Posted On: 02/14/17 12:39 PM
What a way to start a conference tournament! In the first round of the Conference 29 Tournament, #4 Waynesboro hosted #5 Monticello in a thriller that went down to the wire. It was a back-and-forth affair in the first half, with Monticello hitting a three pointer at the buzzer to take a three point lead into halftime. In the second half the Raiders of Monticello came out firing, and ended the third quarter on an 8-2 run to take a 49-40 lead into the fourth. The Giants of Waynesboro weren’t done fighting however, as they turned the pressure up and made it a game. There were too many ties and lead changes to count in the last five minutes, and it seemed to be one that whoever had the ball last would win. Senior leader Ukari Brooks of Monticello hit a layup with under ten seconds left to put the Raiders up two. Waynesboro elected not to call a timeout, and they heaved a pass that was deflected, recovered and pitched ahead to junior Dajuan Moore who took a contested layup as time expired. Just as it looked like we were headed for overtime, the ball bounced around every part of the rim and fell out, leading to pandemonium for Monticello and heartbreak for Waynesboro. Monticello escaped 60-58, and will meet #1 seed Spotswood on Wednesday with a birth in the 3A West Regional at stake.
MVP | Ukari Brooks | Monticello ’17
Brooks was aggressive early and down the stretch for Monticello, finishing with a game high 18 points including the go ahead basket with less than 10 seconds left. What’s even more impressive is that he sat out the entire second quarter because of foul trouble. The 6’0” combo guard was unguardable off the bounce, getting in the lane and showing his athleticism by finishing at the rim. Whenever they needed a play, he came up big for them.
Play of the Game
There were plenty of great plays, including three separate buzzer beaters, but Brooks finish with just under ten seconds left sealed the deal and has Monticello one win away from a regional birth. Brooks set it up perfectly, running clock and waiting for the last shot, but he realized his defender was asleep so he went early. He crossed left to right, got his shoulders past his man and elevated to finish above the post defenders.
Best Offensive Performer | Malik Barbour | Monticello ’17
It easily could have been Brooks, but Monticello wouldn’t have been in that opportunity if Barbour didn’t come up big time-and-time again. The experienced backcourt always came up big, and Barbour put on a show in the pick-and-roll. He knocked down the pull up when they went under, attacked hard and finished at the rim and played great in transition. He finished with 15 points, four rebounds, two assists and three steals on the night.
Best Defensive Performer | Akadeon Napier | Waynesboro ’18
Offensively Napier was streaky, although he did finish with 10 points, but defensively he was great. When Waynesboro decided to pick up the pressure in the fourth quarter, he read rotations right and jumped passing lanes for steals and transition opportunities. His four steals, three of which came in the fourth quarter, were big in the Giants making a run late.
Best Guy off the Bench | Dean Lockley | Monticello ‘19
Lockley was big in the sixth man role, and made an immediate impact by scoring six quick points in the first half. His speed and shiftiness with the basketball in his hands seemed to surprise Waynesboro, and he got to where he wanted on the court whenever. He finished with 10 points and three rebounds, and finished the game on the court with the two seniors.
Best Intangibles | De’Tajh Smith | Waynesboro ’18
Smith, who finished with 11 points and three rebounds, was all over the place for Waynesboro, and almost took me out on one play if the Monticello bench wasn’t in the way! He wasn’t the biggest guy on the floor, but he hit the deck first for loose balls and would stick his nose right in to tie someone up or tip a rebound out to keep a possession alive. His hustle and energy were needed for Waynesboro, and a late three for him was big in their comeback effort.
Best Under the Radar Performer | Zach Hatter | Waynesboro ’18
What do you say when you see a 5’11” combo guard who, even when he doesn’t shoot it well, ends up with 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists? He’s a hooper. Hatter didn’t get off to the best start shooting it, but also didn’t get many looks in the first half. In the third quarter the Giants made an effort to go to him and he came through. He has tremendous feel, understanding how to use his body to finish or when to keep it or give it up in transition. He’s also tough, competing on the glass and on the defensive end. He’s one to keep an eye on for his senior season.
Best Underclassman | Dean Lockley | Monticello ’19
There were about five underclassmen in the game that played sparingly, but Lockley had the biggest impact and possibly the brightest future. At 5’9” he isn’t the biggest guard, but he has blow by speed, a tight handle and is a tough finisher at the rim and in the midrange. If he can keep his motor high and work on his point guard skill set he’ll have a chance to be really good moving forward.
Best Rebounder | Thad Lane | Monticello ’18
Lane provided a much needed post presence for Monticello, and while his numbers of seven points and eight rebounds weren’t staggering, he was huge in getting Simmons into foul trouble. He rebounded well outside of his area too, fighting for extra possessions and starting the break. He also hit a big shot at the end of the half to give Monticello a three point lead and big momentum.
Best Post Scorer | Jaylen Simmons | Waynesboro ’17
Simmons is a little undersized for the post at about 6’3”, but his mix of upper body strength and soft touch around the basket made him hard to guard for Monticello, especially in the first half. Simmons scored in a number of ways, by either bullying his way to the basket, shooting a jump hook or attacking the offensive glass. He finished with nine points and six rebounds despite battling foul trouble all game.