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Posted On: 07/14/18 12:29 AM
Entering Friday evening Bluff City Legends 17u squared with Team Takeover (DC) for the rights to play Peach Jam’s coveted quarterfinals Saturday. As both teams entered at 3-1 and the Oakland’s Soldiers already earned a 4-1 record either Bluff City Legends or Team Takeover could advance. There can be only one…along with the Oakland Soldiers.
And that one is Team Takeover. The black-and-orange D.C. unit buried Bluff City 70-52 with a counterattacking second half flurry.
The hype surrounding the game was massive. Team Takeover finished the EYBL regular season unblemished, but needed the win to advance. Bluff City wanted to advance and even challenge for a Peach Jam crown in their first year without the Team Penny moniker.
More on Penny later.
The hype magnified as the game opened with TTO’s 40+ fans chanting “TTO” for the tip.
On Bluff City’s opening offensive attack Chandler Lawson drove and scored against Justin Moore (Nova verbal). The and-1 wrapped with Chandler stating to Team Takeover Head Coach “He too little coach.”
Most of the gym heard Chandler as he was about to shoot the free throw and the crowd instinctively hushed. It was quite a statement from the relatively quiet in-game Lawson brother.
Team Takeover surprisingly owned the offensive glass in the opening push. James Wiseman, DJ Jeffries, and Chandler Lawson started next to Mark Freeman and Amorey Womack. As lengthy as that frontline is DJ and Chandler struggled to get their complete hands on the loose defensive rebounds.
Team Takeover did so much damage on the offensive glass early that Bluff City Legends Head Coach Todd Day instantly injected Malcolm Dandridge. And that helped. Malcolm played most of the first half and for stretches Bluff City leaned on him to rebound at both ends.
Bluff City managed to wrangle the lead away from Team Takeover with Dandridge’s excellent offensive rebounding.
So much attention was spent on keeping James Wiseman from the glass that Dandridge frequently darted in unabated from the high post. His play was very encouraging.
Coach Todd Day tried out Mark Freeman, Ashton Smith, and Keishawn Davison (pictured left) with the massive frontline. Frankly, none of them created enough problems. DJ Jeffries was either timid or bored. Either way he didn’t find the basket at his usual rate. Chandler Lawson did well in spurts, but doesn’t really own the breakdown handle needed against elite guard defenders like Moore, Anthony Harris, and Jeremy Roach.
The deadly shooting Freeman showed off in warmups did not translate into the game. He was ice cold from deep and failed to stretch out the Takeover man-to-man defenders. Ashton did well transitioning from defensive to offensive ends. He did not present any scoring threats in the halfcourt.
Keishawn actually did burst by defenders. He didn’t offer any shots in the lane, but made three sharp passes to cutting bigs. His vision was the best of the three in halfcourt operations. Davison also coughed the ball up several times and didn’t see many minutes overall.
Observing from the sidelines were Penny Hardaway, John Calipari, and Kentucky Assistant Coach Tony Barbee, Archie Miller, and Bruiser Flint (pictured below).
Archie Miller is Indiana Head Coach and Bruiser is Indiana’s Assistant Coach. In Tennessee the thought tends to be James Wiseman will ultimately decide between Memphis and Kentucky, but Indiana invested the time watching James Wiseman Friday night.
You might not remember, but Archie and Bruiser tried to pull in Darius Garland late in his recruitment. They actually finished in his final five. One preseason practice back in September 2018 at Brentwood Academy the pair of coaches dropped in to meet his family and evaluate Darius. Though it didn’t materialize it is interesting to see Indiana hunting from talent in Tennessee. Former Hoosier Head Coaches Tom Crean and Mike Davis didn’t consider it a state worth recruiting, though they picked up several Alabama players (Christian Watford, D.J. White).
It is the end of an era for Bluff City as this 17u unit was the one cobbled together by Penny Hardaway himself. James Wiseman came from Nashville and the St. Louis Eagles (Brad Beal Elite) to join. DJ Jeffries left Team Thad 15u a couple years ago. Judging by Memphis fans and coaches this was the best Penny could find…and they failed to make the Peach Jam quarterfinals in 2017 and 2018.
With Chandler Lawson unlikely to stay at Memphis East this will probably be the last time he, Malcolm Dandridge, and James Wiseman share a uniform. They accomplished plenty together and they gave the state of Tennessee a thrill.
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