Posted On: 03/2/18 1:06 PM
In an evenly matched and tightly officiated game Stratford edged Whites Creek 78-71 for the Region 5 AA Championship. With the help of 30 combined first half points from Dennis Stallings and Dylan Wade, Whites Creek took a 40-33 advantage into the half. 6 players contributed to a furious Stratford 22-4 run to start the 3rd quarter, only to see White’s creek answer with a 10-0 run of their own that cut the lead to 55-54. They would get no closer as Stratford got a strong 4th quarter from Kevonte Boyd, Juwon Carpenter, and Mike Wallace, who all played with 4 fouls, to hold on for the win 78-71.
Whites Creek is solid
Take nothing away from the Regional Runner Up White’s Creek. They have a good team with very strong guards in Dennis Stallings and Isaiah Bowers, a great big man and big matchup problem Dylan Wade, and very athletic wing/forward players who are good defenders and can score when they need to in Rashawn Richardson, George Woods, and Chad Haywood.
Wade showed his ability to both catch and score with his back to the basket in the post, and off the drive from the perimeter. His midrange and long-range shots have potential to develop into something that could make him a matchup nightmare. His shot is fundamentally sound, and he plays solid defense in the post. After having a 17-point first half he was cooled by foul trouble in the second half, but still finished with a tied-for-game-high 25 points.
Dennis Stallings is a fantastic scorer. He is the type of player that you think takes a bunch of 3s, but his head fake is just that good. Looking back through the statistics from the past 2 games he has only made 1 3-point shot, but his point totals were still 29 for the semi and 25 for the final because of his fantastic driving ability. He can knock down shots inside (and outside) the 3-point line, but his real killer is the drive. Teams know it is coming and still cannot stop it. He is always checked by the opponent’s best defender, but sometimes he still makes getting to the basket look like a cone drill.
Outside of their 2 big scorers Isaiah Bowers chipped in 11 points, 9 of which came during a 3rd quarter where Whites Creek struggled. He was the primary ball handler when Stallings was not. He has good vision, good handles, and hit good offensive entry passes. He may not be the team’s primary scorer, but his performance in the 3rd kept the game close.
Stratford is a matchup nightmare
Stratford’s team was lead by its all district players tonight. After a slow start they quickened the 2nd half pace, scoring 46 points in the 2nd stanza. The night was blown open by a 22-4 run in which 5 players scored. For the second straight game the story of the 3rd quarter was a stop on defense and an offensive score from Stratford. There was a time in the game where it seemed sure they were getting points every time they touched the ball. However, Whites Creek fought back and 22-4 run did not finish them off.
After a 10-0 White’s Creek run from the late 3rd to early 4th quarters Stratford’s Kevonte Boyd broke the run with a free throw followed by a huge corner 3. He is a very difficult player to guard. Playing primarily on the perimeter he has the ability to both drive and shoot the 3, but he has the footwork and post ability to score with his back to the basket. If you guard him with a smaller player he can beat them up in the post or will need to be doubled, and if you guard him with a big guy he has blow-by ability and can hit the 3. It was no surprise he took a turn being the team’s leading scorer this evening, racking up 25 points on the night, 17 in the 2nd half.
Mike Wallace again played a fantastic game against great competition. As usual he was eating up offensive and defensive boards, blocking shots, and scoring points. He even hit a 3. He was clutch again this evening as 10 of his 17 points came after the half. His perimeter defensive game will need to continue to improve as it was a leading factor in his foul trouble, but, if he can stay on the floor, he is a very dangerous player.
Juwon Carpenter is another big guard with excellent driving ability. His length on defense bothers the guards he is defending and he has excellent vision; running the point and finding open players. He put the game on ice from the free throw line and was able to find Wallace for a layup on the basket that put the game out of reach (72-65). He finished with 10 points, 8 in the 2nd half.
Ja’Hari Reed is another big guard/wing player. He can be dominant but will take what the other team gives him. Tonight, he finished with 8 points and was a major contributor in the 22-4 run that put Stratford in position to win the game. He was able to defend without fouling and played unselfish basketball.
Foul Trouble, Tightly called game
Whites Creek and Stratford wanted to play fast and physical, but the officials were calling a tight game. They did not make many calls I disagreed with and were in good position throughout the game. However, the whistles were frequent, and included 2 technical fouls. Because of this 6 players, 3 from each team, finished the game with 4 fouls. Boyd, Wallace, Carpenter, and Wade played a majority of the 4th quarter with 4 fouls. Playing smart and clean defense all 4 guys were able to stay in the game until the end. The lone foul-out came from Whites Creek’s Chad Haywood midway in the 4th quarter.
Start 55 WC 51 pic.twitter.com/7khleU1TWc
— Garrett Halstead (@halsteadhoopsTN) March 2, 2018
By virtue of their win Stratford will host Fairview Monday March 5 for the Sub-State Sectional.
Whites Creek travel to Nolensville Monday March 5 for their Sub-State Sectional.
Interview with Coach Reed
I caught up with Stratford’s Coach Reed after the game, and asked him to talk about what this means to him and to the program, “To be able to see these kids have the success they have had, to see everything they have done, everything they put in, the hard work they put in. I’m extremely proud of every kid… our JV, our Varsity, all these kids worked for this.” He went on “I can’t even express how proud I am of these guys, from the best starter we got all the way down to the kid doing the most menial things… I am proud of every kid who has played for my team this year.”
Congratulations to Coach Reed and the entire Stratford Basketball family on their Region 5 AA Championship.
Check out his full comments and the full interview here:
— Garrett Halstead (@halsteadhoopsTN) March 2, 2018