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Posted On: 03/5/18 10:08 AM
Prep Hoops takes a look at the lower half of the Class 5 Bracket and makes a few predictions on how some of the teams will do. We will also see who might be a sleeper and who has a great chance of advancing to the Final 4. This year’s State Tournament is loaded with talent and great competition from top to bottom. Because I am around the Kansas City area, I have watched the KC teams a little more, but have seen a little bit of everyone this year. The Bracket will also be shown below.
Christian Brothers College (CBC) vs Webster Groves
These two teams have some high flyers and it will be one entertaining game to watch. CBC has some talented players and one of the better guards in the state of Missouri in Caleb Love. Oh, and he’s only a sophomore. Love is a fun player to watch and a tough player to stop. He’s got some serious game. He’s got a solid pull up shot, can knock it down from deep, and can get to the rim at will. He’s a strong guard who can finish with the best of them. He’s got some major potential and might be the reason this team is able to move on. Josh Wallace is a solid 6’6″ big man that will be huge for this CBC team. He can give you 25 on any given night. He’s got great footwork and runs the floor extremely well. For a big man, he can also handle the ball pretty well and has the ability to take his man off the bounce. These two will have to lead this team if they plan on making any kind of run. They also might need someone like Jai Love to step up, who isn’t the biggest player on the court, but he’s a scrappy point guard who likes to get out in transition. CBC will have quite the task in facing Webster Groves, the reigning state champs from a year ago. Webster Groves is pretty solid, but have had to go through some adversity this season. Courtney Ramey who is a high major Guard has had to miss some time due to an injury, but since he’s come back, he’s really shown why he’s one of the best in the State. Ramey has shot the ball pretty well from deep this year, but he’s one of the most illusive guards in the state and is nearly impossible to keep off the score board. Ramey is a big strong guard who can get by his defender when he wants. He’s also great on the defensive end getting steal after steal. Carte’are Gordon is the Webster Groves big man. Gordon and Wallace should be a great matchup and the big man who brings it the most might be the one who picks up the win. Gordon can really bully others around in the post, and he has shown the ability to step it out and hit from about 15 ft. He’s fun to watch and is one of the leaders on this team alongside Ramey. Webster Groves will need a few of their role players to play well if they want to get back to the Championship game. Ray Adams is one of the best 3 point shooters in the state, but he’s not much of a dribble drive kind of guy. The other guards will need to drive and find him open behind the arc as he is more of a set shooter. RJ Wright has really stepped it up and has put together a pretty solid senior season. He will need to continue to play well down the stretch. This game might be a pretty good game, but I see Webster Groves getting by CBC here. They just have a few too many weapons. I think they will make it to the Final Four with they will battle Lee’s Summit West in a rematch of Last Year’s State Championship Game. Lee’s Summit West gets them this year.
Battle vs Ft. Zumwalt South
This game is going to be one of the better first round games and I’m pretty excited for it. Both of these teams have some great players that are very talented. For Battle, we have a team that can really do some damage. This could be the scariest team in the State Tournament and they have the opportunity to really do some damage. The only thing that worries me about Battle is that maybe they haven’t had to play the toughest competition down the stretch. None the less, they are still a very good basketball team. Trae Meny has proved that past few years how could he really is and he’s a tough player to stop. Meny has a pretty good looking shot and can score from pretty much anywhere on the court. He’s an unselfish player and doesn’t usually try to force anything. Point Guard Maricus Grant will have to continue to play well in order to win their first round game. He has the ability to score, but is also a fantastic passer. He’s great on the defensive end and finds himself in passing lanes quite often. Battle also has two other big men who really aren’t the biggest in height, but that doesn’t hurt them. Alex Smith has a lot of upside and is a really good ball player. He can really play anywhere on the court, but does whatever his team needs in order for them to win. This kid is a high flyer and is very entertaining. He’s a great player on and off the court. Jarel Hyler is a big body and is tough to get through. He’s a football player on the basketball court, but trust me, he’s a solid basketball player. Hyler is very strong and is tough to push around in the paint. Look for him to get some big buckets and big rebound that could decide a game or two in the tournament. On the other side, we have Ft. Zumwalt South who has a few good players as well. I’m not sure that there will be a better player than EJ Bellinger on the court that night. This could does it all for his team and is one of the better players in the state. He can defend, he can score, and he can soar! He’s a fun kid to watch with his solid pull up game as well as his ability to get to the bucket and finish. In order for Ft. Zumwalt South to get by Battle, they will need their entire team to play well. Darious Thomas is a big guard who turns defense into offense. He’s isn’t the best shooter on the court, but is very quick and uses his strength and speed to get to the bucket when needed. He will be a big factor for this team if they are able to win. JJ Schwenker can shoot lights out if given the opportunity. He will more than likely need to drill a couple of long balls. Also, don’t sleep on guard Aubrey Carter who is illusive and can score when his number is called. He’s got a decent shot and finds a way to finish at the rim here and there. I honestly think that Battle has a few too many weapons, but if they aren’t able to stop Bellinger, it could cost them. I will take Battle in a clost game here, but I think they will drop the next one to Webster Groves.
Lee’s Summit West vs Rockhurst
What a matchup this game will be. Rockhurst is loaded with talent all over the floor and most of them are Juniors which means they have a great opportunity at getting back to this point next season. Their loan Senior starter Xavier Rhodes is the real leader of this team. A high overlooked guard who is very athletic and more of a slashing guard is fun to watch. He’s very quick and finishes at the bucket very well. He’s great on both ends of the ball and will be looking to pull off a decent upset. He will have his hands full with one of the best in the State in this Lee’s Summit West team. West had a hiccup in the middle of the season due to some players missing games either on disciplinary reasons or recruiting trips. Now that they are back to full strength, they have been playing some of the best ball I’ve seen this season. They probably have the best Front Court in Missouri with Bigs Christian Bishop and Yor Anei. Both of these guys having been playing very well as of lately, and they are very tough to stop. They can dunk almost anything that is near the rim, and they both have a little mid range at times as well. They both are big time defenders as well. Not as much on the ball, but when the opposing team is driving to the bucket, you have two kids that are 6’7″ or taller to try and score on. Not an easy task. Lee’s Summit West also has guards Mario Goodrich, Phillip Brooks, and newcomer Rich Johnson. Rich Johnson can shoot with the best of them, but can be streaky at times. He’s averaging around 15 a game and has really been a huge addition for this team. Brooks on the other hand isn’t the best scorer on the team, but is out there for his defense and basketball IQ. He’s a hard worker, and tough on ball defender. Mario Goodrich does it all. Not a huge scorer usually, but he can lead this team on any given night. He’s a very athletic guard who can throw it down with the best of them. He’s very quick and likes to get in the passing lanes. Rockhurst has some great guards as well. Glenn McClintock has one of the best mid range games in the area. Tyler Nelson is just starting to realize how good he can be. He’s an athletic guard who can shoot from the outside or get by his defender at any given time. They are both Juniors. They also have 3 Junior big guys who are all over 6’4″. Darrius Hughes is a big body who get a lot of rebounds and has really improved his jump shot. He’s great when he’s down in the post, and can really push others around. AJ White looks like a linebacker out there, and he plays like one as well. Knows his body really well and is quite nifty. He’s got a pretty good touch as long as he stays confident. He’s also a pretty decent on ball defender. Dalen Ridgnal is the last of the 3. He’s not as big, but more of a lengthy big man. He’s got a great shot from 17 on in and plays above the rim. His positivity is what keeps this team going. This game really can go either way, I’m going to take Lee’s Summit West. I’m also going to take Lee’s Summit West to do almost exactly what they did last year and make it to the Championship game. I just think they might take it home this year though.
Liberty vs Park Hill
These two teams can be two of the most entertaining teams to watch around the metro area, and maybe in the state of Missouri. Both have big team senior leaders who have had amazing high school basketball careers and I know plenty of kids who look up to them. Ronnie Bell for the Park Hill Trojans only stands around 6’0″ tall, but if there is a player that you have to watch, it is him. He’s so entertaining, and what I mean by that is he really can do it all. He can shoot the ball and isn’t afraid of pull up from 25 ft at any given time, but he can also rise up and jam it on you. This kid is a high flyer and in my opinion, he is the most entertaining player in the state of Missouri. Jalen Lewis for the Liberty Bluejays is an amazing ball player as well. He’s a great kid on and off the court, but he’s just looking to make a run for the State Championship now. He runs the offense for the Bluejays and keeps this team going. If given any kind of space, he’s going to pull the trigger. One of the best 3 point shooters in the state of Missouri and the all-time leading scorer for the Liberty Bluejays, he has a quick trigger and works harder than almost any other player I know. Both teams rely on these two players and will need them to really step up their game if they want to make a run. Park Hill also has a lengthy big man in Cecil Lee who makes it tough for opposing teams to finish around the bucket. He’s a skilled athletic big who gets a lot of blocks and a lot of rebounds. He also plays above the rim on the offensive side. They also have Haden Wallace who is a hustler and hard nose basketball player. On the other end, Liberty has a few kids who can really shoot the ball. Logan Steenstra and Brock Matson are both seniors for this Liberty Bluejay team, and they are big time shooters. Not only that, but they have great size and can get their shot off quick and with any space. Don’t sleep on big man Tavis Turner in the paint though. This kid isn’t the biggest, but he’s a fundamental basketball player who doesn’t try to force anything. Because this Liberty team has so many shooters, I’m going to pick them to get by Park Hill. It’s going to be a great game, but I’m not sure Park Hill will be able handle the Liberty shooters. This game can honestly go either way, and if Ronnie Bell is on fire, watch out!