Posted On: 03/16/21 8:46 PM

The State Tournament opened with several wonderful defensive performances.

Check the 2021 rankings.
Check the 2023 rankings

Ja’van Lynn (Pearl-Cohn)

Built like a young Nate Robinson, Ja’van Lynn simply played faster and more physical than every guard on the floor.  His lower body strength is tremendous.

Kobe Ward Kobe Ward 5'11" | PG Jackson South Side | 2022 State TN (Jackson South Side)

Kobe checked wonderful, slinky guard Meechie Bowens Meechie Bowens 6'0" | SG Howard Tech | 2021 State TN .  The tenacity and persistence of quick-footed Ward frustrated and slowed Bowens tremendously.  Bowens, typically a 20 ppg scorer entered the fourth quarter with just three points.

Alex Rush Alex Rush 6'7" | PF Upperman | 2021 State TN (Upperman)

Alex Rush Alex Rush 6'7" | PF Upperman | 2021 State TN defended the rim against Pearl-Cohn wonderfully.  It was impressive how he controlled his body and avoided contact while still blocking and deterring short shots.  Rush was a great offensive threat and axle for the offense.  The team needed his defense even more than his offense.  Pearl-Cohn did not shoot that well from distance as a team, so their most effective route to the success was in the paint where Rush was waiting.

Zach Amonett Zach Amonett 6'2" | PG Pickett County | 2022 State TN (Pickett County)

A wonderful scorer.  Zach’s feet are very quick and he plays with a sound basketball mind and body.  “They decided when they were young that they wanted to play basketball,” said Pickett County Head Coach Joseph Amonett.  “I tried to work with them and teach them things that I was weakest at.  I got to college and couldn’t guard a dead man.  They have worked on understanding angles.  They understand the importance of playing defense.  Zach averages 23-24 points a game and he has no opportunities to not play defense.

Coach Amonett emphasized defense and still does.  Beyond that, Zach sits down and does the work. His feet are always moving.

“We defended.  We got into gaps.  They are a hot octane.  They want to score a lot of points.”

T.J. Woods T.J. Woods 6'4" | SF Bolivar Central | 2021 State TN (Bolivar Central)

Bolivar Central played incredibly scrappy.  It is their motus operandi without a doubt.  They love(d) to extend their defense and pressure the guards all over the floor.  Woods does not play guard for Bolivar, but he does trap with his guards and nobody gets their hands and arms in more cookie jars than Toris.  Quick, strong.  Disruptive.

Reid Satterfield (Greeneville) 

Satterfield endured the unenviable task of handling Toris T.J. Woods T.J. Woods 6'4" | SF Bolivar Central | 2021 State TN .  He did well against the angular, energetic wing scorer and rebounder.

Hunter Wattenbarger Hunter Wattenbarger 6'2" | SF Pickett County | 2022 TN (Pickett County)

Hunter was tasked with defending Cosby’s Trey Johnson, a Mr. Basketball finalist. Johnson routinely scored 25+ ppg this year.  Wattenbarger did a heroic job.

“He just sat down and guarded him.” said Pickett County Head Coach Joseph Amonett afterwards.  

What was the plan?

“Every shot, even at the rim, was contested,” Coach Amonett continued.  “We are not going to help him get the free throw line.”

Antonio Anthony Antonio Anthony 5'11" | PG Pearl Cohn | 2021 State TN (Pearl-Cohn)

Now a senior, Antonio Anthony Antonio Anthony 5'11" | PG Pearl Cohn | 2021 State TN earned his way into the player rankings way back in 2018 with natural strength, handle, and steady defense. His role with Pearl-Cohn was substantially bigger in 2021.  He must score, handle the offensive flow, find teammates.  Still, defending was important and served as the core of his balanced game.  Anthony intercepted a pass in the third quarter and quickly converted it into two points.


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