The 2nd game of Friday’s TSSAA AAA Boy’s Basketball Semifinal featured Memphis East (28-3) and Bearden (38-2). East had a strong 1st quarter push, but Bearden played hard trailing 19-15 after the 1st. Bearden would stay aggressive and take a 33-30 lead into the locker room. After exchanging runs coming out of halftime the game would be tied at 52 to start the 4th quarter. East would break through in the 4th taking a 20-8 advantage in the final frame to hold on for a 72-60 victory.
- Underclassman of the gameJohnathan Lawson was one of three underclassman to play in the game. He logged 18 minutes, scoring two points, dishing out three assists (including a nice ally oop to his brother Chandler Lawson), and playing solid defense.
- Best Guy off BenchLaquincy Parker made the most of his 9 minutes off the bench for East. He was efficient from the field, going three for four and totaling six points to go along with three rebounds and two steals.
- Best intangiblesAlex Lomax plays excellent defense and paces a strong Memphis East offensive attack. He was able to get to the paint again this evening and distribute to his teammates, but also took shots when the opportunity presented itself. He was a clutch eight for eight from the free throw line to lead his team with 18 points.
- Best under the radarDrew Pember showed he could play against bigger and stronger players today. With so much size and strength on the court for Memphis East Pember had a lot of responsibility on defense. He was able to bother East’s talented big men on the block and even stepped outside to guard Chandler Lawson on the wing.
- Play of the gameAlex Lomax had a great offensive rebound and found James Wiseman under the basket for an open dunk. The game was still very much in question, but with that play you could feel the momentum shifting in East’s favor.
- Best RebounderChandler Lawson showed considerable rebounding ability from his wing position. At six-feet-eight-inches he was not the largest player on the court, but he had the best nose for the ball. He collected 11 rebounds to go along with his 17 points.
- Coaching Strategy Bearden did not back down from a larger quicker Memphis East team. They took the ball into the paint and got to the free throw line. On defense they packed the lane and contested every shot. With East in foul trouble they had trouble finding a rhythm. They were successful in forcing East to the free throw line, but they were able to connect on 21 of their 27 attempts.
- Guys that deserve to be mentionedBearden Guards Jacques Glover and Trent Stepheny played their hearts out all evening. They were very skilled ball handlers and were very aggressive going to the basket. There are not many players around that can dribble through a Memphis East press, but that is exactly what both of those guys did. They were getting around strong perimeter defenders and getting to the paint to either shoot or kick out for a 3 point look. They were big reasons Bearden stayed in the game. Glover finished with 14 points and three steals, Stepheny added 11 points and three rebounds.
- Most outstanding defensive playerJames Wiseman is a force in the paint. He had some foul trouble but had three blocks in his 16 minutes. When he was on the floor he forced elbow jumpers and floaters instead of strong layups.
- Most outstanding offensive player
Chandler Lawson had a very efficient night offensively. On his way to a 17 point 11 rebound performance he shot 6 of 9 from the field and 5 of 6 from the free throw line, and found his teammates on three assist opportunities.
- Game most outstanding
Alex Lomax was both the leader of the team on both offense and defense and their leading scorer with 18. In addition to his points he dished out seven assists and had five rebounds in the hotly contested win. He is a complete high school level point guard, and I look forward to watching him play in the championship tomorrow.
- Up next
Memphis East will take on Whitehaven (24-6) for the AAA State Championship Saturday March 17 at 1:00 PM.