooper is on his game, Cordova will be hard to beat and his teammates along with himself have been in big games time and time again. If he’s hampered by early foul trouble, they are much more vulnerable to a good White Station team who will be very amped up at their home gym.
For White Station, off Cordova’s press, they must score easy points and do not turn the ball over, I repeat, do not turn the ball over. Cordova thrives off turnovers and if not careful, before White Station will be able to break a sweat, they will be down 6-10 points off the press. Much like Davis, Cooper will be the best pg that he has faced, Trey must make opportunities for his teammates to score. He must defend well, he must make his teammates better and be the point guard instead of “points’ guard. He can do, he an extremely talented player who I could be a nice pg on the next level and beyond. He’s a top 5 guard in middle, this is the game to show and possibly show that he’s the best pg in middle school.
Calvin Temple is new to the middle school scene in Memphis, well at least playing during the regular season here. I’ve heard it time and time, he’s the best shooter in 2018 in the city, well, let’s see it but to many misses could lead to long rebounds and transition points for Cordova. Avant Blueitt is a player who’s undervalued locally. He will be a vital part if they win because of his ability to defend and score as well. He could draw defending Cooper or another reserve guard for White Station, Cheran Taylor. Winford’s athleticism and strength are his how you say, strengths , both of those attributes will give Cordova trouble. He must be careful not to pick up cheap fouls either. If he’s a double double guy, like 15 and 15 type game and not let Cordova’s bigger line up control the glass, I think it gives White Station a slight edge inside. CJ Garner must also be able to keep Brown and Jeffries from going crazy inside. He’s tough but undersized however, he is strong enough to hold his own. Another key for White Station might be Kevon Woodley and point Ryan Dortch who both will be in he second unity. Winford cannot be in foul trouble at all other wise they have to bring in a talented big but young Rodney Mason, a 6th grader. This game could go either way, youthful experience vs older experience? Turnovers be the key for White Station? One way to see it all, tomorrow night, White Station Middle, 6:15.
Can Coach Mcclain Get The Upset?