Posted On: 12/9/17 2:07 PM
After these two teams played the night before and lost in close games, it was only right that this game would come down to a buzzer beater! Soldan was down by 10 points with about 3 minutes to go, so they decided to speed the game up with a zone press. This caused turnovers and they were able to chip at that deficit before taking the lead with about a minute to go. Maplewood and Soldan traded a few buckets before Maplewood tied the game hitting 1 of 2 free throws with about 10 seconds left. Being tied late in the game and having the ability to take the final shot is huge, and Soldan’s Junior Guard Jesse Little took advantage by knocking down a contested 17 foot jumper while the clock ran out. Jesse Little finished the game with 8 points.
-Junior James Little
Soldan is a team with great size, speed, athleticism, but after watching a couple of their games, they will only go as far James Little will lead them. It is clear he is the leader and the go to man on the team. Getting in foul trouble in the first half lead to Little playing very little in that first half. He wasn’t even able to take a shot attempt because he was only on the floor for a couple of minutes. Because the game was close, Coach James Washington didn’t have to force Little back into the first half with those two fouls. In order for Soldan to pull this game out, Little had to come alive and take control and he did just that. He was able to knock down 6 free throws late in the game to pull his team close and give them the lead. He finished with a team high 20 points in which all were in the second half.
-Soldan as a team
Soldan has so much potential as a team, but where they struggle at times is not playing as a team. At times they also don’t bring enough tenacity or intensity to the game. After falling behind in two straight games, they had to find a way to play as one and communicate better on the floor. On paper, they have all of the right parts, but if they don’t bring the right attitude and they aren’t willing to play together, they are going to struggle down the road. They have a solid starting lineup and great depth which is always a great start. James Little will have to continue to be a leader, and if Jesse Little is able to come around, they can be one of the better backcourts around the area. The bigs that Soldan is able to bring to the floor is huge as well. Having 6’5″ Junior Tyon Huges, 6’6″ Senior Dominic Perks, and 6’6″ Sophomore Elijah Bishop gives them such an advantage on most teams. Not a lot of teams will be able to have the kind of size combined with speed and strength that Soldan is able to bring to the table.
-Junior Will Brunson
Friday night was a little different than Thursday night for Maplewood, but they both did end up in an unfortunate loss. Junior Will Brunson had a decent game on Thursday, but really picked it up on Friday. He isn’t the greatest scorer or even shooter on the floor, but he works extra hard and knows exactly what his role is. If he can take his man one on one, then he will, if he has to spot up and wait for a teammate to dish it to him, he is okay with that. Brunson will do whatever it takes to give his team the best chance to win. Brunson shot a tremendous 9-12 from the floor on Friday and led his team with 21 points. He doesn’t force anything up and has a high basketball IQ. It was great watching this team play, but Brunson is the motor for this team.
-Maplewood’s equal scoring
Maplewood has 4 guys on their team that all have the ability to go off for 20+ on any given night. The first two nights were great examples of that. With Ricky Guynn and Nate Grady-Liska both scoring 20+ on the first night and Will Brunson going for 21 the next time, they are the real definition as a team and work so well together. The other guy that looked good on Friday night was Junior Guard Patrick Booker. He started off on fire hitting his first three buckets from behind the arc. He ended the game with 13 points. Ricky Guynn didn’t have his best scoring night on Friday, but his team is able to make up for that having others come up big. Grady-Liska put together a good game for a second straight night, scoring a solid 19 points. The only thing that will hurt this team is that they don’t have great size, but with their hard work and hustle after rebounds, it doesn’t do enough damage to kill them. They looked good both nights, but lost to two great teams. This team will get better as the year goes on, and look for them to beat some really good teams this season.
-Coach James Washington
Coach Washington made a huge adjustment late in the game and had to take out a few bigs so that they could have all speed in the game. Being down 10 late in the game, he had to press and trap in the corners, which proved to be the deciding factor. That wasn’t his only big move though, keeping James Little out of the first half when he got in foul trouble was also huge. He was able to play the entire second half due to this big move. As long as Coach Washington is able to get this team working together, they could prove to be one of the better teams around the area. They will beat some good teams and upset others.