Posted On: 11/29/18 11:56 AM

It was a west end battle on the beautiful campus of the Collegiate School, and the early season showdown did not disappoint. A senior ladened Collegiate team led by Northwestern commit Robbie Beran, although they were “missing” one of their stars in Ayinde Budd, who later suited up but did not start, against a young and talented Steward group led by the #1 player in the 2021 class Efton Reid.

Steward jumped all over Collegiate early, as they hit their first five shots from the behind the arc and jumped out to a 15-2 lead. The veteran Collegiate group settled in and got some stops, and battled back to make it 30-19 at half. Coming out of the half, Collegiate targeted Reid and went right at him, having him pick up two fouls in the first three minutes of the third, giving him four for the game. With him on the bench, Collegiate continued to chip away at the lead and it was 41-34 at the end of three. Steward reentered Reid at the beginning of the fourth, and he picked up his fifth foul on the very first play of the quarter.

While it looked like the momentum was going to switch in favor of Collegiate, the young Steward backcourt stepped up big for them. Down the stretch they took care of the basketball, made their free throws and made some big defensive plays to help secure a big 63-47 win.

MVP: Isaiah Simmons | Steward 2021

Isiah Simmons

Simmons transferred in from Cosby this season and has made an immediate impact for Steward in his first two games. He finished with an impressive 20 points and four assists, but what was most impressive was the way he handled pressure all day and the toughness he showed coming back from an injury. He only turned the basketball over three times three times the whole game with them pressing hard in the fourth quarter. He was also big from the line, hitting eight of his ten made free throws in the second half.

Play of the Game

Toward the end of the third quarter, Northwestern commit Robbie Beran showed off his athleticism, length and defensive prowess with a big time chase down block. Simmons came off the ball screen and looked like he was wide open for a layup when Beran came from the top of the key and threw the shot into the stands.

Best Offensive Performer: Isiah Simmons | Steward 2021

At 5’7”, Simmons is far from the biggest guy but he’s able to get buckets because he’s quick, gets to the line and he can score from all three levels. He finished tied for a game high 20 points, and made plays for others finishing with 4 assists. Early on Simmons showed his quickness and shot making ability, but it was at the line where he really hurt Collegiate. He was 10-for-16 from the line, hitting eight of them in the second half down the stretch and he was the catalyst after big man Efton Reid was fouled out early.

Best Defensive Performer: Robbie Beran | Collegiate 2019

Robbie Beran

The Northwestern commit is known for being 6’9” and able to put it on the deck and get to the basket, but one of his most underrated areas is as a defender and rim protector. Beran blocked four shots, two of them in chase down fashion, and he took a charge toward the end of the game. He was also a big reason that Steward big man was in foul trouble as he gave him fits on both ends of the floor.

Best Guy off the Bench: Mac McDonald | Collegiate 2021

Mac McDonald

It’s hard to imagine that McDonald will come off the bench for the entire season. While Collegiate is an experienced group and McDonald is only a sophomore, he showed that he’s one of their most deadly weapons on the entire team with his ability to knock down shots from deep. At 6’2”, McDonald has a solid frame and deep range. He was 4-for-6 from deep on the night finishing with 14 points on the game, and he’ll be a guy Coach Harris will be calling things up for this year.

Best Intangibles: Zach Rosenthal | Steward 2021

Zach Rosenthal

Another young guard for Steward who stepped up big in the absence of Reid, Rosenthal was the most efficient guy offensively and one of the top playmakers defensively in the game as well. He finished with 14 points, going 4-for-4 from deep, 4-for-5 from the field and 2-for-2 from the free throw line. Throw in four steals and a huge charge he took on Beran in the fourth quarter and you realize that Steward School would not have won the game without him.

Best Under the Radar Performer: Alex Fabiato | Steward 2019

Alex Fabiato

Standing all of about 5’9”, Fabiato is one of the more experienced guys on Steward’s team, and he’s shown great improvement over the past couple of seasons. This game was one of the best I’ve seen from him in the past few years. The off guard finished with 14 points and three rebounds, but it was the stuff that didn’t show up on the stat sheet that was most impactful. Fabiato is the heart and soul of the team, he’s the leader and he plays with the most energy, and while there are guys who are more talented than them he’s going to have to be the captain that guides this ship moving forward.

Best Underclassman: Efton Reid | Steward 2021

Efton Reid

He didn’t play much, I know, it wasn’t fair. After picking up two fouls in the first half, Reid picked up two back-to-back fouls in the first two minutes of the third quarter on questionable calls contesting shots without leaving his feet, then picked up his fifth on the first play of the fourth quarter on a not so great charge call. Still, in the limited time he played he showed what makes him the top prospect in the state. At 6’11”, he commands a double team every time he touches the ball, he’s a good passer out of the post and he’s a natural rim protector with his length. While he wasn’t able to show a ton of it last game, he remained positive and helped his teammates wherever he could, which is also very impressive from the young man.

Best Guy off the Bench 2: Jabari Atkinson | Steward 2020

Atkinson is the type of kid you root for because he’s been through a lot as far as injuries but he’s remained positive and is so nice every time you see him. After a rough start, the sixth man stepped up in the second half chipping in a big six points including some big free throws down the stretch. He’s still a little rusty as he’s coming back from knee surgery, but expect Atkinson to play a big role down the stretch for the Spartans as he gets healthy and back to form.

Best Aspect of the Environment: Winning Celebration

It wasn’t hard to tell that the young Steward squad was excited about being their West End rivals, as they celebrated with each other, their fans and their families after the win. As I tried to get headshots and interviews with some of the kids, I was surrounded by close to 50 people on the court trying to take pictures, congratulate the kids and just celebrate with them. All of this and it wasn’t even their court! With that kind of support and a young, talented squad expect Steward School to be a tough out for anyone.