Posted On: 01/5/18 1:05 PM
TOP 10 BATTLE
This was a battle of two teams that technically haven’t lost in state so you got top of the state results. It was also the first in conference battle of the Centennial league. It was #7 Grandview vs. #2 Smoky Hill in which Grandview won 65-55. Grandview’s a team that’s had some early success in the season in-state as well as a successful showing in Vegas at the Tarkanian Classic. They lost only once and pulled off a late OT buzzer beating victory as well. In the game, it was their inside-out presence that won them the game, Dayne Prim and Caleb McGill manned the middle and changed many shots as well as loosened up the defense with their aggressiveness inside, DaVon Walker and Tyler Unger got it going from outside which caused issues for the Buffaloes.
Smoky Hill is as balanced a team as you’ll get as Kenny Foster led all scorers (like most nights) with 22 points and John Harge and William Becker were on the boards. With Quinten Rock handling point guard duties as well as knocking down the 3-ball it’s easy to see why this is a top ten team as well. The game was officiated well and played close but Grandview knocked down just a few more shots and won the battle in the paint as well. These are two teams that’ll see each other in a few weeks and I fully expect it to be just as tight of a finish.
One of the first things that stood out from these two teams was their pure size. Other than the point guard battle, both teams are structured around size that just so happens to push the pace as well. Taking a look at only the starting line-up for Smoky Hill all but their point guard is over 6-foot with Harge and Becker both 6’8 and 6’9 respectively. For as big as Smoky is, Grandview is just as big. Gentry, Prim and Unger are all 6’3 and McGill is 6’6 as well. I say that to say this, the way that you approach both teams are going to be different that most teams in the state. Most nights, both teams come into the game bigger than other teams and on Thursday night, they both seen a team that matches them in size. When a team is just as big as you and plays that same style of basketball, it comes down to if you can knock down shots and generate enough rebounds to give second chances, will and determination becomes the most important aspect and there weren’t many second chance points.
ZONE & PLAYING WITH A LEAD
One of the staples in high school basketball is the use of presses and zones. While teams with speed usually press, teams with size use the zone. These two teams were bigger teams so the zone was used. For Grandview, this was one of the first times all year that they brought theirs out and it was useful as Smoky had to adapt to it early and find their jump shots. Grandview did a good job of running the Buffaloes off of the 3-point line and forcing them to make plays inside. It was an off-night shooting for the Buffaloes. As far as the Buffaloes, they started out matching their zone as well and went to it late as well. That shift created momentum in their favor as Grandview went through a spurt where they couldn’t adapt and gave the Buffaloes a few extra possessions. Another thing that stood out is the efficiency regarding Grandview. With Grandview, you won’t see many forced shots, they’ll literally pass the ball around until they get an open shot and if there is a forced shot, its most likely at the rim. They aren’t a team that you can fall behind on because they then play so disciplined that you’ll have a harder time trying to get the lead back.
4TH QUARTER ISSUES FOR SMOKY HILL
The game was so balanced throughout and was like a fight between two heavyweights. The first quarter and half was a feeling out period in which both teams were trying to find some familiarity with eachother. Smoky pushed the pace and one of the best players in the state Kenny Foster got off to a hot start. He finishd with 11 points at the half and knocked down two deep 3-pointers in the second half. He got seven more points in the third quarter before hitting a wall in the 4th in which he only scored two points and that’s where the issues started for the Buffaloes. Not only did he hit a wall in the 4th quarter, but, the Buffaloes only had two other players score in the 4th (Harge and Rock). Smoky Hill needs to get back to playing with a sense of urgency throughout the game, specifically in the 4th quarter when playing against such a talented group with a lead. They have some of the top players in the state and those players need to step up in the most crucial point of the game. Being aggressive, playing with hustle and energy and knocking down shots is important. There needs to be more to close out the game.
UNDER THE RADAR PLAYERS SHOW OUT
Two players that stood out this game was Tyler Unger and Caleb McGill. Junior guard, Tyler Unger was the X-Factor in the game and changed the entire game. When the Buffaloes went into the zone, Unger shot them out of it. He finished with 13 points, two rebounds and a steal off the bench and was brought in for one reason, change the game. His aggressiveness on offense loosened the zone as he knocked down multiple 3-pointers and kept the Wolves offense afloat. Alongside him was Sophomore Center Caleb McGill. McGill finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds and made his presence known from the beginning of the game as his size proved to be another difference maker. He battled inside kept Smoky Hill off the boards. He showcased his improved back to the basket work and despite being so young, played a mature and poised game. Both of these players saw their stock rise with solid games and are two players that many teams should keep their eye on.