Legacy Charter (SC) 2021 guard Jacobi Wright. [MARCUS HELTON]
SALISBURY, MD - In one of the 2019 Governor’s Challenge’s most highly-anticipated matchups, it was guard play that made the difference.
Legacy Early (SC) 2021 guard Jacobi Wright scored 22 points and 2021 wing Ike Cornish added 15 points and 8 rebounds to lead the Lions to a 66-62 win over Neumann-Goretti (Pa.) in a meeting of nationally-ranked squads at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center.
“When a team - especially when they’re ranked higher than us - you want to go out there and show them that we’re better than anybody we step on the floor with,” Cornish said. “It’s exciting playing against ranked teams because when we get the win we’re excited, but we want to move on to the next one and keep going.”
The game was tight early, with Neumann-Goretti going up 16-10 after one quarter and 24-20 at the half. Legacy grabbed control in the third quarter, though, outscoring the Saints 20-13 in the frame to seize control.
“I just want to say we made adjustments,” the 6-foot-2 Wright said. “Our coaches made some adjustments and we just ran our sets and executed on offense. Then on defense we made some adjustments and started switching, and that kind of slowed the other team down, and once we got stops we executed on offense and played it out from there.”
The 6-foot-6, 190-pound Cornish - a transfer from Dulaney (Md.) - has settled in nicely with Legacy, and got to watch his old teammates face off against Monsignor Bonner-Prendergast (Pa.) right before his game.
“It’s been good, I’ve just been taking everything in, he said. “School is different, too, so I’ve been adjusting, but it’s been good, though, and I’ve been getting better every day. It’s a lot different than Dulaney - like, we take school a lot more serious and basketball a lot more serious, and everytime we play we play with, like, a dog in us.”
Cornish said that “dog” was the main difference in the second half.
“I feel like in the third quarter and the fourth quarter, we just came out more aggressive,” he said. “On defense, we started, like, to dive on the floors and cut off the lanes and all that, so I feel like that shocked them a little bit, because we weren’t playing like that in the first half. They probably thought we were going to come out and do the same thing, but we we came out aggressive.”
2021 guard Chris Evans had 20 points for the Saints, and 2020 guard Hakim Byrd and 2020 forward Cameron Young had 12 points apiece.
WATSON LEADS BONNER-PRENDERGAST
Monsignor Bonner-Prendergast (Pa.) head coach Kevin Funston said his 2020 star guard Tyreese Watson is one of the more underrated talents in the Philadelphia area.
“He’s the best kept secret, man,” Funston said. “This is my Ben Simmons, I’m telling you. I don’t know why, nobody’s talking about him - everybody’s sleeping on him in Philly. He’s a triple-double guy, I’m telling you. He rebounds - he’s like our big man a lot of times - he’s our best passer, he’s our floor general. He’s tough.”
It was hard to argue after a the Friars’ 82-75 win over Dulaney (Md.), as Watson showed his versatility with 22 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds to help stymie a Dulaney rally.
The Friars led by 18 points after one quarter, but the Lions rallied to tie it in the fourth quarter before Bonner-Prendie held on late.
“[The key was] Just staying tough and staying together as a team,” Watson said. “Games like that are tough, and you’ve got to be able to stay together as a team. … We were just worried about ourselves and how we play.”
The 6-foot-3 178 pound Watson said he holds scholarship offers from Rider and California (Pa.). Malik Edwards added 20 points and Mandon Seapoe 16 for the Friars, who improved to 7-1 on the season.
“This week, we’ve turned the corner,” Funston said. “We were trying to figure out our identity for the first six games, and we were kind of fighting the current. But we really seemed to click when we came down here and are sharing the ball. So I think we can be dangerous if we play this way consistently.”
2020 guard Ryan Conway had 20 points to lead Dulaney.
PIERRE’S STEADINESS LEADS ELIZABETH PAST OLYMPIC
Jayden Pierre is only three games into his sophomore season at Elizabeth High School and he’s already well on his way to decorated high school career out of New Jersey.
The 6-foot point guard is ranked in the top 100 nationally by various recruiting platforms and holds offers from Florida, Rutgers, and Robert Morris. On Friday evening, at center stage of the Governor’s Challenge, Pierre put forth a sterling effort to propel his Minutemen past Olympic (NC).
In the 65-62 win, Pierre registered 18 points on 8 of 11 shooting to go along with seven assists.
“They were scrappy,” Pierre said. “It was a hard fought win.”
Pierre, who played all 32 minutes, ran the show effectively and efficiently for the entirety of the contest. The sophomore was also tasked with Olympic’s show-runner - VCU-bound guard Joshua Banks - at his discretion.
“I took the initiative to guard the best player on the other team, [Joshua],” Pierre said. “Even though I had to do a lot on the [offensive] side in terms of getting my teammates involved in scoring, defense is what helped us win.”
For the game, Elizabeth out-shot Olympic 53 percent to 39 percent.
When asked to describe his strengths, Pierre said: “I’m a leader, floor general, a scorer. I like getting my teammates involved, too. But I need to get my body right and get better at rebounding. Rebounding is big. I have to be a better rebounder.”
EDISON ADJUSTS, PICKS UP WIN
As a Virginia public school, Thomas Edison doesn’t use the 30-second shot clock, so this week’s trip to the Governor’s Challenge was a welcomed opportunity.
“The whole team was actually excited when we found out we were playing with a shot clock,” 2020 guard Jared Clawson said, “because we see college people play with a shot clock and the NBA play with a shot clock, and it makes the game faster - you can’t really hold the ball. The teams down where we play, they like to hold the ball and you can’t do that.”
Besides a few hiccups, the Eagles looked comfortable playing with the clock in a 66-62 win over Winston Churchill (Md.).
“I think down the stretch we had like two possessions where they kind of held us [on offense] and it got us,” Clawson said. “But we like to play fast and get our shots up quick, so it didn’t really hurt us.”
Edison coach Terry Henderson said it was easier to adjust on the defensive end, where his team knew it had a set amount of time to make a stop.
“It’s something different for us,” he said. “Not using the shot clock, we try to come down and just make sure we get a good possession, and however long that takes - playing in Virginia - it might take a possession. So one of the things that we work on is being able to take care of the ball. Now we’re taking care of the ball, but then we realize, ‘Oh, we’ve got two seconds to shoot!’ But it’s a learning experience.”
Clawson finished with 19 points to lead three Eagles in double-figures. 2020 forward Donovan Staples had 18 points for Edison, while 2020 forward Gabriel Casillas added 16 and nine rebounds.
“When we play good is when we have three of us as double-digit scorers, especially 18, 19, 20 [points],” Clawson said. “It’s happened three games this season already, so when we get there, I don’t think anybody can beat us.”
Churchill was led by 2020 guard Jomo Goings, who finished with a game-high 25 points and 11 boards.
The Salisbury School’s 2020 frontcourt tandem of Joszef Baranz and Jared Vazquez stand at 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-8, and on Friday the twin towers proved too much for Frederick Force. Baranz had 26 points and 11 rebound, while Vazquez had 17 points and an incredible 25 rebounds as the Dragons claimed the Bracket 7 Championship, 57-49. … Despite a loss, Snow Hill (Md.) 2021 guard Shi’Quan Williams put together one of the most impressive individual scoring performances in recent event memory, posting 32 of his team’s 41 points on 14-of-15 shooting against New Era (Md.). … Laurel (DE) product Javier White had 29 points on 12-of-14 shooting and made four 4-pointers in a 65-56 win over Queen Anne's (Md.) ... Beckley Prep (WV) took home a pair of trophies at the night’s Jimmy John’s All-Star Experience, with 2020 forward Rob “Lithuanian Jumpman” Jonaitis winning the M&T Bank Slam Dunk Championship and 2021 guard Dominykas Ramonas winning the Delmarva Power 3-Point Shootout. … New Era (Md.) guard Jamal Cannady took home the crown in the Skills Challenge sponsored by Pohanka of Salisbury.