Posted On: 11/27/18 3:51 PM

Last night, Smoky Hill and George Washington competed in a Top-10 match-up to kickstart the season. While many wondered how George Washington would look after back to back seasons in which the team lost in the state championship others got to see just how good Smoky Hill could be in Kenny Foster’s Senior season. It is going to be interesting following both teams as the season moves along. Here’s what happened in the opening game of the season.

Kenny Foster is the real deal

Foster is the No. 1 player in the state and he surely played like it last night putting plenty of pressure on the competition as he goes on his quest at Mr. Basketball and also a state title run. Foster had 28 points as he attacked the rim relentlessly and also showcased that he has great court awareness as he made countless no look passes to open teammates. Foster definitely looked the part as the best player in the state as he went on scoring runs of his own and dominated throughout the night. Wonder if he can keep up this type of scoring games. 

Battle of the Guards

An interesting battle throughout the whole night was the battle of the guards. Although it was essentially a blow-out there was plenty of trash talking and going at each other between GW guard JoVon Nelson and Buffaloes pg Quentin Rock.

Nelson is a smaller guard that is a tenacious defender that picks his spots and attacks. He is asked to take on a whole new role as a scorer and he knocked down a few jumpers late in the game after a slow start. He isn’t afraid of the competition and brings it each play down.

On the other side was Rock. Rock at this moment looks like he might very well be the best point guard in the state. He is a player that creates for others, can’t be left open and attacks the rim as well as any guard in the state. He finishes with either hand, it a deadly shooter and plays solid perimeter defense. Rock is a true point guard that can do whatever it is he wants and on Monday to open up the season he showed just that when he went for 17 points and had more than enough assists to go along with it.

George Washington has been here before

George had a rough showing as they were down by 20 points for a majority of the night. The Patriots did however end up losing by 14 but that was well after the Buffaloes took out the starters. The good thing is the Patriots have been here before. The Patriots started out last season by losing by over 20 points before getting comfortable and going on an impressive run. Life is about making mistakes and learning from them and I truly believe that the Patriots will watch film, work on the things that they did not do well and fix those things moving forward. That was a good team that they lost to and did not have a particularly well start of the game.

George Washington will have to make adjustments

One thing that really stood out to me was the lack of adjustments that were made throughout the game. Foster got going early and they never adjusted defensively on how they guarded him and also on the offensive end it took way too long to realize that Kendale Johnson had to get involved from the inside out in the zone. The Patriots are going to get zoned this year – a lot. So, with knowing that a zone is coming by starting out the game with Kendale on the block and working his way out after a few finishes at the rim seems to be the best idea. They went to it late in the game and that’s how he got going but making those changes early can go a long way. Zone offense is a must in the next few practices.

Underclassmen shine

While there is a plethora of reasons as to why Smoky Hill was so dominant it came down to them being so deep and

Two players that stood out for me and will continue to progress as the season goes along is Jalen Weaver and Jordan Whitaker. Both of these players are now getting time on varsity after playing a bit of jv last season and will be asked to do a lot more on a group mixed with upper and lower classmen. In the game they showed that they can find open spots and be ready for passes, what really stood out is how both players moved without the ball and finished at the rim. I am really intrigued by Weaver as he has the intangibles to be a great scorer come senior season. He can play off-ball and also be a playmaker that creates and I’m sure that more will emerge as the season progresses.

For the Patriots, it was Malik Patton and of course Kendale Johnson Jr. that stood out. Patton is raw and when he comes into his own, watch out. He has very good size and also a great motor as he goes after every rebound. He gave the Patriots multiple second chances as he soars for rebounds and also goes up quickly not giving the defender a chance to steal or block it. I am excited to see how he progresses as well.

Alongside him is Kendale. Kendale is our top sophomore in the state and at times he showed it. He got himself going after a rough start and he will have to get out of his own head moving forward when things aren’t going his way. It will be nice to see Kendale attack defenders at the rim instead of settling for jump shots especially with his size and how much momentum he gathers as there was a few chances in Monday night’s game for him to either finish at the rim and force the defender to foul him or dunk right over their head. He still finished with 17 points. There aren’t many players that can stop him at the rim and even if they do they will have to think twice. Only with having an aggressive Kendale will the Patriots prosper and let’s hope that it starts next game.