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Posted On: 12/5/17 9:44 PM
NORTH LIBERTY — Waterloo West opened their season with a 79-67 win over Iowa City Liberty on Friday night, holding off a game Lightning squad that was playing their first ever home game.
The Wahawks used a 13-0 run to build up a 13-3 lead in the first quarter, and looked like they were on their way to a blowout win, building up a lead of as much as 15 in the third quarter. Then Liberty sophomore Andre Brandon took over, scoring 16 points in the third quarter to help bring the Lightning back within two on multiple occasions in the second half. In the end, however, they ran out of gas and Waterloo West pushed it back out to a double digit spread by the end, spurred by the strong second half play of senior star CaRondis Harris-Anderson.
Waterloo West (1-0) was led by CaRondis Harris-Anderson, who had 25 points in the win, 19 of which came in the second half. Nick Pepin added 18 and Isaiah Johnson had 14. Liberty (1-1) was led by Andre Brandon, who had a game-high 28 points, 16 coming in the third quarter. Freshman guard Bo Gryp added 13 in the loss.
Waterloo West: CaRondis Harris-Anderson 25, Nick Pepin 18, Isaiah Johnson 14, Kalen Burt 9, Jaden Keller 9, Jaquan O’Neal 2, Antonio Alexander 2
Iowa City Liberty: Andre Brandon 28, Bo Gryp 13, Grayson Tyler 9, Ethan O’Donnell 4, Sam Funke 4, Moses Bolar 4, Isaac Bender 3, Ronnie Williams 2, Corey Baldwin 2
MVP: Andre Brandon (Iowa City Liberty)
Without the outburst that Liberty’s sophomore forward had in the third quarter, the Lightning would’ve been run off the court in this game. He nearly single-handedly brought them back from down ten at the half with his 16 third quarter points, allowing them to close within a possession on multiple occasions in the final 16 minutes.
Best offensive performance: CaRondis Harris-Anderson (Waterloo West)
Waterloo West’s star guard had a pretty poor first half, scoring six points on 3-11 shooting. But he came alive in the second half, helping to hold off Brandon’s outburst with 19 second half points. At one point he scored 10 straight points for the Wahawks, and he did so in a variety of different ways. He has a really nice mid-range game and has worked to expand that range out to the arc, and when he starts making shots, he’s a threat to get to the rim at almost any point in time. A strong, 6-3 guard who has really bloomed into a dynamic offensive player, he scored a team-high 25 points and was great when West needed him to be.
Best offensive performance: Andre Brandon (Iowa City Liberty)
It was a quiet start for Brandon, despite leading his team with six points at halftime. Then he took over in the third quarter, going 7-8 from the floor, including knocking down both of his 3-point attempts, en route to 16 third quarter points and a game-high 28 overall. He did his scoring in a number of ways, moving off the ball to score on basket cuts, breaking down his defender and getting to the rim for layups, knocking down a pair of set 3s, and getting to the free throw line. The sophomore forward had a coming out party on Friday night, and he could blossom into one of the better players in the 2020 class before too long.
Best defensive performance: Jaden Keller (Waterloo West)
The 6-5 sophomore presents the most defensive versatility for the Wahawks, with the ability to protect the rim (two blocks) or move his feet and stay in front of a lot of ball handlers on the perimeter. They can switch just about anything with him, and as he continues to mold himself as a player, he could become a defensive stopper.
Best passer: CaRondis Harris-Anderson (Waterloo West)
In addition to his second half scoring takeover, Harris-Anderson led the Wahawks in assists with five. He did a nice job breaking down the defense and getting into the lane, where he’s a threat to either score or distribute, and he did quite a bit of both in the game. He also frequently looks to push the ball forward in transition, which can lead to easy buckets for his teammates. Teammate Nick Pepin also had a nice night passing the ball for West.
Best shooter: Bo Gryp (Iowa City Liberty)
A true shooter, the 5-9 freshman guard was 3-3 from behind the arc en route to his 13 points for the Lightning. He does a nice job moving without the ball, and is ready to shoot on the catch when he comes off screens. He has a quick, repeatable release on his jumper and extended range. Putting him in the backcourt with Brandon in the frontcourt will equate to a lot of Liberty wins in coming years.
Best rebounder: Andre Brandon (Iowa City Liberty)
Brandon pulled down a game-high seven rebounds for the Lightning, using his size and athleticism to routinely soar above other players to pull down rebounds. He competes well on the glass on both ends of the floor and should continue to thrive on the glass as he keeps getting stronger.
Best underclassman: Andre Brandon (Iowa City Liberty)
The development the sophomore has made in the last 14 months has been astounding. When we saw him at the Iowa Dynasty Fall League in September 2016, as he was heading into his freshman year, he could barely dribble, and almost all of his scoring came off of offensive rebounds or by beating his man down the floor for a layup. He’s turned himself into a viable threat from the arc, can put the ball on the floor and score, and has a few post moves that he can use as well. If he keeps on this trajectory, watch out.
West’s storyline to watch moving forward: Will they give consistent enough effort on both ends to be a legitimate contender?
There is a load of talent on this roster, but the question for the Wahawks for years now has been whether or not they’ll consistently compete on both ends of the floor. They can score, but can they stay focused on the defensive end? If they’re able to do that, they can beat just about any team in the MVC. If not, there will be nights where they lose to teams they probably shouldn’t.
Liberty’s storyline to watch moving forward: In a building year, how does such a young team respond to the adversity they’ll face?
The Lightning are in an interesting situation, as they have almost solely freshmen and sophomores on their varsity roster as a brand new school. There will be nights this year when they get steamrolled by teams because they just don’t have the experience or depth yet. But there will also be nights where good things happen for them to build on. They need to be able to draw from those experiences as they continue moving forward as a group.