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.