Posted On: 01/9/20 3:54 PM

Wednesday had a solid slate of games but one in particular that stood out was a battle between two top-10 teams from different classes going at it. Vanguard came into the week as the No.5 team in 3A and Northfield is a surprise team that has stood out that came into the week at No. 8 in 4A. This is a game that came down to the wire with the Nighthawks missing on the final shot and was a great battle that had a playoff-like atmosphere. Here are my five takeaways from the Coursers 63-62 win over the Nighthawks.

Stock boosters for the Nighthawks

Marcus Rogers is a player that is really starting to grow on me. He is shot ready and is going to get some good looks at the rim. Northfield does a good job of passing the ball around until they get an open look and he was able to capitalize on that. He hit a few outside shots, ran the break and hit a pull-up and also is a player that battles for boards as well. His 15 points kept Northfield in the game and he would’ve been the unsung hero had he been able to hit the last shot.

RaSheik Gaddis just gets better and better every time I see him. I was big on him at the showcases that I saw from this summer but seeing him put it all together when it matters is just as big. He plays under control and with pure confidence. He gets to the rim and finishes through traffic, he’s a really good perimeter defender and what goes overlooked is his timeliness. He seems to hit a big shot or answer back whenever a team seems to be gaining momentum or start a run. He finished with 11 points in the game and also had four steals to go along with it at the right time. 

X-Factors for Coursers make their mark

Junior guard Juan Bustamante is not a player that is known to score and plays very seldom but in Wednesday’s game, he stepped out of his shell and was able to contribute. He put up eight points in the game and stayed aggressive throughout the night. Typically, when there is a really good player the others around him are just so passive. He seemed ready to step up as well and not afraid of the moment. He made a three-pointer and got to some open spots under the rim so that his teammates could find him. He did not have a huge game but his impact was enormous.

Ryan Lair is having a decent year as he is putting up 7.2 points a game and also helping on the boards as well but on Wednesday he got in and contributed tremendously. In the Coursers best quarter of the evening, it was Lair who led the way to give Vanguard some momentum for the rest of the game. He knocked down two 3-pointers in the second quarter and finished with 10 points and the lead. He was not afraid to take shots and moved around until he got the shot that he wanted. He had a big impact on the game as well and is a player to watch moving forward.

Diego Dominguez is a true floor general

Senior guard Diego Dominguez is a high IQ player that controls the pace, remains on the attack and can also alter the game on both ends of the floor. He is a difficult player to guard as he can shoot the ball from deep, possesses a nice mid-range pull-up and also gets to the rim and finishes. He had some very big plays in the game where he brought Northfield back in the game. He hit some very big shots and made smart reads as the primary ball-handler and is a player that has boosted his stock and will help a small college.

Nahsyah Bolar is scary underrated

Northfield senior big man Nahsyah Bolar has been having an incredible year but in the biggest game that the Nighthawks have had this season, it was great to see him not shy away from the big moment and have his best game of the season. He impacted the game on both ends of the floor and was an inside presence that competed for each possession down. He uses his big frame to grab the board and his athleticism also kicked through for some tough boards and finishes. He could not be contained down low as he finished with a double-double of 19 points and 19 rebounds as well. He has shown that he is one of the most active bigs in the state and is not afraid to go at it with anybody. I am very high on him and that is while knowing he is nowhere close to his ceiling. Schools should be checking in soon.

 

Dominique Clifford is top dog

The man of the hour and player that everyone gathered to come to see came and delivered a performance that won over a few more supporters. He was methodical with his approach and differs from any other superstar that I have seen in quite a while because while he dominated it came in one of the most unselfish ways there was. He was not out there just taking ill-advised shots or forcing the issue but understood that the double-team was coming and out himself or his teammates in positions to score, knocked down any open look that he did get and also made himself a part of every single play. There was electric energy from the tip-off and he quickly let everyone know who he was as he started out the game with 15 points in the first quarter. Northfield adjusted and got the ball out of his hands quicker and he made them pay with his passing. Northfield then made a run late in the game in which they briefly took the lead and his takeover badge got activated again where he finished them off with 11 points in the final quarter. There was an underrated chant that started but then quickly faded as all in attendance knew that they saw a special performance. He put up 32 points in the game, had about eight blocks in the game and also had near 15 rebounds as well. He’s a top-2 player in the state in my opinion and it isn’t 2.