"It's All About The Game"
NHSI First Day Play
St. Benedict's 67 Blanche Ely 61
Early on Blanche Ely (FL) rolled up a sizeable lead via pick and roll and two man game action; using their talented senior swingman Clide Geffrard (18 points, seven rebounds) and classmate, point guard Benji Bell (nine points, eight rebounds, seven assists), coach Melvin Randall's team enjoyed an eight point, halftime lead. Unfortunately for them, it quickly became a deficit, as St. Benedict's (NJ) outscored them by nine in the third, three in the fourth, to pull out a 67-61 win.
St. Benedict's did it by taking away what was working - settling on man to man defense, hedging aggressively on pick and roll, and fronting the post on two man game sets, thereby greatly reducing Blanche Ely's half court effectiveness. The second half saw Blanche Ely shoot 29.6% from the field, down from the first stanza's 57.7%. The lack of fastbreak buckets factored into that statistic, but the team's half court struggles were central.
Benji Bell (22), here guarded by Isaiah Briscoe, was a second half, defensive focal point for St. Benedict's.
Randall commented on St. Benedict's defense, "They recovered well on pick and roll. They played great defense, they took away some of our options, and they did well". Geffrard identified "a lot of help side defense. They kept switching and rotating men" in slowing him down in the second stanza.
St. Benedict's got double figures from a quartet of players: Senior Melvin Johnson (17 points, seven rebounds), 14 points apiece from a pair of juniors in guard Tyler Ennis and Isaiah Watkins (who also pulled down 14 rebounds), plus freshman guard Isaiah Briscoe's 11 points. The team shot 39.4% for the game - less overall than Blanche Ely (30-3), but a rebounding edge of 44-32 nullified that.
Player Spotlight: Clide Geffrard
A swingman who can drive, shoot and at times post, Geffrard is a difficult cover, standing 6'6" and 210 pounds. Going forward Clide must tighten his handle, thereby allowing him to consistently create his own shot.
Having just received his ACT score, expect more schools other than Iona, Bethune-Cookman and NJIT to offer. Currently, East Tennessee, Charleston Southern, Florida Gulf Coast and Buffalo have expressed interest.
In terms of his final choice, Clide shared "I like to play fast" and "I'll go wherever it's a good choice for me".
Coolidge (DC) was upbeat coming into this, the final game of NHSI boy's first round action. This, despite being the event's eighth slotted team, their foe, Findlay, it's first. Trailing just 18-12 at first quarter's end, Coolidge (29-7) was in definite striking range. Unfortunately for Vaughn Jones' team, they were outscored 12 points in the second quarter, eight in the third and nine in the fourth, producing their 79-44 defeat at Findlay Prep's (NV) hands.
What did Jones attribute his team's loss to?
At halftime and facing a 43-25 hole, he told i95Ballerz.com the number one issue was "Right now, we're getting beat on the glass...We're minus 18 rebounding the ball, and that's the difference right now". For the game, Findlay, a much bigger and longer team walked away with a 60-29 carom advantage.
Nijee Britton surprised many with his play against Findlay Prep.
Findlay also focused defensively on Coolidge's dynamic scorer, junior guard DeShaun Mormon, holding the left handed slasher to five points, primarily by taking away his strongest hand (the left) on drives, and hedging hard on pick and roll times, plus providing a lot of help periodically and also forcing him baseline at other times; in short, they threw the kitchen sink at him.
Senior guard Khalen Cumberlander, headed to Central Conneticut State, finished with 13 points for Coolidge. A bright spot was the play of sophomore forward Nijee Britton, who came off the bench to score eight points.
Findlay placed four in double figures, led by senior forward Anthony Bennett's 23 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Dominic Artis had 12 points, five rebounds and three assists, while classmate, forward Winston Shepard, contributed 12 points and nine boards.
Coolidge shot 25% for the game, Findlay 42.6%.
"It ballooned out of control" summed Jones, still hurt by the game's outcome. "It was a tough way to end a good year". Though he bemoaned the final score, Jones earlier waxed philosophically, saying "At the end of the dam, a loss is a loss".
A 5'10", 160 pound point guard, Roberts' statline of four points and two assists doesn't turn many heads. But put this game to the side, as the floor leader normally can be counted on for jump shots, drop offs and the occasional at-the-rim finish. He has learned, and embraced the lead guard role.
Mt. St. Mary's and Florida Gulf Coast have shown some interest. With greater strength and a good showing on the travel circuit with VA Assault, Roberts will have options come next season.
Friday's boy's action:
Friday's girl's action:
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