Posted On: 01/3/18 9:04 PM
Final Score: East Noble 53 – Westview 54
In a battle of unbeaten opponents, this game did not disappoint. The atmosphere was electric from the tip as Westview and East Noble fans packed the gym. On a brutally cold night, both teams came out hot from the floor and put together two of the better performances of the season thus far. Behind a strong first quarter from Elijah Hales, Westview was able to stay close with the Knights. East Noble had jumped out to an early 14-10 lead after the first quarter behind strong play from their starting group. Ali Ali started to come alive in the second quarter with a few long balls and break away dunk. The game never stretched beyond a few possessions and the Warriors and Knights battled on both ends of the floor. East Noble maintained their lead at the break, 26-25.
The third quarter was much of the same. The game went back and forth all night. East Noble made a run in the third quarter that could have been the tipping point. Westview was able to regroup after a timeout and piggy-back off the play from Nick Rensberger. Hayden Jones was getting it done on both ends of the floor for East Noble. The Knights still had their one-point lead heading into the final frame, 39-38.
The fourth quarter followed suit with the previous three. The game went back and forth but East Noble was able to build a five-point lead with a minute and a half left. It looked as though they were going to be able to close it out if they were able to take care of the ball and hit free-throws. Westview switched to a trapping zone with a minute left and caused a few late turnovers that flipped the script in their favor. The Warriors escaped with a 54-53 win to keep their undefeated season alive.
Nick Rensberger quietly put together a strong all-around performance to help propel the Warriors to a comeback win against East Noble to keep their undefeated season alive. Rensberger is instrumental in Westview’s offense as he gets multiple touches per possession both in the post and out on the perimeter. Nick finished with 15 points (7-10 2FG and 1-2 FT), a game-high 8 rebounds (7 defensive and 1 offensive), a game high 5 assists, and 1 steal. He created space down on the block to open up passing and cutting lanes for his guards. He made some tough interior passes and really hit the defensive glass to put an end to the Knights offensive possessions.
Ali Ali was in control of his game. The 6’8” junior guard can score it all three levels with great efficiency. He looked comfortable stepping into the long ball but also scored with his back to the basket when he had the advantage. Ali’s ball handling has greatly improved and he’s using his length to get his shot off over defenders. Ali finished with 16 points (1-3 2FG, 4-4 3FG, ad 2-2 FT), 7 defensive rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block. His ability to score was apparent as every time that he touched the ball he drew the attention of the entire Warriors defense. Ali has greatly improved in the past few months and is off to a fast start with his junior year.
Ali Ali finished the game shooting 71% but he was also the most consistent defensive asset in the game. He is moving much better on the perimeter and is bothering guards and bigs alike with his length and athleticism. Ali’s timing on defense is excellent as he can turn away shots from a help-side position and get out in passing lanes for easy transition baskets. He finished with 2 steals and 1 block to help pace the East Noble defense. He was also able to pull in 7 defensive rebounds in an outstanding performance. As he begins to trust his skill set and get more comfortable impacting the game on both ends, he will be a dominant force for the remainder of his high school career. All schools should be taking notice and giving him a look.
Elijah Hales put together a performance worthy of the “Best Offensive Performance” if it weren’t for Ali Ali dishing out the handful of assists that he did. Hales finished with 18 points (7-9 2FG, 1-1 3FG, and 1-2 FT), 2 assists, 1 offensive rebound, and 1 steal. Hales is a strong combo guard who has started working off the ball more frequently in the past few seasons. His ball handling abilities were superb last night but he was most impressive going to the basket off the bounce. He took advantage of angles and got his defender on his hip to create separation to finish at the basket. Elijah is the catalyst for this Warriors team – they go as he goes. He came out last night and was aggressive which set the tone for the remainder of the game. He’s still coming into his own as a scorer but is developing quickly.
Brent Cox came off the bench late in the first quarter and immediately made an impact on the game. He quickly scored four points before the quarters end to solidify himself as someone that needed to be on the floor in a late game situation. Cox finished with 8 points (4-5 2FG), 2 offensive rebounds, and 1 assist. The big man found space down low and was able to catch and finish on easy baskets from Ali Ali and Hayden Jones. He moved well around the basket and carved out space on the offensive glass when his man rotated over to help on a drive.
Hayden Jones could have fallen into multiple categories with his performance last night. The sophomore guard is a non-stop pest on defense, aggressive on the offensive end of the floor, and leaves his fingerprints on almost every possession. Jones looked comfortable from behind the arc last night knocking down a few contested threes coming off screens. Hayden finished with a game-high 19 points (3-9 2FG, 4-5 3FG, and 1-2 FT), 4 rebounds (3 defensive and 1 offensive), and 4 assists. He used his quickness and athleticism to beat guards off the bounce consistently but couldn’t get it going around the basket. Jones is slated to play his first season on the EYBL Circuit this upcoming summer and he’s proving why he deserves that opportunity this year. Great leader as an underclassman.
Nick Rensberger did a little bit of everything for Westview last night and they needed it. They trailed the majority of the game, albeit by only a few possessions, but Nick was a consistent force that helped keep them close. He created movement and opportunities on the offensive end of the floor and was relentless attacking the defensive glass. He has good ball skills and hands for a big man that helped him pull down a game-high 8 rebounds. The game didn’t offer much on the offensive glass as both teams were disciplined in boxing out but Rensberger pursued every loose ball that he could.
Hayden Jones looked poised beyond his years last night in a tough atmosphere. Jones worked his way into the starting lineup last season as a freshman and has already grown and adapted leadership into his role. Hayden pulled the team together during crucial moments especially when Westview strung together a few big plays to make a run. He didn’t turn the ball over in tight situations and seemed to always be looking to make a play for his teammates. He battled through screens all night on defense and never let the officiating or energy get the best of him. Hayden is a big reason that the Knights were an undefeated team to start the year. Keep an eye on Hayden Jones as he continues to develop and grow into a big-time player.
Charlie Yoder is another underclassman that is making a splash on the high school basketball scene. He is a versatile scoring threat on the offensive end of the floor that moves well without the ball in his hands. Yoder finished with 12 points (5-9 2FG, 0-2 3FG, and 2-3 FT), 3 assists, 2 defensive rebounds, and 2 steals. He had a strong third quarter after struggling from the field early in the game and was a big piece of their offensive movement. Charlie showed patience on the block with the back to the basket and scored efficiently in the paint in the second half. Another Class of 2020 prospect to keep an eye on.
East Noble and Westview both came into this game undefeated and proved their records to be true with the performances they put together. Both teams came out of the gate ready to get after it on the defensive end of the floor and East Noble commanded a steady lead throughout the game. It wasn’t until late that the Warriors rallied behind a steal in the final two minutes and the energy of the fans to pull out the comeback win late in the fourth quarter. Both teams will be tough outs come March in their respective classes.