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Posted On: 03/8/18 1:15 PM
Garfield Heights continued its maturation process and is turning into that scary team so many thought they’d be at the beginning of the year.
Alonzo Gaffney (2019) scored 8 and Demetrius “Meechie” Johnson (2021) dished out seven assists, grabbed four rebounds, scored 5 points and played an absolute stellar floor game to lead the Bulldogs to a 39-31 win over Warren Harding in a Division I District semifinal win at Solon.
The Bulldog move on to play the winner of tonight’s Shaker Heights v. Cleveland Central Catholic game on March 10 at 4 p.m. at Solon High
It wasn’t pretty, but high school tournament basketball is not a beauty contest. Like the late Jim Valvano so famously said, it’s survive and advance at this point.
“We are finally starting to play like a team,” Garfield Heights coach Sonny Johnson said.
Brison Waller (2019), a 6’9” post presence, shook off a shaky start to the contest and finished with six points and four rebounds. His length and athleticism in the paint played a huge factor in the win.
In a world where mixtapes of crossovers and dunks shoot players up ranking boards, 6’5” Donovan Forte (2018) put on a clinic of how to do the little things and help your team win.
Early in the first quarter Garfield trailed 4-0 and looked totally disjointed after turning the ball over twice. Forte, who has committed to Jacksonville, came off the bench and quickly got a steal off an inbound pass and scored to help steady the Bulldogs. He’d finish the game with six points and five rebounds.
Here are five observations from the Garfield wins
1. Keandre Graves (2018) OR bucket
In the first quarter Graves came up with a big stick back basket and drawing the foul in the process. He screamed as he hit the floor and you got the feeling the Bulldogs let out a collective sigh of relief.
2. Julian Whiteside’s shooting
Whiteside (2018) is a 5’10” microwave off the bench. He hit a pair of 3-pointers, including a backbreaker at the end of the third quarter that came after Garfield held the ball for the final 80 seconds of the period.
3. Gaffney’s outside shooting
Gaffney’s ranked in the top 25 in the country in the class of 2019. The 6’9″wing showed off the versatility of his game by draining a pair of 3-pointers in the final 90 seconds of the second quarter that allowed Garfield to take a 10-point lead at the half. He also had a thunderous two-hand dunk and altered shots inside with his length.
4. Meechie didn’t Wilt
It was a rough start of the game for the highly-touted 6’0″freshman point guard. He turned the ball over on Garfield’s first possession, airmailed a corner 3-ball that was about five feet too long and had another jump shot get caught between the rim and the backboard. But he stayed in the game mentally. He hit a huge 3 ball late in the first half during a key 8-0 run and his defensive rebounding allowed Garfield to control tempo.
5. Harding gave Garfield all it could handle
Harding landed the proverbial punch in the face to the Bulldogs early when it jumped out to a 7-2 lead. But Garfield’s length and 3-point shooting was too much to overcome. Dom McGhee (2019), a 6’0” junior, scored 10 points to lead Harding. He has the skills and athletic ability to play at the next level.