Posted On: 01/7/18 1:32 AM

Exceptional players deal with basketball losses differently.

Memphis East dropped the Penny Hardaway Hoopfest’s featured contest to Chicago Simeon Saturday night, 73-70.  Coupled with a loss at Olive Branch (MS) Friday night the Simeon loss crushed the Mustang players.

“We expected to win,” said Memphis East starting center James Wiseman (#1 in 2019 PrepHoopsTN rankings).  “We just didn’t come out hard enough to beat the teams.  We are going to do that next game though.”

Wiseman was the most even-handed of all the East players exiting the locker room.  Several players were in tears. One was consoled by his mother, virtually collapsing into her arms.  Others, like Ryan Boyce (PHT #3), donned a stunned glare.

The game wrecked Alex Lomax (PHT #2).

Asked how he felt walking off the floor towards the bus, Lomax mustered a single word, “hurt.”

Another question posed to Lomax was met with a quivering voice.

PrepHoopsTN: That is a team you guys have now split with.  How do you feel you guys can get back to where you are going?

“It just hurts right now,” said Lomax.  An East assistant coach tucked his arm around the senior’s back.  Two teammates grabbed his shoulders and escorted out of the building.  An assistant coach tucked his arm around the senior’s back.

For a bull of a man, Lomax rarely gets rattled.  His steady hand, mind, and body provide the backbone of the Memphis East team.  To see him destroyed by the last two days tortures anybody with humanity.

“We are soul searching really because we don’t know our identity yet with the people on the team,” said James Wiseman.  “We just got to come together.”

James finished with 12 points and four rebounds in 24 minutes.  Wiseman probably collected six blocks, but the stat was not tallied.

“We didn’t reach our expectations and we didn’t follow the gameplan like that,” said Wiseman.  “We didn’t have any energy at the beginning of the game.  Just energy and effort.”

Was he dissapointed in the energy they put forth the entire game?

“I would say the first half,” said James Wiseman.  “We should have done the whole game like we did in the fourth quarter, but it was too late.”

 

 

East was the #1 team in the nation a month ago.  They own wins over exceptional teams: Findlay Prep, Oak Ridge (FL), Columbus (MS), Prolific Prep (CA), and Simeon.

“We can lean on those wins when we play with energy,” said Wiseman.  “We know who we can be.  We just gotta work harder.  That is all.  Just work hard.”

Memphis East plays Tuesday back at White Station against the Spartans.

Brentwood Academy Eagles

Brentwood Academy lost too.  Unlike the East/Simeon loss, Brentwood Academy trailed Paul VI (DC) the entire game.  The game drew close only in occasional patches. Paul VI won 63-50 going away.

Still, team leader Darius Garland (PHT #1 in 2018) absorbed the painful loss.

“Together as a team I think we played really bad,” said Darius Garland.  “We just didn’t stay patient on offense.  We didn’t get the stops we needed.  We just played really bad today.”

Deservedly considered the best shooter in the state, Darius Garland shot a paltry 4-19 from the floor.  Though he scored 19 points he was hopping in frustration after a third quarter miss.  The narrow misses just piled on top of each other.

“Some of my shots weren’t going in,” said Garland.  “I just tried to get my teammates involved.  And get them shots that they have been hitting all game, so that is what I tried to do.”

For Garland the key is always to keep the whole team focused on scoring early and then ideally ease his way into the scoring column.

Unfortunately, Paul VI hopped out to a 10-0 lead early and Garland was forced to take the reins and draw fouls with the drive.

“Just take care of the ball,” said Darius Garland.  “I had a couple turnovers that were careless.  I got my teammates the ball.  I got Kam Lyons going, the shooter.  We got Cam going a little bit.  I just try to get my teammates to come with me and just play at my level.”

Garland labeled Cory Reynolds the team’s X-factor.  Reynolds is the Eagles’ best sophomore.  His best game of the season came in Brentwood Academy’s NXT LVL Championship Game.

Brentwood Academy returns to action Tuesday against Lipscomb Academy.

Darius Garland is inarguably the best player in the senior class.  James Wiseman is probably only challenged by his East Mustang teammate Chandler Lawson atop the 2019 rankings.  And Alex Lomax has more wins under his belt than anybody in the state since 2016.

Regardless of their lofty rankings and years of intense devotion to the game, they all lost Saturday.  How they handle loss will be intriguing in the coming week.