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Posted On: 12/22/17 11:00 AM
In a clash of the city’s top Class B squads, Godwin Heights faced Grand Rapids Catholic Central at home in front of a sold out crowd. The atmosphere was full of energy and the players on each team were primed to compete. In the end, the battle ended up being a bit anti-climatic with Godwin controlling the tempo from the beginning. However, the contest did afford us a look at where each of these teams and their respective players are as of this point in the season.
As mentioned above, Godwin Heights took control of the game early. Led by senior guard Lamar Norman Jr., they scored a lot and quickly, forcing a timeout from CC halfway through the first quarter. At this point, they led 15-4. Out of the timeout, the Cougars made a valiant comeback, going on a 7-0 run to bring the score within four. However, Godwin extended their lead to end the quarter with a buzzer-beating splash by Norman from NBA-range to make the score 18-11. The second quarter went similarly to the start of the first. Norman remained a force to be reckoned with, and the Wolverines pushed the tempo as a team. Their combination of skill, speed, and athleticism proved too much for Catholic Central, and they ended the half up 43-25. Throughout the second half, CC continued to hustle and make some plays. However, Godwin remained aggressive on defense and relentless offensively. Cougars forward Marcus Bingham struggled with scoring and foul trouble. Center Jacob Polakovich did well in the post, but getting the ball to him was made difficult by the Wolverines’ defense. All the while, Godwin did well breaking down the court and scoring and passing in transition. The game finished with an emphatic 76-58 victory for Godwin Heights.
MVP – 6’2 Lamar Norman Jr. (Godwin Heights)
Lamar Norman Jr. had himself quite a game, and with the flu no less! He started out super strong, scoring seven early points, and his confidence could be clearly seen. He hit shot after shot, eventually looking down at his hand in mock disbelief. Unfortunately, he was in foul trouble and ended his first half over three minutes early, but he exited the game at this point having already scored 23 points! In the second half, he hit two more triples to end the game leading all scorers with 29. Throughout the contest, he proved very difficult to guard, beating defenders to the rim off the dribble or shaking them around before hitting his step-back jump shot. His heavy contribution of energy and offense in the win make him the game’s MVP, hands down.
Play of the Game – 6’2 Lamar Norman Jr. (Godwin Heights)
With how great his performance was, it seems fitting Norman would also make the play of the game. He put his ball-handling and shooting ability on display in an isolation with a Catholic Central defender. He danced around for just long enough to get the Cougar off-balance before stepping back, making the three, and getting fouled on the shot. Of course, he made the free throw to complete the four-point-play.
Best Offensive Performance – 6’8 Jacob Polakovich (GR Catholic Central)
Polakovich acted as a leader for his Cougars, talking throughout the game and contributing on both ends of the floor. While the intense defense of the Wolverines made it difficult to feed Polakovich in the post, he did fairly well once the ball was in his hands. The 6’8 PF used his combination of strength and footwork to maneuver into his desired shot. He also collected a number of offensive rebounds and went strongly back up with them, getting fouled on numerous occasions. Finally, we got a glimpse of his versatility late in the game when he shot and made an open three-pointer with no hesitation. Though he remained on the inside to score and rebound nearly the entire contest, this was a pleasant surprise from the big man. He finished with 15 points and 8 rebounds, a much-needed contribution for GRCC.
Most Well-Rounded Performance – 6’6 Markeese Hastings (Godwin Heights)
Hastings was the second star for Godwin beside Norman, and while Norman pleased the crowd, Hastings made his biggest contributions a bit more quietly. That is not to say he did not make impressive plays; the Butler signee actually had several dunks throughout the game. However, his sheet was full of other stats. He ended with 14 points, 8 rebounds, 7 steals, and 6 assists, a very balanced performance for the talented forward. Additionally, he seemed to really pester Bingham on defense.
Best Defensive Performance – 6’10 Marcus Bingham Jr. (GR Catholic Central)
Bingham did not dominate offensively as he is prone to do, but he still made himself well-distinguished in certain areas. His length was very valuable in contesting shots, and, though some slipped through the cracks, few shots were satisfactorily gotten off when he was there to alter them. He finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 blocks, some of which were quite powerful.
Best Under-the-Radar Performance – 6’3 Darrell Belcher (GR Catholic Central)
Belcher did not enter this game with a well-known name, but he is a contributor for Catholic Central. Though his squad struggled, he did good things throughout the contest. He was able to block Hastings and cause a turnover in the first quarter. He also showed his speed and athleticism with some driving and shot-contesting. In the end, he left the game right behind Polakovich and Bingham in scoring with a solid twelve points.
Best Intangibles – 6’0 David Kellah (Godwin Heights)
I knew his name but not his face or game going into this matchup. Leaving it, I now know all three. Kellah’s intangible contribution was in being an energy guy for Godwin. He made hustle plays, clapped on defense, and got excited on offense. Additionally, he did well playing alternate point guard and impressed me early with his creative and strong rim attacking. He left the game with nine points and a handful of assists and steals.
Best Guy off the Bench – 6’2 Jaylen Coates (Godwin Heights)
The majority of the action for both teams was seen by the respective starting fives. However, Jaylen Coates did play some significant minutes for the Wolverines. He served as a good roleplayer, making good passes and few mistakes. He also scored four points and contributed to the great defense of the entire Godwin squad.
Best Underclassman – 5’10 Diego Ledesma (GR Catholic Central)
There were few underclassmen in this matchup. However, there were some featured on the Catholic Central roster, one of whom being the sophomore guard. While he did not show out, Ledesma was the first option off the bench for the Cougars and held his own. He ended up leaving the contest with four points but not before showing a confident handle, some quickness, and the ability to distribute the ball.
Biggest Takeaway – Godwin Heights
Godwin Heights proved in this matchup that they are nobody to be underestimated or messed around with this year. Both they and Catholic Central are considered top Class B teams, and they separated themselves a bit in my mind with this performance. They have an elite point guard in Norman, a very well-rounded and talented Big East player in Hastings, and a supporting cast of very fast and skilled athletes. Their speed and athleticism was the downfall for Catholic Central in this game. They really proved themselves Wednesday and, as of now are looking very dangerous.