1. Lester Middle (7-0) Big game tomorrow for the Lions with Lowrance coming to Binghampton in a battle for first place in Area 2B. It’s been a while since Lester has been tested so it should be interesting because when your #1, everyone wants to beat you. Tomorrow will be no different.
2. Bellevue Middle (9-0) After winning the MLK, the Bobcats move up the list from 3 to here. They beat a good Havenview team in the championship game and appear to be catching their stride right now.
3. Ridgeway Middle (9-1) The Roadrunners are at home against Highland Oaks on Tuesday who have a few losses on their record but a team that they shouldn’t overlook either as well as Cordova who recently played within 7 points.
4. Germantown Middle (8-1) Will be on the road at Hickory Ridge on Tuesday but a grudge match with #3 Ridgeway is looming, their only loss of the season. That will be a game you want to attend, if you love middle school basketball.
5. Havenview Middle (9-2) Beat #5 Snowden in the MLK tourney by double digits but lost to a good Bellevue team in the finale. With that being said, you must take the Tigers seriously as a contender in Large Schools. “We are an unselfish team that knows we have to play together in order to win” says head coach, Lawrence Myers.
With the MLK going this week, there could be some movement for 2 teams with FACS coming on strong at 5-0 right now and Lowrance Middle, currently undefeated as well.
1. Lester Middle (6-0) Beat Dubois last week and play at Kirby today. I honestly don’t see much trouble on the road for them in the coming weeks.
2. Ridgeway Middle (7-1) Put 3 wins in the column last week over Starkville, Holly Springs and a close victory over Cordova. Best part about close wins, it prepares you for later when its playoff time.
3.Bellevue Middle (5-0) In their first game of the MLK, they scored 75 points, that’s a lot for a middle school team. We could see a Bellevue Snowden game in that but first and foremost, Treadwell today.
4. Germantown (6-1) Had to come back down from 11 to beat Snowden at home. 2 things, Cameron Miller would not let them lose and 2, are the Red Devils the most tested team in the city?
5. Snowden (6-1) Close loss to Germantown but it showed one thing, they are legit if some didn’t think so. Jamarius Brooks has quietly become one of the better guards in the city in the 8th grade.
For years, the MAM Christmas Classic has been a staple in the middle school basketball community in Memphis. Each year, this was the tournament to see the city’s best in Large, Small and Private to see who the best team in the city was overall. It’s usually a good indication of who could win the state as well, seen last year by White Station who won the tournament last year, however, things are about to change, at least for the year.
For the first time in the 8-10 years that I’ve covered the MAM, the best teams in the city will not be in the event but in another first year tournament . Bartlett High School will host a holiday tournament that will have 6 of the top 10 teams in the city. It will be held December 21st-23rd and have the likes of Ridgeway, Lester, Snowden, Germantown, Elmore Park and the Memphis Nighthawks who I’ve heard some good things about from several people. This will be an opportunity for them to show how good they are to those who haven’t seen them as well. St. Ann and Appling will also be in the tournament as well from what I was told and there could be potentially really good games that we see in this event. Possible Lester Ridgeway part 2? Snowden Lester? How about a Memphis Nighthawks and Lester game.? Some are convinced that the Nighthawks could be a good game for them.
Whatever the games maybe, it will be new and something different that fans can look forward to seeing this year. I’m sure, details of the tournament will be coming soon.
1. Lester Middle (2-0) Everyone should be convinced that was in the building on Saturday night. This is the most talented Middle School team in Memphis. There won’t be many close games for this group all season until the MAM or Bartlett tournament around the Christmas holiday. You have to start mentioning Jamarion Harvey as one of the best 7th graders in the city but a bigger statement, Markese might be the best 8th grader in the city. Chauncey Holmes looked as good as I’ve seen him and Lemarkus Wilkerson was a spark despite being in foul trouble on Saturday in their win over Ridgeway.
2. Ridgeway Middle 1-1 How can they be in this spot still? Well it comes down to this, they lost to the best team around, no shame in that and it was 2 point ball game in the 3rd quarter. They also beat my pre-season at the time #3 Germantown. Now that they see somethings to work for going forward, this is still a very good team but they will need to identify their go to scorer in crunch time.
3. Snowden Middle 1-0 You won’t find a team in Memphis 4 good 8th guards and especially as experienced as this group but you have one here . Guards go a long way in Middle School and this team has the ingredients to be successful all year long.
4. Bellevue Middle 1-0 Dangerous team because of their guards, this is a group that their new coach is excited about. AJ Dillworth, Jr Jacobs who had 19 in the opener, Amar Knox and Dustin Richmond will be who they go to in every game. They are on the road tonight and then back at home Wednesday.
5. Germantown Middle 2-1 After a loss to Ridgeway, they were able to get back in the win column last week but this is a team capable of more, a lot more. With the early loss, it could make them hungrier to get back in the convo as a top 2 team again.
Please take notes ladies and gentlemen, a statement was made last night in the Elite Middle School Classic at Bolton High School. The Lester Lions are the best middle school team in the city, bar none and right now, it’s not close. Not saying that they can’t lose because anyone can be beaten but if I were to pencil in anyone this year as a team that could go undefeated, it would definitely be this team.
With a huge crowd in attendance, #1 vs #2 was everything it was billed to be. Both teams matched intensity early on with the game going back and forth with each team not able to get that big run to put it out of reach that you see a lot in middle school games. It looked at one moment like Ridgeway was about to go up 7-8 points but Lester behind the heroics of Jamarion “Woody” Harvey who hit some huge shots to stay close and go up 34-32 to end the 3rd quarter. Lester’s Markese Washington hit a 3 but Kris “Chip” Brunt answered him with a bucket plus the foul with 5:29 left in the last quarter to make it 37-35. After though, Lester took control going on a 13-5 run that ended with pretty reverse by guard Chauncey Holmes and a 3 by Harvey to put them up 10.
Ridgeway had opportunities but they traded baskets and couldn’t get enough stops down double digits late but a lot of that was due to Lester’s length and ability to challenge everything at the basket. Lester showed their depth, perseverance and the ability to rely on different players when they needed to score. Markese Washington was every where for Lester. I stopped counting but I know he had at least 16 rebounds to go with double digits in points. He scored in a variety of ways , had 3-4 impressive blocks and flashed why he might be the best player in middle school. I know the consensus is Chandler Jackson and he’s super talented but for those who don’t know, Markese is nipping on his heels. Every player from the starters to the bench seemed to have an impact in some facet of the game.
Ridgeway will still be tough in Large School and shouldn’t in any way hold their heads down. Lester’s the #1 team in the city and with a win over at the time, #3 Germantown, they still are among the better teams in the city and this too, it’s very early in the season. There were some bright spots from them in EJ Smith who showed some toughness, along with Kristian Spencer. I think when they needed bucket, they just didn’t have enough weapons to be able to keep up with a team like Lester and more than likely, they won’t play a team like them again.
Lester showed why they are who they are and are clear cut favorites in Small Schools at this time.
We are 3 days and counting away from what has become of the best middle school events in the city, the “Elite Middle School Classic” . This year, the classic has moved to Bolton High School and features 9 games this year which will begin at 9:00 am with 2 girls games. With several of the city’s top teams and talent, this has become a must see if your a middle school fan and looking for indicators of who might be the teams to watch this season.
Judging by the talent, this year maybe the best in terms of match-ups according to the teams and features a few teams from outside of Memphis including, Blytheville (Arkansas) who will play against Elmore Park in the boys opener at 12:00.
Individually, the talent will be tremendous and those in attendance will get a chance to see from Southaven (Johnny Ruffin), Highland Oaks (Regale Moore) and Josh Holloway, both in the 2023 class, FACS who maybe the best team that no one is talking about much in the area with Tim Thomas Jr, Kobe Wilkes, Corey Savage and Landon Jeffries. Lester’s Marquise Washington, Lemarkus Wilkerson (2023), Chauncey Holmes, Jamarion Harvey (2023) and 2024 6’1 Khylan Page who might be the best 6th grade prospect in Memphis. Ridgeway has a very talented group of guards and players who have a lot of experience in big games from last year. EJ Smith (2023) is one of the top 5 players in the city in that class followed by Chris “Chip” Brunt, 5’11 Kristian Spencer who is coming off an arm injury but should be able to go on Saturday and a really good 6th grade class with Javion Stephen and Cody Hickerson.
The showcase game or the “Main Event” as called by event coordinators will be one to watch. The team I designated as my #1 team in the city will square off against #2 Ridgeway who’s looking to make a name in this game. Some I’ve heard feel like Ridgeway should be number 1 and believe me, they can probably make a case and are most definitely looking for the upset on Saturday evening. They are deep and can throw 9 or 10 at you and really not lose a lot offensively or defensively.
All in all, it should be a quality event as always and one that could determine whether we have a new #1 next week or not.
Lester vs Kate Bond – 9:40 a.m. Kate Bond normally has nice team and I would bank on that again this year. Lester’s girls will have their work cut out for them in this one
PCA vs Munford- 10:40 a.m. PCA lost a lot of talent last year and probably will be in rebuild mode.
Blytheville Arkansas vs Elmore Park– 12:00 p.m Been hearing some good things about Elmore Park so far and now it’s time for the good things to turn into reality for them.
Fayette East vs Havenview 1:30 Fayette East from sources will be a team that plays hard while Havenview returns a few players from last year’s team including Emerson Tenner, a 7th grader who will be better this season.
Bolivar vs PCA 2:45 PCA will be extremely young this year but have more talent than last season. 6th grade guard Marlon Mcshane will probably be relied upon a lot in his first season.
St. George vs Northpoint (MS) 4:00 Northpoint has some young players coming up but not sure if they allow their 7th graders to play on the 8th grade team there. St.George always seems to be competitive, why not this year as well…
Southaven vs Highland Oaks 5:15 Getting to the pretty games now at this stage on Saturday. Southaven has a pretty big team from what I’ve heard. They will probably be led by Johnny Ruffin who can swing to the guard spot if necessary. Highland Oaks will be relying upon 2 young guards in Regale Moore and Josh Holloway. I will say this again, Holloway’s progression as more of pass first pg will be big for them. Moore has to be a consistent scorer but he has that ability to do so.
FACS vs Colonial 6:30 FACS quiet as it’s kept might be top 5 team on paper. At the point, Kobe Wilkes or you can interchange him and Landon Jeffries who can also play that spot, Corey Savage, one of the best middle school shooters and 3-4 Tim Thomas who you can put on the other team’s best offensive player and slow him down. Colonial has a few pieces but are still looking for that consistent leader. Jacquez Brown or Cedric Franklin could be that but one way to find out will be against a good team like FACS.
Lester vs Ridgeway 7:30 In the headline game of the event, this game will determine a lot of things. For one, Lester looks legit in every way, they are long, versatile at 2-3 spots and have maybe the best player in Middle School. On the other hand, they haven’t seen a team as talented as Ridgeway in a scrimmage this year and they haven’t been tested just yet. That might just be testament of how talented they are but like they say, the game is played on the floor so it’s time to see what this team is really capable of becoming.
Ridgeway will be coming in looking for respect and I don’t blame them. I had a hard time putting them at #3 and after watching them in a scrimmage, I thought again, maybe I was wrong but their chance is on Saturday. Again, I think their depth, guard play and ability to defend will be what determines the game. I think they are on par with Lester in terms of talent and with the hit of Lester losing a player who could have helped them, it will make them more susceptible especially in a game of this magnitude. This game will be big for them in terms of how people see this year’s team and I think it’s one that has a chance to be right there in
On the campus of the Lausanne Lynx this past weekend, fans got a chance to see some the better teams in middle school go head to head and also find out who to watch individually this season. With the season 2-3 weeks away for most, these scrimmages are key in seeing rotations, who they count and who will lead by example for coaches. At the same time, it’s new for the 6th graders, a different year and more expectations for some 7th graders like Highland Oaks’ guard Josh Holloway and Regale Moore and for 8th graders, a time to lead and be focal points of their teams.
Due to a prior engagement, I wasn’t able to attend the early games to see Bellevue, coming off another state title and looking for the 4-peat this season but it will be hard this year because of who they have to contend with . I think Terrance “Jr” Jacobs is up for it but will see share of double teams and trap defenses this year to get the ball out of his hands. Who I had a chance to see, Germantown, Lester, Mt.Pisgah, Highland Oaks and Colonial, all showed somethings to be excited about this year at their respective schools
Let’s start with with Colonial, they will be led at the point by Jacquez Brown and have some talent in Cedric Franklin Jr, Courtney Carter, 6’0 Marreco Warren who will be counted on heavily inside and guards Avion Veasley and Antonyus Moore. They were in the game early against a a really talented Germantown team early but their inexperience cost them late. I think once Coach Franklin puts his signature stamp of defense on this team, they will be much improved from last year but need someone to be a counted on scorer for them as well.
Mt. Pisgah was a team who was in the Final 4 last year in the state sectional but Coach Garner was really impacted by 8th graders who are now in high school but should be solid nonetheless. They are really guard heavy so they will all have to gang rebound and be really active on defense putting pressure on the ball to generate turnovers. Lowrance is another team that should be better this year with Braxton Jumper who can play the point but will more than likely be off the ball and the improving play of Javar Daniels, a 6’2 7th grader who’s getting better around the rim with his touch and becoming a better out of his area rebound. You can’t teach his length at this age or his effort.
Coach Mark Freeman will have young guards to count and its definitely good for the future because he has them for 2 more years but will have their share of ups and downs. I think Regale Moore could make the single biggest jump of improvement this year of any 7th grader in the city. He was able to get his shot off from all over and hit the 3 on multiple occasions and he’s capable ball handler and has the look of an athletic big 2 guard in the future. He has a nice release point on his jumper and attacked in the half court as well. He will more than likely lead them in scoring and point guard Josh Holloway was solid looking to distribute. In the past, I’ve seen him be more of score first type but he seems to be trying to make the move to more of traditional style point guard. I think in that role, he could do really well and for them to be successful, they will have to find another guard or forward to help be 2nd or 3rd scorer for them on game night.
Germantown and Lester, I liked what I saw in both teams and you can make an argument that maybe Germantown could be the best team in Middle School right now and they don’t have their full team yet. Two are out for football, one who could be their best player and likely will be (Cam Miller) and 8th grade guard, Rayquan Williams who will be in a key role for them. They are also without Cartier Beverly who most know as one of the premiere guards in the city in 8th grade, due to injury but if they get him back, no doubt in my mind, they could easily be the best team in the city.
Deshun Dunn was all over the player displaying super motor on the glass as a rebounder but also a scorer muscling his way to rim for easy buckets. Dunn will affect every game and will be an absolute load for everyone they play as opponents as a defender as well being able to guard probably every position on the floor. Chris Martin, their floor stretcher is back in lead role and could see some ball handling duty early on with Jhamal Ross, a solid point guard who must be able to run the show with Beverly out. Daniel Egunbinwe was one of the better players I saw on Saturday, hitting the trail 3 and getting to the rim off the dribble better than I’ve seem from him over the years. He looks about 6’1 right now and will be able to be mismatch at his position in any game that they play. I think he has a new found confidence on the perimeter and it will play dividends this year. I really think that once they get their full team which will include Beverly if he’s able to get back, they maybe the best team talent wise that you will find in the area.
Lester right now is my pre-season #1 and they showed some flashes of why. They started a bit slow against Highland Oaks but got up 19 in the second half with the first group which consisted of Marquise Washington, Chauncey Holmes, Devin Jackson, Jamarion Harvey and Lemarkus Wilkerson. They will put so much pressure on teams defensively running and jumping, pressing and they will be able to do it because they are deep and from what their head coach told me, they were missing 2 guys who will be in reserve roles.
They could theoretically play 9-10 players most games and not drop off much. Wilkerson will be their catalyst on defense playing the passing lanes while also showing the ability to put up numbers as scorer in transition or in the half court. Washington’s approach looks different this year, he moves different and becoming the focal point can do that and he will show this year why he could be considered a top 3 player in middle school this year. Chauncey Holmes is a long 6’0 guard maybe 6’1 who will be versatile for Coach Terrell, able to play with the ball at the 2 spot 3 spot and some 4 depending on who they playing against. Devin Jackson will also be a contributor as well and could lead them in scoring some games as well. Expect 6th grade Khylan Page to play a lot to with the second group but speaking of Page, he could be the best 6th grader in the city right now. He just has that look of a future 6’8.
All in all, the excitement is starting to build for the approaching middle school season and it should be fun one to watch…