Posted On: 01/14/18 6:33 PM
Not often do teams have a playoff-type game in early January without it being a district game. However, on a freezing night in January, that is exactly what happened in Alexandria. The #1 team in class 3A, Peabody, hosted the third ranked Warriors of Sophie B. Wright on Jones Street. In a game filled with turns and twist fit of a playoff game, Peabody came out victorious 64-57.
Even in the loss, SBW showed that they are a major threat to win a class 3A state title. The trio of Greg Hammond, Damiree Burns, and Prince Campbell helped Wright dominate play for three quarters as they built leads of twelve (at the end of the 1st) and ten (midway through the 3rd). During the fourth quarter, Peabody’s junior wings Kyron Gibson and Darius Smith led a scoring barrage that took over the game. Along with scoring, their pressure on the Warrior guards ultimately led to the Warhorse victory.
Peabody is a battle tested team
Peabody might be led by 6’7″ senior Dwight Simon; however, their 2019 class is what drives the car for the Warhorses. The trio of Latavion Wagner (6’3″), Darius Smith (6’3″), and Kyron Gibson (6’1″) make all of the hustle plays on offense when they are needed. Gibson drove the lane the whole 4th quarter and completed several layups or completed and-one plays. Darius Smith took the task of defending Greg Hammond in the last stanza and limited his scoring. Wagner made timely shots and dove on the floor for loose balls. These three, as well as the rest of the team, never looked rattled or worried during the game. Their last quarter performance displayed why they are number one.
Sophie B. Wright is primed for a title run
Even though the resilience and fortitude of Peabody won them the game, the Warriors are a legitimate threat to their repeat chances. SBW post players Prince Campbell (Sr.) and Damiree Burns (Jr.) are hard to shot over because of their length and leaping ability. Both players attack the glass relentlessly. Greg Hammond is smooth on offense from inside the lane and from deep. Scoring comes very easy for him. Charlie Russell can defend four positions legitimately and score. They even press with their small guards Jerome Anthony (Jr.) and Emmanuel McCoy (Sr.). They can play any style and have the personnel to do so. I have not seen a team this talented since the 1990 Southwood Cowboys. If this game was on a neutral floor, there could have easily been a different result.
Jamal Hayward has to play bigger
Standing at 6’10”, junior Jamal Hayward was the most imposing force on the floor. In a game of this magnitude going forward, he will have to rebound and score better. On the defensive boards he held his own. The offensive end was a different story. On a couple of possession when Peabody went to a high-low set with he and Simons, he got deep looks and scored. The height and activity of the Warriors gave him problems when he was on the floor and he had a distinct height (and weight) advantage. In the future, Hayward will need to use his massive frame to be more active on the boards and in scoring. If he does that, Peabody will be even better than they are at present.