Posted On: 12/28/17 12:36 AM

Physical and scrappy, the Brentwood Academy Eagles (5-2) slipped past a mighty Whitehaven Tiger (10-1) team Wednesday evening, 55-49.

Glass Work

Second-chance points appeared likely when Brentwood Academy caught the Whitehaven Tigers in round one.  The Tigers have a frightening long and tall front line.

Without Gavin Schoenwald, Javon Nelson, and a fully recovered Kobe Carter the Eagles needed help on the glass.

The Eagles of Brentwood Academy failed to keep Whitehaven’s Tigers off the glass early, but they did a wonderful job fighting for defensive rebounds in the second half.

For the game Whitehaven finished with six offensive rebounds.

“Going into a lot of games we are going to be smaller,” said Camron Johnson afterwards.  “Our plan was to be tougher than them, make sure we get the game sped up.  Make sure we press, make sure we box out.  Once we get the rebound we are going to be pushing.”

Brentwood Academy runs out four guards most of the night.  When they lead late this really helps.  Fighting on the glass will not always be easy though.

Four Eagles tucked away 3+ rebounds and Garland actually finished with eight rebounds.  There was a toughness from BA that Whitehaven didn’t always match.

Cameron Jones paced his team with eight rebounds.  Starting guard Alvin Miles recorded five rebounds.

“We emphasize on boxing out a lot,” said Darius Garland.  “We are a small team and boxing out is the main thing right now for us.”

The team truly did commit to the glass though.  Whitehaven wrangled just two more rebounds than Brentwood Academy.

“I thought we battled,” said Brentwood Academy Head Coach Hubie Smith.  “By far the hardest we played this year.”

Darius turnovers

The first half was not flawless.  When a great player meets a great team it rarely is.  Darius Garland played well, but his turnovers bothered the Brentwood Academy offensive efficiency a bit in the opening half.

In the first quarter his handles were a little shaky.  The top player in the state coughed up three turnovers early.  Whitehaven worked very hard to get the ball out of his hands.

He did settle in and despite constant double and triple teams Garland only committed four turnovers the entire night.  In other words he committed just a single turnover in the second half.

Defending Darius

Early in the third quarter Whitehaven threw a double team at Darius.  It is hard to rattle the senior and most of the time Garland pulled the ball back and scanned the floor.

In the open floor Darius completely torched Whitehaven.  He is fantastic using his short stabs.  The steps are precise and purposeful.

The strength of Garland increased significantly in the last few months.  Especially after AAU season, Garland hit the weight room very hard.  When the season started Darius Garland looked like a boy finally morphing into a man.  His chest filled out and the arms began to appear muscular.

For years Garland was thin and skilled.  He is finally able to hold the weight on and it has an obvious impact after fouls.  Now Garland can finish with a little more strength and and1’s are common.

Darius Garland scored 25 points (12-12 FT’s).  The four turnovers were problematic, but he cleaned them up late.  The eight rebounds proved vital and probably stand as the most important statistical contribution outside of his free throw makes.

The Complimentary Cast

Senior Cameron Johnson played wonderful.  He fed shooters and defended the basketball.  He will be a college football player, but Johnson has the makeup for a college point guard too.  We rank him in the top 15 in the Class of 2018 as purely a college basketball prospect.  He reminds of Charlie Ward (FSU) and other subpar outside shooters that completely impact the game defensively.  Cam is so disruptive and agitating defensively.  His mixture of strength and quickness remains special.


“A lot of bench players stepped up,” said Garland.  “We took a lot of charges.  If we didn’t take those charges we probably would have lost the game.”

Though Whitehaven keyed on Garland the senior did see strong play from his teammates.  Look out for a Class of 2020 wing in the coming years.

Cory Reynolds, the sophomore, he can really play,” said Darius Garland.  “He is going to be our X-factor this year for us.”

Closing Time

Bretnwood Academy Head Coach Hubie Smith essentially played four point guards in the final stages.  He liked the lineup of Garland, Johnson, Kam Lyons, Michael Archie, and Kobe Carter to drain clock.  All four of the guards also happen to be seniors.

It was a steady, unflappable bunch…mostly.

A telling stretch in the fourth quarter witnessed multiple Brentwood Academy backcourt turnovers.

“We were passive,” said Coach Hubie Smith.  “They doubled Darius and our guards quit attacking.  When you get passive you turn it over.”

Tiger wings capitalized off the costly turnovers.  In fact, Whitehaven closed the game to within two points at 48-46 with 1:26 to play.

Leading late can be difficult emotionally as the leading team tries to slow the tempo and drain clock.  Instead of controlling the ball and tempo several Eagle guards coughed the ball up.  Veterans.

“They are used to Darius making the plays,” said Coach Smith.  “And you have Michael Archie and Cam Johnson coming in from football.  Cam didn’t play any summer basketball (either).  So he hasn’t really played since March.  So he and Mike are going to be a little rusty for awhile.”

Imagine a rust-free Brentwood Academy backcourt in one month.  If they are able to defeat Whitehaven now, then that Eagle team should challenge for a state title with any kind of rebounding.

“We are guard-heavy, so we have to win with guards,” said Brentwood Academy Head Coach Hubie Smith.  “I think you do win with guards, but the tempo has to be right.”

With made free throws by Darius Garland and stingy defense Brentwood Academy captured their biggest win of the season. Thursday they play Mt. Bethel (GA) in the semifinals at 8:00 PM.