Posted On: 02/28/18 10:58 AM
This Regional Semi-Final featured 2 of the best teams in the state, and did not disappoint. East Nashville rushed out to an 11 point 1st quarter lead only to see it cut to 6 by the half. Stratford used a 22-4 run to start the 2nd half and take a 12 point lead with 2:03 to go in the 3rd. East Nashville would cut the lead to 57-55, but would get no closer, falling to Stratford 65-57.
Best Under the Radar performer: Sr. Guard Ivan Buford recorded 6 steals to go along with 9 points and 3 assists in the win.
Best Intangibles: In a game where many players were diving on the floor and hustling Stratford’s Juwan Carpenter stood out. He seemed to be everywhere. He was the primary ballhandler almost every possession from his point position. Recording 6 steals to go along with 9 points and 8 assists, his effort was critical in the win.
Best guy off the bench: The benches saw little production for either team, outside of JR G Taras Carter of East Nashville. Racking up 15 points, 5 assists, 4 boards, and 3 steals he almost deserved player of the game considerations. On back to back plays to start the 4th he hit a deep 3 then had a steal that lead to a Justin Williams dunk cutting the Stratford lead to 3.
Best Catch and Shoot Guy: Kevonte Boyd is long with good ball handling skills, but was today’s top performing 3 point shooter, going 3/5. His shot is not as pure as Holmes or Lockett of East Nashville, but he showed range and out shot them from 3 tonight. As did the Stratford team, shooting 37% (7 of 19) to East’s 15% (3 of 20).
Best Underclassman: Mike Wallace of Stratford was 1 of only 2 underclassman who played a significant role in the game, most of his performance will be summed up in the following accolades.
Best Defensive Performance: Mike Wallace (F) had a fantastic defensive game blocking 4 shots and being a general defensive force inside. He changed more shots than he blocked with his strong challenges and was a force on the boards pulling down 13.
Stratford and East Nashville both played excellent defense, with both teams racking up 13 steals East Nashville Sr Guard Brian Thompson lead the way with 5 for East and Buford with a game leading 6 for Stratford.
Best Offensive Performance: Stratford Sophomore Forward Mike Wallace iced the game from the free throw line in the 4th quarter finishing with a game leading 17 points for Stratford.
Play of the Game: With 51.9 seconds to play and a 59-56 score Mike Wallace was trapped off of a rebound by Gene Holmes and Jayden Lockett, forcing a turnover, and giving East a chance to tie. On the following inbounds Ivan Buford steals a pass, leads the break, and Wallace throws down a huge dunk, that would be the last FG of the game, to put Stratford up 61-56.
MVP: Best Underclassman, Best Offensive Performance, Best Defensive performance, and the games leading shot blocker and rebounder… did you really have to read all the way to here to know Mike Wallace would be the game MVP? Stat line: 17 points, 13 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 1 huge dunk.
Best Story to Watch Going Forward: Stratford’s team is moving on to the Regional Championship game and has secured an automatic bid to the sub-state sectional. Stratford’s guard play is excellent, and will continue to be excellent, but foul prone Sophomore Mike Wallace’s development gives them a powerful big man that could take them deep into the state tournament. He will match up later this week against White’s Creek Sophomore Dylan Wade in a contest of big men with good interior footwork and average perimeter ballhandling skills. With strong guard play from both Whites Creek and Stratford their interior players may determine the R5AA Champion.
Best Aspect of the Environment: Gym at East Nashville was a sellout for game 1. An equally split crowd cheered passionately for both teams and saw a fantastic basketball game. The 4th quarter of the game threw waves of emotion through the crowd until Wallace’s dunk brought the house down, and his free throws iced half the crowd just as he iced away the game for Stratford. The rivalry is real, and I look forward to the next meeting between East Nashville and Stratford. This was a great game for any fan who was lucky enough to get through the door.