The unofficial official start to the high school basketball
season is what I have dubbed the Liberty Play Day.
For four years now, I have ventured down to Jackson
to catch a glimpse of some of the hottest teams in the state as they begin
their quest for the Gold Ball and the Murphy Center.
This year was another strong field featuring the likes of
Beech, Ridgeway, Liberty Tech, Bolivar Central, Jackson Southside, Southwind, Covington, Craigmont and Union City.
New faces, old familiar ones and some interesting
developments highlighted the day on Saturday for everyone in attendance.
Beech made some serious inroads to a very successful
2009-2010 campaign with impressive showings throughout the day. Reece Chamberlain (Beech) is simply in
a class by himself when it comes to game management and court savvy. The 6'2
senior is a rock of consistency and always and I repeat always seems to be in
the right place at the right time. John
Taylor (Beech) was the beneficiary from some of those sweet dimes from
Chamberlain and the rising senior was powerful on the glass.
Beech gave many of the West Tennessee
teams their first look at Coach Joines' vaunted 1-3-1 defense. Beech had
several young players contribute to their weekend success including Valentino Bryant (Beech), Seth Brown
(Beech), Toby Lee (Beech) and Matthew Johnson (Beech).
One of the better games of the day was an intense battle
between Beech and Memphis Ridgeway. Rising sophomore Cameron Golden (Ridgeway) was "en fuego" from the outside with his
quick, pretty lefty stroke. Depth proved key for the Roadrunners throughout the
day as went deep into their bench.
(Ridgeway) had his moments blocking some shots and getting prepared for a
big time senior season. The wings were outstanding for Coach Henning with Marterrance Brock (Ridgeway), Kris Brewer
(Ridgeway) and Coreion Pearson (Ridgeway) providing both inside and outside
scoring. Darryl Marshall (Ridgeway) was
very active from the point and was the dealer on most of Super Golden's crisp
Craigmont was without the services of Cedric McAfee (Craigmont) and Terrence Durham (Craigmont), yet got
some inspired play from 6'4 senior post Ed
Bruce (Carigmont) and senior transfer Brandon
Roberts (Craigmont). Roberts was a scoring machine in the Chiefs third game
scoring off the dribble or draining some nice outside jumpers, look for him to
have a very productive season.
Feisty and with absolutely no quit in their hearts, Jackson
Southside had an impressive showing in their games on Saturday. Corey Weddle (Jackson Southside) was
solid running the team and scoring in transition, Josh Clay (Jackson Southside), fresh out of a football loss on
Friday night, was the heart and soul of this team, playing tough defense and
showing a fearless attitude. Leland
Robinson (Jackson Southside) is one of Coach Fuller's exciting projects.
The youngster is playing his first basketball for the school and has some nice
size and skills to work with. At 6'4 with long arms and a work ethic this
junior could be sterling by the new year.
(Southwind) was the true catalyst for this up and coming Memphis powerhouse. The 5'11 point guard was
very good from the jump and handled his business like a team leader should by
scoring when necessary and giving others easy opportunities. Walter Davis (Southwind) was very
active inside and from mid-range scoring the ball, Darrious Paige (Southwind) showed his deadly jump shot and his
hesitation dribble to the rack is special. Incoming freshman sensation Johnathan "JIII" Williams (Southwind) is
physical strength away from being a huge force at almost every position on the
floor. Also keep an eye out for rising sophomore project Charles Smith (Southwind) who showed some skills and is becoming
accustomed to the speed of the game right now.
Lester Gude (Covington) was a shot maker from deep outside and off
the dribble for a Covington
squad that was vertically challenged but gave maximum effort on both ends of
the floor. Look for senior guard Carl
to have a nice senior campaign.
The host team was an entity all on its own. The Crusaders
seemed to be going through the motions and not showing the Liberty grit and determination that made this
one of the top programs in the state. The talent is on hand but the overall
effort from some of their top returnees didn't match with the programs rich
tradition. Kendall Anthony (Liberty Tech) played
a good game in the opening contest, trying to lead his squad and scoring when
the time called for it.
I was unable to catch Bolivar Central until the day's final
contest and by then the coaches had rested most of the starters and played a
very bright looking group of underclassmen. Desmond Robinson (Bolivar Central) and Chris Woods (Bolivar Central), both
members of the Class of 2013, have very bright futures. Coaches and others who
saw their earlier games gave high praise to the efforts of Jay Murphy (Bolivar Central), Ricky Tisdale (Bolivar Central), Oneil
Woods (Bolivar Central), Demetric Whitehorn (Bolivar Central) and Tre Polk
This week I head to Cornersville and will have an associate
at Harpeth for another round of big time play days.