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Posted On: 08/28/18 12:00 PM
Just five months ago, the Olive Branch ‘Quistors were in Jackson, Mississippi celebrating a 64-44 win over Forest Hill to capture the 5A state championship.
Five months later, Olive Branch begins its quest to play inside the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson to defend its state title. The ‘Quistors lost their lone senior from last season’s title team in Kelvin Allen, but brings back a slew of talent that gives the team a legitimate chance of repeating.
It felt good for Olive Branch to hoist the 5A championship trophy at the end of last season. It felt so good that the ‘Quistors want to do it, again.
“I was kind of worried going into the summer to see if the boys would let off a little bit now they have won a championship and to see if they still had that hunger, that fire,” Olive Branch’s boys varsity basketball coach Eric Rambough said. “They have come back even hungrier.
“They know what it takes to win, and now they have, kind of, stepped it up a notch from where we were last year. We’re better now than we were at the end of last year.”
The ‘Quistors will have a tough gauntlet to get through this upcoming season as they will play a tough Bartlett team and a Memphis East High School team that will be led James Wiseman, Malcolm Dandridge, Antonio Thomas, and Jalen Brown.
But Olive Branch has the talent that can go up against a lot, if not all, of the teams on its schedule.
The ‘Quistors are expected to be led by the seniors, starting with 6-foot-7 small forward DJ Jeffries, who recorded 20 points and five rebounds in last season’s 5A title game. Jeffries, who recently reopened his recruitment after stepping off his pledge to Kentucky, was named the most valuable player in the title game.
“DJ has always been the player to lead by example, just with his work ethic and the way he goes about his daily business,” Rambough said. “But we’re looking for him to have more of a vocal role this year as well.”
Jeffries isn’t the only senior that Rambough will depend on. In the backcourt, Zion Cooper, 6-2, will be the team’s starting point guard. Both he and Jeffries are great competitors at practice and during games. The competitive nature between the two rubs off on the rest of the team.
Joshua Stevenson, a 6-3 shooting guard, will play in the backcourt alongside Cooper. Rambough calls him “our glue guy.” Stevenson is a two-sport athlete as he’s a wide receiver for the school’s football team.
The two juniors Rambough expects to make a contribution are Cameron Matthews and Wes Taylor. Matthews, a 6-5 small forward, has upper body strength and can bully his way into the paint for easy points. Matthews has already blossomed into a solid Division 1 prospect as he’s picked up offers from Ole Miss, Florida, and Memphis. Taylor, 5-10, is a solid backup point guard with quickness and solid ball handling skills. He can shoot from the outside.
Another player that could see the floor is 2020 point guard Kyron Pleas. Rambough has depth in the backcourt, along with experience all over the floor.