Deer Park Coach Steve Gentry played for legendary Withrow Coach George Jackson in the mid-late 80’s. And one thing that all of Coach Jack’s teams were known for was there press and turning defense into offense. And Coach Gentry unleashed that style Friday night at Sports Plus as Deer Park cruised to a 78-52 victory over CHL rival Reading Blue Devils.
Deer Park got out to a fast start early with the pressing style mentioned early, causing TO’s and forcing Reading into quick, contested shots which gave the Wildcats a 20-6 1st quarter lead. The second quarter saw Reading make somewhat of a push lead by c/o 2018 F Bryce Hunt (PHO #36). Hunt keep his team in the game by simply playing hard on both ends. Hunt ended up on the floor a lot in the second half, rather if it was diving for a loose ball or drawing charges, Bryce made helped his team cut the lead to under ten multiple times in the 2nd quarter. Also included in his 2nd quarter surge was a thunderous two-hand dunk on the baseline which gave the Blue Devils tons of momentum. Guards Alijah Vaught (c/o 2019) and AJ Brown (c/o 2019) gave Hunt help as well helping navigate the Wildcat press and making plays in the lane. By the half the lead was eleven for the Wildcats 36-25.
Unfortunately for the Blue Devils the 2nd half was a lot like the 1st quarter with TO’s a plenty which lead to the Wildcats getting out in transition. And with the Wildcats athleticism, size and depth they were able to simply wear down Reading and simply took control of the game. Deer Park was led by senior G/W Jalen Rose who finished with 22 points and 6 rebounds. Oak Hills (VA) transfer Damani McEntire (2018) finished with 15 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals while the before mentioned Hunt paced Reading with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 8 blocks.
Five Takeaways/Deer Park at Reading
- Deer Park is the best D-III team in Cincinnati. Coach Gentry and his staff has the depth and athleticism to simply wear teams down. And on the offensive end they have weapons all over the court. We didn’t even mention Mark Wise (13 points, 5 rebounds) and Steve Gentry Jr. (12 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assist and 2 steals), who both are highly regarded talents in the area. Wise is currently ranked 57th in the class of 2020. Hopefully we get a match-up with Deer Park and Purcell sometime in the playoffs.
- I would not mind seeing more high school, regular season games at Sports Plus. I was concerned about seating at first, but there was plenty of seating with a nice set-up. While Reading is playing there as they rebuild their facilities, Sports Plus might want to explore this option more in the future.
- Jalen Rose is among the most efficient players in the Cincinnati area. After his 22-point effort Friday, Rose is averaging 19.7ppg with a shooting split of 50/38/70 for the 1st three games. This is after 16.1ppg last season with a 52/41/66 split last season. At 6’5 what makes him so dangerous is the fact that he can knock shots from the mid-range area off the dribble and catch and shoot. This young man can help a program at the D-II/NAIA/JUCO level.
- Damani McEntire (C/O 2018) is the real deal. The Indianapolis native electrified the crown with a big transition dunk early in the 1st quarter then continued impressing the crowd with his overall ability. McEntire not only has scoring and athletic ability, but showed that he has a very good understanding of the game as well. He never looked rushed throughout the contest took quality shots as well. Get used to hearing this name throughout the regular season.
- Do not be surprised if the Wildcats finish the regular season undefeated. When you look ahead at their schedule they do have two matchups with Wyoming and Indian Hill a piece. But I do not see either program having the depth and athleticism to keep pace four quarters with Deer Park. Coach Gentry has led a team to an undefeated regular season before at Withrow in 2002-03. Can he do it again in 2017-18?