Maplewood-MLK Metro Dogfight

High School

Posted On: 02/14/18 7:27 PM

The Champions have fallen.  A little under a year after Maplewood Panthers and Head Coach Ty Wilson and graduated Bo Hodges won TSSAA AA State Championship MLK defeated Maplewood 45-43 in the opening round.  MLK took down Maplewood, 45-43 on a final minute three-pointer from Daryl Elliot.

The Panthers matured in 2017 from a team that won the final game of the basketball calendar to a team that lost the first playoff game on their basketball calendar.

With the Wednesday night win MLK’s Royals face East Nashville Friday at East Nashville High School.

Final Gasp

Jalen Alexander (Maplewood) answered a Desmond Davis (MLK) with a shoulder-barging lefty layup.  The Panthers truly lacked much offensive innovation most of the game.  The chances they created tended to be one-on-one chances concocted out of desperation rather than coach creation.

The lack of a floor general put Maplewood in a pickle.

Jalen Alexander lifted up again a minute later to help Maplewood open a rare two-possession lead, 39-35 with 3:25 remaining.

When Maplewood held the basketball at 1:00 down 43-42 it seemed oddly confident.  When they passed it without penetration all the way into the 40’s it felt misguided.

But R.T. Wilcox caught the basketball in the corner and passed it underneath to Alexander on the low block.  Alexander shoveled to the opposing block, giving Taurus Nelson an easy, but imperative bucket.

Only a difficult Elliot three-pointer from 20′ kept Nelson’s layup from being the winning basket.

R.T. Wilcox took a hurried three-pointer at the horn to no avail.

If at First You Don’t Succeed

Maplewood Head Coach Ty Wilson didn’t like what he saw.  The first couple minutes of a single elimination playoff contest between his Maplewood Panthers and hosts MLK Royals revealed general Panther apathy.

RT Wilcox handled the ball most of the game for Maplewood in Hodges’ absence.

Reigning State Champions Maplewood walked into MLK without their best player, BoBo Hodges.  Hodges was serving the second game of his two-game suspension.  Had Maplewood won he would have returned Friday against East Nashville.

Defensively, Maplewood opened in a 2-3 zone.  Desmond Davis hit an early three-pointer.

Maplewood coughed up a turnover and on the ensuring Royal possession the hometeam collected two offensive rebounds.  Finally they scored and Maplewood looked lethargic.

MLK played frisky in the opening quarter, leading 10-8 at one point.

Overall the Maplewood start looked disturbingly like the first game back after Christmas break.  The players lacked cohesion.  Worse, they didn’t fight for defensive rebounds.  MLK doesn’t have world-beaters, but any team can punish you with two and three shots per possession.

R.T. Wilcox missed three two-foot layups in the first quarter alone.

Outside shooting

When Austin Anderson (Maplewood) hit his early second quarter three-pointer Maplewood finally found some fire.  The reigning state champions lacked any semblence of aggression or investment in the opening quartter.

With the newfound energy the ball started to move.  Passes found recipients with some zip on them.  Movement off the ball became crisp and meaningful.

As the outside shooting set MLK’s agenda in the first quarter, Alexander’s  triple and Wilcox’s 15′ jumper established the largest first half scoring gap.  Maplewood lead 20-14 and clearly took command of the tempo.

It should have the beginning of the end, as Maplewood possessed more experience winning along with 2016-2017 All-State Selection R.T. Wilcox.

Too Tight

The game shouldn’t have been so close.

Because Maplewood missed many short shots and committed an uncommon amount of turnovers the game was close.

It was tied at 35-35 after MLK finished an and 1.  With 5:22 MLK was struggling to keep up with Maplewood, but they were tied all the same.

At 41-40, Maplewood allowed Desmond Davis to return to the free throw line.  He lived there in the fourth quarter.  He squared the game at 41-41.

If Elliot is the hero, Davis is the sidekick.  He put MLK in the position to succeed.

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