Kentucky Lake Showcase: Session 1

By Jordan Kendall, Saturday, Feb 17, 2018 2:52 PM  

Wesley Christian (KY) 70 vs. Believe Prep (TN) 67 In the second consecutive game to go down to the wire, Believe Prep and Wesley Christian squared off in the auxiliary gym of Marshall County High School. Both teams came out hitting shots and scored the ball well, but Wesley Christian would close out the game in the final stages to pick up the win. Sophomore guard Kevon Watt was the story of the game for Wesley Christian, as he took over on the offensive end to help lead his team. The undersized guard came out ready to play in the first half, stuffing the stat sheet for 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists at halftime. His effort was good enough for a 29-25 lead at the break, but Believe Prep was able to hang around behind a hot start from junior guard Malcolm Farrington who had 11 points at the half. Farrington continued to torch the Wesley Christian defense in the second half, hitting five of his seven three-pointers on the game in the period. Once he and junior guard Devan Cambridge found the range from behind the arc late in the game, it seemed Believe Prep might make a push to take the lead after trailing by 9. That effort would fall short though, as Believe Prep wasn't able to get stops on the defensive end and allowed Watt to attack the rim late in the game, helping put his team in position to pick up the 70-67 win. Watt finished the game with 21 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists, earning him MVP honors for the game. Believe Prep was led by Farrington as he finished with 25 points (7 three-pointers) and 3 rebounds. Our Savior Lutheran (NY) 80 vs. Hillcrest Prep (AZ) 78 In the final game of session one at the Kentucky Lake Showcase, Our Savior Lutheran and Hillcrest Prep squared off in another game that would go down to the wire. All the buzz surrounded Hillcrest Prep's five-star sophomore Kyree Walker, but a big effort from Seton Hall commit Jared Rhoden would lead Our Savior Lutheran to victory. Things were tight throughout the first half, as both teams found success on the offensive end, but Hillcrest Prep would take a 37-31 lead at the break. That lead can be contributed to a six-point swing for Hillcrest Prep at the end of the half after two technical free throws, two free throws from a shooting foul, and a basket would allow a six-point swing to give Hillcrest Prep the lead with under ten seconds to play in the period. Senior point guard Demarius Jacobs was huge for Hillcrest Prep in the first half, leading his team with 14 points at the break. After a strong first half performance from Rhoden, he turned things up another notch in the second half to help lead the comeback for Our Savior Lutheran. He scored 17 points in the second half alone, six of which came on consecutive three-pointers down the stretch that would give Our Savior Lutheran the lead with under 3 minutes to play. They hung on for the victory and beat Hillcrest Prep 80-78. Rhoden led Our Savior Lutheran with 28 points and 5 rebounds, which was good enough for him to take home MVP honors. Hillcrest Prep was led by Jacobs with 22 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists, while Walker added 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists.

Wizard Crystal Ball Showcase: Session 3

By Jordan Kendall, Monday, Feb 12, 2018 11:00 PM  

The third and final session of The Grind Session's Wizard Crystal Ball Showcase at Seneca High School in Louisville, Kentucky was played on Sunday with three games to round out the competition. Four Grind Session teams and one team not apart of The Grind Session's core teams, Inspire Prep, played in front of fans from Derby City as they still fight for a chance to play in the World Championships in March. Here's a recap of those games: Mountain Mission (VA) 45 vs. Inspire Prep (FL) 25 In what ended up being the lowest scoring game of the Wizard Crystal Ball Showcase, Mountain Mission faced off against Inspire Prep to kick off session three. Mountain Mission leaned on the play of their two high-major commits in point guard and Penn State commit Daniil Kasatkin, as well as big man and Baylor commit Flo Thamba. At the half, Inspire Prep was hanging around behind the hot shooting of Momar Sakanoko who hit four threes in the first half to score 12 of his team's 16 points. Mountain Mission still took a four-point lead into the break with a score of 20-16 behind the low-post play of Flo Thamba who had 8 points and 6 rebounds at the half. Mountain Mission stepped up the defensive intensity in the second half, only allowing Inspire Prep to score nine points on their way to a 45-25 victory. Thamba finished the game with 14 points. Inspire Prep's leading scorer was Sakanoko despite him not scoring any points in the second half. Aspire Academy (KY) 77 vs. Wesley Christian (KY) 74 (OT) Aspire Academy took on Wesley Christian in game two in a game that went down to the wire and took an overtime period to decide a winner. Five-star center Charles Bassey did not play on what was a game time decision, but Aspire Academy was still able to pull away for the victory in the extra period. For much of the first half, Aspire Academy controlled the momentum and even led by nine points late in the period after a turnaround jumper from Calvin Temple. Yet, Wesley Christian seemed to answer every run Aspire Academy went on and only trailed 31-28 at the half. Out of the halftime break, Brandyn Talbot knocked down a three for Wesley Christian that tied things up and both teams would go back and forth the rest of the way. With 8:39 left in the game, Wesley Christian led by six points, but De'Sean Allen-Eikens stepped up big for Aspire Academy down the stretch to keep his team in the game. Aspire led by two with 45 seconds to play, but two free throws from Wesley Christian's Arol Kacuol  tied the game up and would be enough to force overtime. In the extra period of play Allen-Eikens continued to give the Wesley Christian offense trouble and he completed an and-one basket plus the free throw to give Aspire a three-point lead with just under three minutes to play. The teams would battle back and forth the rest of the way, but Aspire was able to pull out the 77-74 victory. They were led by Allen-Eikens and Temple who both finished with 21 points, as well as Sekou Sada Kalle who hit shots in big moments for his 8 points. Wesley Christian got the majority of their offensive production from Cameron Ramage and Miki Tadic, as Ramage finished with 19 points and Tadic finished with 17. Mountain Mission (VA) 54 vs. St. Louis Christian (MO) 41 Mountain Mission played St. Louis Christian in what was their second game of the day, but showed no signs of fatigue as they picked up another win on the day. Against a young St. Louis Christian team, Baylor commit Flo Thamba was able to excel in the post and help lead his team to a 2-0 showing at The Grind Session's Wizard Crystal Ball Showcase. While Thamba only scored 4 points in the first half, teammate Daniil Kasatkin chipped in 6 points of his own to help their team obtain a 28-19 lead at the break. St. Louis Christian's leading scorer Bailey Dee was held scoreless in the first half, but came out in the with a second wind in the second half scoring 15 points to try and keep his team in the game. His efforts would be too little too late though, as Thamba scored 10 points in the second half to help lead his team to a 54-41 victory. Thamba finished the game with 14 points, while Kasatkin added 11 points to the total. Dee was the leading scorer for St. Louis Christian with 15 points.

Wizard Crystal Ball Showcase: Session 2

By Jordan Kendall, Sunday, Feb 11, 2018 4:51 PM  

Session two of the Wizard Crystal Ball Showcase kicked off with six games at Seneca High School in Louisville, Kentucky. Two of those games were played in the auxiliary gym simultaneously with games being played in the main gym. When things were all said and done, there were some surprises that may shake up the Grind Top 9 Coaches Poll. Here's a recap of how those games went: Victory Rock Prep (FL) 99 vs. Tennessee Prep (TN) 58 Game one of session two would be settled with the biggest margin of victory so far at the Wizard Crystal Ball Showcase as Victory Rock Prep was able to pull out a 41-point victory over Tennessee Prep. Victory Rock got things going early and never looked back. After one quarter of play, Victory Rock held a 22-7 lead over Tennessee Prep, getting their offense by committee as eight players scored in the beginning period. They continued to apply pressure in the second quarter as Jonathan Dos Anjos and Ibrahima Diallo got hot and helped grow Victory Rock's lead to 21 points entering halftime. Tennessee Prep's star-studded guards failed to get things going on the offensive end and Victory Rock took full advantage, continuing to grow their lead even larger in the third quarter. Antavion Collum found some success on offense for Tennessee Prep as time winded down, but the team couldn't get stops on the defensive end as Victory Rock was able to hold onto the big early lead for the 99-58 win. Victory Rock got big production in the post from Diallo, as he finished with 14 points and 17 rebounds, while Dos Anjos added 16 points of his own. Kuany Kuany also got in on the action for Victory Rock, shooting the ball well from behind the arc on his way to 19 points. Michael Durr also notched a double-double in the win, finishing with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Collum led the way for Tennessee Prep with 21 points and 3 rebounds, while Brandon Nicholas also chipped in 9 points and 9 rebounds. Seneca (KY) 81 vs. Adair County (KY) 77 Zion Harmon, the country's top ranked point guard, and Adair County entered the gym to take on host-school Seneca High School for their lone game at the Wizard Crystal Ball Showcase. Seneca took the lead in the early stages, but both teams went back and forth down the stretch as Seneca pulled away for the win. After one quarter of play Seneca held a ten-point lead behind a quick 10 points from Richard Ninamou. Adair County cut into that lead in the second quarter as Harmon got it going, finishing with 14 points at the half, and only trailed by five as they entered the break. Harmon and Adair County continued to chip away in the third quarter, as he scored 13 points in the third quarter, including a layup with 20 seconds remaining in the period to tie things up heading into the fourth. Harmon did all he could to keep Adair County in the game, but Ninamou's offensive effort would be too much to handle as Seneca was able to pull away late for the 81-77 victory. Harmon finished the game with 38 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. Ninamou led Seneca with 31 points in the game. Prolific Prep (CA) 83 vs. Athlete Institute (CAN) 60 Prolific Prep's high-powered offense helped them to a win over The Rock in session one and they were too much to handle for Athlete Institute in session two, easing their way to a 23-point victory. Athlete Institute relied heavily on the play of Arizona State commit Lugentz Dort against Prolific Prep and he kept them in the game during the first half. The defensive pressure applied by Prolific Prep eventually wore Dort and the Athlete Institute down in the second half, catapulting them to a large lead. After one quarter of play things were tied at 16 between the two teams, as Dort scored 11 points in the first period, while Prolific Prep's Nimari Burnett answered with 8 points of his own. Neither team was able to pull away in the second quarter, as things remained tied at 30 a piece at the half. The tired legs of Athlete Institute eventually wore down in the second half, as the relentless inside effort of McDonald's All-American Jordan Brown and athleticism of Jeenathan Williams helped Prolific Prep take a seven-point lead into the final period of play. They dominated the fourth quarter and went on to pick up the 83-60 win. Prolific Prep was led by Burnett with 20 points and 3 rebounds, while Williams chipped in 19 points and 3 rebounds. Brown also added 18 points and 7 rebounds in the win. Dort did all he could for Athlete Institute as he finished with 24 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals. Orangeville Prep (CAN) 76 vs. Huntington Prep (WV) 69 Huntington Prep entered the game favored over Orangeville Prep and played that way in the early stages of the game. They leaned on the sharpshooting of Quinn Slazinski and the attacking play of Jaemyn Brakefield to give them a three-point lead at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, they continued to cling to a small lead for the majority of period, but a layup from Michigan commit Ignas Brazdiekis with seconds remaining in the half helped Orangeville Prep take a 41-40 lead into the break. Brazdiekis finished the first half with 25 points and continued to pour it on in the second half, opening the third quarter with a three-pointer to grow Orangeville Prep's lead to four. From there, the momentum never swung back in favor of Huntington Prep and Orangeville Prep led by nine points at the end of the third quarter. Orangeville Prep went on to grab a 76-69 victory behind an enormous scoring output from Brazdiekis. He went on to finish the game with a double-double, as he notched 41 points and 11 rebounds. Brakefield led the way for Huntington Prep with 35 points and 4 rebounds.

Wizard Crystal Ball Showcase: Session 1

By Jordan Kendall, Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 2:05 PM  

Louisville, Kentucky's Seneca High School is playing host to the latest stop for The Grind Session, as eleven Grind Session teams and three traditional high school teams put on a show for fans in Derby City. As The Grind Session's World Championships inch closer by the weekend, each game holds immense importance. This weekend's Wizard Crystal Ball Showcase will be played in three sessions over three days, starting with today's events on February 9th. Eight Grind Session teams squared off during session one. Here's a recap of how those games went: Huntington Prep (WV) 93 vs. Tennessee Prep (TN) 65 In the first matchup of the Wizard Crystal Ball Classic, Huntington Prep squared off with Tennessee Prep, a matchup featuring two teams ranked in the Grind Top 9. Things were tight through the first 8 minutes of the game, as Tennessee Prep leaned on Traizon Byrd early in the game for scoring. Huntington Prep was able to start pulling away in the final 8 minutes of the second half and took a 41-33 lead into the halftime. In the second half, Huntington Prep came out firing on all cylinders and was able to expand their early lead behind the hot shooting of Quinn Slazinski. They rode his effort, as well as Jonathan Kuminga's strong performance to the finish line on their way to the 93-65 victory. Slazinski led Huntington Prep with 21 points, while Kuminga chipped in 20. Jaeymn Brakefield also added 19 points in the win. Tennessee Prep was led by Antavion Collum who finished with 27 points. Victory Rock Prep (FL) 59 vs. Athlete Institute (CAN) 57 Game two finished with the closest margin of victory of all the games in session one, as Victory Rock used every second of the clock to pull out the win over Athlete Institute. In the early stages of the game, Victory Rock jumped out to an 8-2 lead as Athlete Institute struggled to hit shots. Once senior guard Lugentz Dort got things going for Athlete Institute, the team was able to hang around and keep themselves in the game. Midway through the first half Victory Rock held a five-point advantage, but would never grow their lead past that, taking a 39-35 advantage into the break. Victory Rock's first half lead was due in major part to the shooting of Kuany Kuany, who knocked down three three-pointers in the half on his way to 11 points in the period. Victory Rock leaned on Madut Akec for scoring early in the second half, while Athlete Institute looked to continue to run through Dort. With 4:30 remaining in the game, Dort was able to sink a layup to tie the game at 55 points a piece. Then with 24.6 seconds to play, Dort was able to knock down a pair of free throws to give his team a one-point lead late in the game. Victory Rock responded well, hitting free throws of their own to seal the deal on their way to the 59-57 win. Victory Rock was led by Kuany, who finished with 18 points, while Akec chipped in 12. Dort led the way for Athlete Institute with a 24-point performance. Aspire Academy (KY) 62 vs. Orangeville Prep (CAN) 48 In front of their hometown fans, Aspire Academy looked to pick up a win over Orangeville Prep at the Wizard Crystal Ball Showcase. Things started slow for Aspire, but neither team was able to score much in the first half, as they took a 29-25 lead into halftime. Much of Aspire's early success was due to the play of Calvin Temple, who knocked down three three-pointers in the first half on his way to 13 points at the break. Orangeville Prep relied heavily on the scoring of Michigan commit Ignas Brazdiekis in the first half, as he went into the break with 12 points despite shooting poorly from the field. Brazdiekis's shooting woes continued into the second half, allowing Aspire to build on their early lead. Aspire turned to De'Sean Allen-Eikens and Charles Bassey for second half production, which was too much firepower for Orangeville Prep to handle, and the Wizard went on to win the game 62-48. Temple led the scoring column for Aspire Academy with 23 points, while Allen-Eikens chipped in 15 and Bassey added 12 points in the win. Brazdiekis scored 20 points in the game and played limited minutes in the second half. Prolific Prep (CA) 77 vs. The Rock (FL) 68 With the return of McDonald's All-American Jordan Brown for Prolifc Prep, they entered the game heavily favored over The Rock due to a star-studded roster full of current and future Division 1 signees. Prolific Prep got their points by committee in the first half, utilizing a full team effort to take a nine-point advantage into the halftime break. They jumped out to that early lead behind the play of Nimari Burnett, Jeenethan Williams, and Brown, as they combined for 33 of the team's 43 first-half points. After trailing 43-34 at the break, The Rock looked to turn things around in the second half, but struggled to convert on key opportunities that would have allowed them to chip away at the lead. They leaned on Jaden Campbell for scoring and Trey McCrary for his shot-making ability, but the high powered offense of Prolific Prep would be too much for The Rock to overcome on their way to a 77-68 loss. Prolific Prep was led by Brown with 20 points and Burnett added 19 points as well. Jeenethan Williams also chipped in 15 points in the Prolific Prep victory. The Rock was led by Campbell as he finished with 27 points.

Hooping on the Hill: Session 2

By Jordan Kendall, Sunday, Feb 4, 2018 5:17 PM  

Bowling Green High School played host to The Grind Session's Hooping on the Hill event in Bowling Green, Kentucky this weekend and fans were treated to two days of high level basketball. Session two kicked off with the post-grad championship, featuring post-grad teams from Believe Prep (TN) and Tennessee Prep (TN). That game was followed by the third place game among prep teams, which featured a matchup of Tennessee Prep (TN) and Believe Prep (TN). In the championship game, Aspire Academy (KY) played Bella Vista Prep (AZ), and that game was followed by Bowling Green (KY) versus Adair County (KY). Tennessee Prep Post-Grad (TN) 65 vs. Believe Prep Post-Grad (TN) 55 In the post-grad championship of Hooping on the Hill, Tennessee Prep and Believe Prep were in a tight matchup after the first quarter. Neither team was able to gain a true advantage early on, but Tennessee Prep jumped out to a 12-11 lead after the first quarter. Much of Tennessee Prep's early success was due to the inside presence of Anthony Mason, who scored 8 points in the first period. They were able to build on that lead in the second quarter and take a 27-23 lead into the half. Jordan Graham caught fire in the third quarter for Tennessee Prep, finding his stroke from behind the arc and finished the period with 12 points. His effort helped Tennessee Prep tack on three more points to their halftime lead, as they were winning 48-35 at the end of the quarter. Graham and Mason were too much to handle for Believe Prep on their way to helping their team to a 65-55. Graham finished the game with 17 points, while Mason added 13 points of his own. Jalen Morgan was the leading scorer for Believe Prep, finishing the game with 15 points. Believe Prep (TN) 82 vs. Tennessee Prep (TN) 69 Believe Prep and Tennessee Prep's prep teams squared off in the third place game. This matchup featured two of the top 2019 prospects in the state of Tennessee, in Tennessee Prep's Antavion Collum and Believe Prep's Devan Cambridge. Cambridge caught fire in the first quarter, breaking away for a couple big dunks, as well as knocking down three-pointers on his way to 10 points in the period. He helped Believe Prep jump out to a 20-10 lead at the end of the first period, which they continued to hold onto in the second, finishing the half with a 38-27 lead behind 15 points from Cambridge, as well as 8 points from senior guard Malcolm Farrington. Cambridge turned things up another notch in the second half, finding a way to score nearly every time down the court in the third quarter. He went off for 13 points in the period, pushing his game total to 28. While Collum was seeing little playing time in the second half, junior guard Brandon Nicholas started to get going from behind the arc, finishing with 14 points at the end of the quarter, but Tennessee Prep still trailed 62-47. Cambridge and Nicholas continued to go back and forth in the final period of play, but Believe Prep's large lead was too much to overcome for Tennessee Prep, as they went on to win 82-69. Cambridge finished with 32 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists, while Farrington added 14 points and 8 rebounds. Tennessee Prep was led by Nicholas with 22 points and 5 rebounds. Collum finished the game with 13 points and 6 rebounds. Aspire Academy (KY) 70 vs. Bella Vista Prep (AZ) 45 The championship game of Hooping on the Hill featured a rematch of last week's game at Crush in the Valley, as Aspire Academy and Bella Vista Prep squared off for bragging rights in Bowling Green. In a low scoring first quarter, Aspire Academy gained the early advantage with a six-point lead behind 4 points from junior center Charles Bassey and 5 points from senior guard Caleb Fields. They continued to build on that lead before halftime, only allowing Bella Vista Prep to score two points in the second quarter on their way to a 26-12 advantage at the break. Junior wing De'Sean Allen-Eikens caught fire in the second half for Aspire Academy, finishing the third quarter with a game total of 12 points. Bassey had already notched a double-double before the fourth quarter began with 11 points and 15 rebounds, and helped them grow their lead to 48-26. The game flow never changed in the fourth quarter, as Aspire Academy went on to win 70-45. Allen-Eikens finished the game with 19 points and 7 rebounds, while Bassey added 11 points, 18 rebounds, and 3 assists. Fields also chipped in 17 points in the win. Bella Vista Prep saw the majority of their scoring come from junior guard Terry Armstrong who finished with 26 points, as well as 6 rebounds. Bowling Green (KY) 95 vs. Adair County (KY) 71 Bowling Green and Adair County squared off in the final game of Hooping on the Hill, in a game that surrounded the most hype, as Adair County freshman point guard Zion Harmon returned to the school he helped win a state championship with as an eighth grader. Harmon couldn't get it going in the first quarter, and Bowling Green took advantage, jumping out to a 30-7 lead at the end of the period. Ziyon Kenner, an Austin Peay football commit, helped Bowling Green get out to that early lead with 8 points in the first quarter. Harmon still struggled to score the way he normally does in the second quarter, finishing with only 9 points in the first half. While Adair County's leading scorer couldn't get going, Bowling Green continued to build on their lead and were winning 49-23 at the half. Much of that early success was due to the long range shooting of Trevor Dennis who scored 15 points in the first half. By the end of the third quarter Bowling Green held a 27-point advantage, leading 74-47. Harmon found his stroke in the third quarter, finishing the period with a total of 25 points, but the rest of his team struggled to get buckets around him causing them to fall into a deeper hole. Bowling Green went on to win the game 95-71 behind 27 points and 6 rebounds from Dennis, as well as a double-double from Jarius Key who finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Harmon finished the game with 38 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists, while Dre Boyd added 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals for Adair County.

Hooping on the Hill: Session 1

By Jordan Kendall, Saturday, Feb 3, 2018 3:39 PM  

The Grind Session made a stop in Bowling Green, Kentucky for their Hooping on the Hill showcase at Bowling Green High School. Unlike most Grind Session events, these games are played in true tournament form. Grind Session teams squared off against each other, looking to earn themselves a spot in the championship for day two. Aspire Academy matched up against Believe Prep in the first Grind Session game, while Bella Vista Prep and Tennessee Prep played the second Grind Session game. Two other games were also played during day one, which included a game between University Heights Academy and host-school Bowling Green High School, as well as a post-grad game between post-grad teams from Tennessee Prep and Believe Prep. Here's a recap of how those games went: University Heights (KY) 83 vs. Bowling Green (KY) 75 Host-school Bowling Green High School looked to pick up a win against University Heights Academy in front of their home fans, but the outside shooting effort from UHA was too much for the Purples to handle. Bowling Green held a slim lead after the first quarter and were able to jump out to that lead behind a strong inside presence from senior forward Jarius Key, as he finished the period with 8 points and 5 rebounds. University Heights responded in the second quarter, hitting seven three-pointers to help them obtain a 36-22 lead at the half. Junior guard Ta'Quan Hollowell scored the ball well in the first half, finishing at the rim and knocking down outside jumpers on his way to 10 points in the half. University Heights continued to build on that strong second quarter behind the play of Hollowell and junior guard KyKy Tandy. Tandy found his range from behind the arc, but put on a show for fans with ankle-breaking cross overs and high flying dunks. After three quarters of play, University Heights held a 62-48 lead, but Bowling Green made a late push to retake the lead after freshman guard Isaiah Taylor hit a couple threes in the closing minutes. That effort would fall short, as University Heights would go on to win 83-75. Tandy finished the game with 26 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists, while Hollowell took home the MVP performance as he notched a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman guard KJ Crump also chipped in 17 points and 6 assists for University Heights, while Bowling Green was led by Key who finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Aspire Academy (KY) 65 vs. Believe Prep (TN) 57 Believe Prep was able to jump out to an early lead over Aspire Academy in this one, but the resilient Wizard squad responded late in the game to pull out the victory. After one quarter of play, Believe Prep had jumped out to a 14-10 lead, and continued to build on that in the second quarter as they entered the break with a 12-point lead. Malcolm Fairrington was big in helping Believe Prep build the early lead, scoring 14 points in the first half. Despite trailing at the half, Aspire Academy got good first half production from junior guard Calvin Temple who dropped 8 points in the period. Temple turned things up another notch in the second half, scoring 11 more points on top of his scoring output in the first half, which played a big part in leading his team to the come from behind win. He hit a couple three-pointers down the stretch that pushed Aspire to the lead and allowed them to pull away late for the 65-57 victory. The inside presence of junior center Charles Bassey was another key piece in controlling the second half for Aspire Academy, as he finished the game with 14 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Believe Prep was led by Fairrington who had 18 points and 4 rebounds, while Devan Cambridge chipped in 22 points of his own. Bella Vista Prep (AZ) 92 vs. Tennessee Prep (TN) 89 With this game going down to the wire, things got chippy between Tennessee Prep and Bella Vista, but both teams were able to reign in their emotions and finish an exciting match up. Trailing by 9 points at the half, Bella Vista came out with an answer to everything Tennessee Prep put up in the second half on their way to a 92-89 win. Most of the early success for Tennessee Prep can be attributed to junior guard Antavion Collum who had 9 points at the end of the first quarter. Collum's attacking play, combined with the hot shooting behind the arc of junior guard Brandon Nicholas led Tennessee Prep to a 48-39 lead at the half. Bella Vista's junior guard tandem of Terry Armstrong, Julian Dozier Jr., and Nicolas Elame came out firing on all cylinders in the second half as they were able to lead their team to the come from behind victory. The Bella Vista offense was ran through Armstrong in a tight game down the stretch, as he pulled through for his team with 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists for the game. Senior guard Eman Sertovic played a big part in the comeback effort, knocking down four three-pointers, a couple of those coming in key situations. He finished with 21 points, while Elame chipped in 20 points of his own. Tennessee Prep was led by Collum, who finished with 25 points and 5 rebounds, while Nicholas added 28 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals. Tennessee Prep Post-Grad (TN) 94 vs. Believe Prep Post-Grad (TN) 63 In the final game of session one, Tennessee Prep's Post-Grad team got out to a big early lead, as they were winning 20-3 with 1:21 remaining in the first quarter. From there, they kept their foot on their gas and were able to roll to an easy win over Believe Prep's Post-Grad team. Jordan Graham was a key factor in piecing together the win, as he scored all 22 of his points before the fourth quarter. Holding a 69-46 lead after three quarters of play, Graham was able to rest much of the final period, while his team held on for the blowout victory. After Tennessee Prep obtained the early lead, they continued to put it on Believe Prep and were able to pick up a 94-63 win. One of the lone bright spots for Believe Prep was the play of Dante Gamble, who contributed 16 points for his team in the loss.

Crush In The Valley: Session 2

By Jordan Kendall, Tuesday, Jan 30, 2018 6:08 AM  

Session two of The Grind Session's Crush In The Valley showcase was held at American Canyon High School in Vellajo, California. Six teams, all members of The Grind Session's 25-team core, battled it out in three games as they all fight for a spot in the World Championships later this season. Grind Session teams participating in the Crush In The Valley showcase include Bella Vista Prep, Trinity International, Hillcrest Prep, Balboa School, Prolific Prep, and Aspire Academy. After the teams beat up on each other in session one, they returned for play in session two. Here's a recap of how those games went: Balboa School (CA) 82 vs. Trinity International (NV) 71 After a blowout loss in session one, Balboa School looked to return the favor against Trinity International. Jumping out to a 20-point halftime lead, Balboa School seemed to put themselves in perfect position for the win. Malcolm Little got hot from behind the arc in the first half, hitting three three-pointers, while Christian Wilson was able to attack the basket and chip in 10 points of his own. Trinity International entered the game dressing only seven players, but senior guard Deon Stroud and senior forward Jovan Sljivancanin did all they could to keep Trinity International in the game with 21 points between them at the half. As Balboa looked to build on that early lead in the second half, Trinity International would not go away easily. After Balboa School led 66-47 midway through the second half, Trinity International was able to cut the lead to seven points with a minute remaining, but they would run out of gas as the game came to an end and would suffer an 82-71 defeat. Much of Balboa School's success can be attributed to Djibril Diagne who finished with 19 points and 18 rebounds, while Mojus Mojus added 15 points and 3 assists. Trinity International was led by Sljivancanin's 30 points and 6 rebounds, and sophomore guard Daishen Nix added 11 points in the loss. Aspire Academy (KY) 70 vs. Bella Vista Prep (AZ) 69 In a game that went down to the wire, Aspire Academy and Bella Vista Prep traded buckets late in the game before Aspire Academy's Caleb Fields was able to sink the game-winning layup as time expired. Both teams fought hard and neither was able to gain a meaningful advantage until the final buzzer. With 8 minutes remaining in the first half, Bella Vista Prep held a 17-15 lead, as junior guard Nicolas Elame scored 10 of those 17. Aspire Academy was able to regroup before the end of the half and take a 29-25 lead into the break behind 13 points from junior center Charles Bassey. Aspire Academy grew their lead to 9 points with 8 minutes remaining in the game, but senior wing Giir Ring knocked down a three-pointer to pull Bella Vista Prep within 6. With 1:54 remaining in the game, Bella Vista Prep junior guard Julian Dozier Jr. knocked down a step-back three-pointer to narrow Aspire Academy's lead to 2. That shot was soon followed by a three-pointer from senior center Jimmy Bell to give Bella Vista Prep a one-point lead with 23 seconds remaining. The following possession, Aspire Academy got two points at the free throw line to retake the lead, but junior guard Terry Armstrong responded with a layup to put Bella Vista Prep back up by one with 13.8 seconds left in the game. Following a timeout, Fields was able to find a gap in the Bella Vista offense and sink a layup as time expired to win the game. Bassey finished with 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists, while junior wing De'Sean Allen-Eikens played a big role in the win, chipping in 23 points of his own. Elame led the way for Bella Vista Prep with 21 points and 4 rebounds. Junior point guard Julian Dozier Jr. also stepped up for Bella Vista Prep with 18 points and 5 assists. Prolific Prep (CA) 103 vs. Hillcrest Prep (AZ) 76 Prolific Prep jumped on Hillcrest Prep in the early goings of this one and rode their hot start to the end of the game. After a couple chippy moments in the first half, the teams were able to reign in their emotions and finish the period as Prolific Prep took a 47-32 lead into the break. Much of that first half lead was due to the contributions of sophomore guard Nimari Burnett, who had 22 points, only missing one shot in the first half. Kyree Walker scored nearly half of his team's points in the first half, as the Hillcrest Prep sophomore guard notched 15 points before entering the locker room. With Burnett cooling off in the second half, Prolific Prep turned to senior wing Jeenathan Williams for a large scoring output to help them maintain their early lead. Williams finished the game with 22 points, 4 assists, and 4 steals on the way to a 103-76 win. Burnett only scored 7 points in the second half, but still finished the game with 29 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. Walker did all he could for Hillcrest Prep, as he finished with 35 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.

Crush In The Valley: Session 1

By Jordan Kendall, Sunday, Jan 28, 2018 9:56 PM  

American Canyon High School in Vallejo, California plays host to The Grind Session's Crush In The Valley event this weekend. It features six Grind Session teams, which play two games a piece over a two-day period, as well as eight California high school teams that all play one game a piece. Session one features a mix of both Grind Session and California high school teams, and names such as Jalen Green, Charles Bassey, Kyree Walker, and Jordan Brown helped pack the house for a sellout event. Grind Session teams participating in Crush In The Valley event include Bella Vista Prep, Trinity International, Hillcrest Prep, Balboa School, Prolific Prep, and Aspire Academy. The remaining teams in the event are Las Lomas, American Canyon, Stuart Hall, Sacramento, Salesian, San Joaquin, Bishop O'Dowd, and Clark; all of which are high schools located in California. Here's a recap of how the games from session one played out: Bella Vista Prep (AZ) 91 vs. Trinity International (NV) 66 Trinity International entered the game with a short bench, only dressing seven players, but were able to hang around in the first half, only trailing by three at the break. Senior guard Deon Stroud got off to a quick start, scoring 12 points in the first half for Trinity International, but Bella Vista Prep junior guard led all scorers with 14. Armstrong's big first half scoring output helped his team to a 35-32 lead at the end of the period, and they continued to grow that lead throughout the second half. Junior point guard Julian Dozier Jr. got hot from behind the arc on his way to a 15-point performance and Armstrong continued his scoring rampage on their way to a 91-66 victory. The lack of depth on Trinity International's bench showed in the second half, as they ran out of gas late and couldn't outlast the fresh legs of Bella Vista Prep. Armstrong finished with 27 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocks, while Dozier Jr. chipped in 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. Trinity International was led by Deon Stroud with 20 points and 3 assists, and sophomore guard Daishen Nix added 15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals. Las Lomas (CA) 79 vs. American Canyon (CA) 51 After one quarter in this matchup, Las Lomas jumped out to an early lead behind the long-range shooting of Jason Holman, and had an 18-11 advantage. Holman continued his hot start in the second quarter and finished the half with 11 points on three of four shooting behind the arc. Nathan Robinson also started to heat up for Las Lomas, as they grew their lead to 43-20. Holman and Las Lomas were able to have the same success in the second half, as he scored 9 more points on their way 63-37 lead heading into the fourth. Las Lomas went on to win the game 79-51, behind Holman's 20 points on six of ten shooting from three-point range, and Nathan Robinson added 23 points of his own. Malik Ghidon led American Canyon with 20 points and 8 rebounds, while John Wade III chipped in 13 points and 5 assists. Stuart Hall (CA) 65 vs. Sacramento (CA) 62 In a game that would take an overtime period to decide, both teams battled back and forth before Stuart Hall pulled away with seconds remaining in the game. At the end of the first quarter, Stuart Hall had gained control of a four-point lead, as they were beating Sacramento 15-11. That was led by Jay Henry Ryan's 7-point effort in the first quarter, and he chipped in four more in the second quarter, as he helped Stuart Hall to a 32-27 lead at the half. Miles Amos also scored well for Stuart Hall in the first half, scoring 9 points at the break. Both teams held their ground in the third quarter, but Sacramento was able to dwindle down Stuart Hall's lead to four points heading into the fourth. They made the necessary adjustments in the final period of play, as they were able to tie the game up late and force overtime. That effort would be diminished in the extra period, as Stuart Hall would gain a five-point lead with a minute remaining that would push them to victory. Amos finished with 21 points and 4 rebounds for Stuart Hall, while Sacramento was led by Izayah Talmadge who had 22 points and 14 rebounds.  Hillcrest Prep (AZ) 80 vs. Balboa School (CA) 55 Hillcrest Prep was looking for revenge against Balboa School after losing to them at The Grind Session's event in Phoenix, Arizona earlier this season. Hillcrest Prep jumped out to a 20-8 lead midway through the first half and never looked back on their way to a 37-26 lead at the half. That quick start was paced by senior point guard Demarius Jacobs's 10 points and sophomore guard Kyree Walker's 7. As the teams returned to the floor in the second half, Hillcrest Prep started to pull away from Balboa School on the way to a 25-point victory. Walker scored 15 second half points, including a pair of dunks down the stretch that helped his team solidify the victory. He finished with 22 points and 4 rebounds in an 80-55. Balboa School received strong offensive outputs from Christian Wilson and Mojus Mojus, but it would ultimately not be enough. Wilson finished the game with 8 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 steals, while Mojus added 10 points of his own. Salesian (CA) 86 vs. San Joaquin (CA) 74 After one quarter of play in this one, Salesian held a 17-point lead over San Joaquin, heading into the second quarter with a 25-8 lead. Neither team budged in the second quarter, as San Joaquin was only able to pull within 15 points of Salesian by halftime. Salesian senior guard James Akinjo got hot from three-point range and finished the half with 15 points, while also dishing out 2 assists. San Joaquin's sophomore forward Jalen Green held all the buzz heading into this matchup, but Salesian did a great job of containing him throughout the game on their way to victory. By the end of the third quarter Salesian had grown their lead to 21 points, beating their opponents 66-45 heading into the final period. Akinjo's 27-point effort was a major piece in helping his team to an 86-74 win. Tejon Sawyer also contributed 25 points and 6 rebounds for Salesian. Green finished the game with 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists, while being a driving force in a late comeback push that ultimately fell short. Jonah Geron added 24 points for San Joaquin, and Dameane Douglas finished with 20 points and 8 rebounds. Prolific Prep (CA) 71 vs. Aspire Academy (KY) 51 In the last game to feature members of The Grind Session's core teams, Prolific Prep was able to gain early control and would build on that throughout the game. They held a 33-25 lead at the half behind 13 points from sophomore guard Nimari Burnett. Aspire Academy received the majority of their first half points from junior center Charles Bassey, who had 13 of his team's 25 first half points, as well as grabbing 4 rebounds in the period. Aspire Academy looked to make adjustments in the second half, but Prolific Prep's athleticism became too much for them to handle. Prolific Prep was able to get out in transition and started a dunk fest in the second half, which helped them to a 71-51 win. Senior guard Jeenethan Williams was the leading scorer for Prolific Prep with 22 points, while Burnett had 17 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 assists. Aspire Academy was led by Bassey's 25-point effort, and he also contributed 4 rebounds in the loss. Bishop O'Dowd (CA) 65 vs. Clark (CA) 59 This was the final game of session 1 of Crush In The Valley, and both teams provided an exciting game for fans to watch, as they traded leads until the final buzzer when Bishop O'Dowd was able to pull away with the six-point win. At the end of one quarter, Bishop O'Dowd jumped out to 20-15 lead behind a nice early scoring output from Elijah Hardy, who had 7 points. As the second quarter came to an end, both teams were deadlocked at 30 points a piece before a layup at the buzzer gave Bishop O'Dowd a two-point lead at the half. Nassem Gaskin was a major part of that, finishing the half with 10 points for Bishop O'Dowd. The third quarter was much of the same action, as Clark pulled to within one point of Bishop O'Dowd by the end of the period, getting 12 points from Antwon Jackson entering the final quarter of play. Clark was finally able to take the lead with 1:30 remaining in the game, but Bishop O'Dowd responded with an and-one basket from Gaskin with 42 seconds remaining, which would be enough to push them to victory. They would go on to win 65-59. Gaskin finished with 25 points and 6 rebounds for Bishop O'Dowd, while Hardy added 20 points and 6 assists. Clark's effort was led by Greg Foster Jr., who finished the game with 13 points.

Circuit Rider Shootout: Session 2

By Jordan Kendall, Sunday, Jan 21, 2018 6:10 AM  

Session two of The Grind Session's Circuit Rider Shootout provided a fun day of basketball for the fans from Allen, KY as they were treated to three high-level games. Five teams competed in a format similar to that of session one, as host-school Wesley Christian would be the only team to play two games on the day. Games tipped off around 11:30 AM with a matchup between Wesley Christian and St. Louis Christian, followed by a game featuring The Rock and Tennessee Prep, and would finish with Wesley Christian playing Mountain Mission. All five teams are core members of The Grind Session and were competing for the opportunity to play in The Grind Session's World Championship in March. Here's a recap of how those games went: Wesley Christian (KY) 66 vs. St. Louis Christian (MO) 48 Wesley Christian looked to grab two wins on the day, starting with St. Louis Christian, as both teams battled hard in the first half to control the game. Wesley Christian used a balanced offense to gain a nine-point lead going into halftime behind the outside shooting of sophomore guard Brandyn Talbot and inside presence of junior center Arol Kacuol. Both players continued to rip apart the St. Louis Christian defense in the second half on their way to a 66-48 victory. Kacoul finished the game with 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks, while Tolbot added 13 points of his own. Senior forward Ivan Mikhiev led the way for St. Louis Christian with 15 points, knocking down four three-pointers, while junior forward Chiekh Ndiaye added 12 point as well. The Rock (FL) 91 vs. Tennessee Prep (TN) 73 In the early goings of this matchup there was a lot of back and forth action between the teams and multiple lead changes before halftime. Tennessee Prep looked to feed 6'8" junior guard Antavion Collum in the beginning stages, as he scored in multiple ways; with his back to the basket, knocking down free throws, and even knocking down a three-point jumper. He finished the half with 14 points, yet The Rock still held a three-point lead behind the play of junior guards Trey McCray and Bryan Greenlee. McCray continued to build on that strong first half throughout the second, but junior guard Jaden Campbell came up with nine consecutive points in a long run that helped The Rock to a 91-73 win. McCray was the leading scorer for The Rock with 22 points and Campbell finished with 18, scoring 14 of those points in the second half. Collum led all scorers with 27 points and notched a double-double as he hauled in 11 rebounds. Wesley Christian (KY) 64 vs. Mountain Mission (VA) 58 This was the second game of the day for Wesley Christian, this time taking on Mountain Mission and their two high-major commits in senior guard Daniil Kasatkin and senior forward Flo Thamba. Kasatkin is committed to Penn State, while Thamba recently commited to Baylor. Wesley Christian showed no signs of fatigue as they were able to jump out to 30-21 lead at the half. Sophomore guard Brandyn Talbot played a big part in gaining that early lead with his 9 points and J.B. Ntab added 7 points of his own. In the second half, Wesley Christian came out firing on all cylinders and saw their lead grow to nineteen points with seven minutes left to play. Mountain Mission was able to make a late run, riding the play of Thamba on the low block, but the deficit was too much to overcome as Wesley Christian won 64-58. Talbot finished the game with 21 points, while fellow sophomore guard Kevon Watt notched 13 points and 6 assists. Thamba led Mountain Mission with a 15-point and 6-rebound effort.

Circuit Rider Shootout: Session 1

By Jordan Kendall, Saturday, Jan 20, 2018 7:55 AM  

The Grind Session's Circuit Rider Shootout kicked off gameplay at Wesley Christian School in Allen, Kentucky on Friday with three games, all featuring teams that are members of The Grind Session. Tennessee Prep, Mountain Mission, The Rock, St. Louis Christian, and host-school Wesley Christian are all participating in the Circuit Rider Shootout, as they fight for a place in The Grind Session's World Championship in March. Game one featured a matchup between Tennessee Prep and Mountain Mission, followed by The Rock and St. Louis Christian, and finished with Tennessee Prep against Wesley Christian. Here's a recap of those games: Tennessee Prep (TN) 84 vs. Mountain Mission (VA) 67 Despite having two high-major seniors in Baylor commit Flo Thamba and Penn State commit Daniil Kasatkin, Mountain Mission was no match for Tennessee Prep in this one. Tennessee Prep controlled this game from the tip as they jumped out to an early 20-3 lead behind a hot start from junior guard Antavion Collum. Junior guard Brandon Nicholas and sophomore guard Denver Jones, a recent addition from Buckhorn (AL) High School, chipped in 9 points a piece before the half, as they both shot the ball well from behind the arc. Tennessee Prep took a 24-point lead into the half and continued to build on it after the break as they grew their lead to 73-39 with 6 minutes left to play. Mountain Mission tried to claw their way back into the game late, but their comeback effort fell short as the early deficit was too much to overcome. Tennessee Prep went on to win the game 84-67. They were led by Collum, who finished with 17 points, 8 assists, and 3 rebounds, while Nicholas added 17 points and 5 steals. Thamba scored 17 points and grabbed 6 rebounds for Mountain Mission, despite playing limited minutes in the second half. The Rock (FL) 69 vs. St. Louis Christian (MO) 58 After some back and forth action to start the game, The Rock started to pull away before the half, as they got out to a 22-13 lead with six minutes remaining before the break. That lead grew to 35-19 with a minute until halftime after The Rock's senior guard Antrell Charlton knocked down a triple. St. Louis Christian senior point guard Bailey Dee played well to keep his team in the game late in the second half, finding ways to score and dishing out assists, as they pulled within three points late. That comeback effort would fall short, as a four-point play followed by an and-one helped The Rock grow their lead back to ten points. They went on to win the game 69-58 behind a 17-point effort from Charlton. Junior point guard Bryan Greenlee chipped in 14 points and Trey McCray added 13 points in the win. Dee led St. Louis Christian with 25 points and Alpha Chimbabe scored 14. Wesley Christian (KY) 73 vs. Tennessee Prep (TN) 65 In their second game of the day, Tennessee Prep seemed a bit fatigued, but scrapped their way to an early lead over Wesley Christian. Antavion Collum led that effort for Tennessee Prep with 9 first half points, but 6 points from Wesley Christian's sophomore guard Kevon Watts kept his team in the game. At the break, Tennessee Prep clung to a 28-25 lead and kept the momentum early in the second half, but Wesley Christian had an answer for everything Tennessee Prep threw at them. Junior guard Miki Tadic led the comeback for Wesley Christian with 13 second half points on their way to a 73-65 win. Tadic finished with 13 points, while Watts scored 13. Collum finished the game with 21 points for Tennessee Prep, while Brandon Nicholas and Denver Jones added 11 points a piece.


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