Five Takeaways: Garfield Heights vs. Cleveland JFK

High School

Posted On: 12/2/17 4:40 PM

Garfield Heights kicked off their 2017-18 campaign with a dominate 98-47 victory over Cleveland John F. Kennedy.

Here are the five things we noticed in the game…

Garfield Heights’ defensive pressure
Garfield Heights played a full-court man to man press from the start of the first quarter, with 6’9″ junior Alonzo Gaffney guarding the in-bound passer. As a result of Gaffney’s length, there was a number of deflections and turnovers before a JFK guard even touched the ball.

Furthermore, the traps at half-court by Mercyhurst commit Alex Heath and Gaffney often turned into layups at the other end. And regardless of the tandem, their mobile length from forwards and quickness of guards was a hassle.

Brison Waller dominates the glass
The 6’9″ junior was the beneficiary of missed jumpers by his own teammates all game. Waller times his jumps well and avoids fouling even though he’s boarding on the defender’s back. On the defensive end, many of their guards are looking to leak out in transition after forcing a bad shot, giving more opportunity for him to clean the glass.

Spreading the floor with triple
With two 6’9″ forwards and a 6’5″ Taj’mal Toney (2018) in their starting lineup, you might think the Bulldogs would establish their bigs in the paint. But, Garfield Heights had a lot of quick possessions that ended in deep 3-point attempts. Everyone had the green light from out there, including 6’0″ freshman Meechie Johnson. With Waller controlling offensive rebounds, even the misses winded up as scores for Garfield.

Experience off the bench
Even with the three MM/HM prospects in the starting lineup, depth might be Garfield Heights’ strongest asset. 5’10” Lakeland commit Julian Whiteside provided toughness and ball-security off the bench. Central State commit Keandre Graves, a 6’3″ Lutheran East transfer, capitalized on open looks with the second unit. Finally, Jacksonville commit Donovan Forte clears space in the paint and excels as a reliever for Waller.

Who can play with Garfield Heights?
On paper, the most talented and deepest team in the state looked ready for the marathon. Pickerington North and Archbishop Moeller are likely the only teams who can compete with their size and athleticism. It will be interesting to see them play against stronger competition, as tonight was a low-pressure situation where guys could fire up threes without worrying about Waller or Gaffney cleaning up the miss. Regardless, it will take a disciplined and talented team to challenge Garfield come February and March.