Eagles deliver knock-out punch with Sparrow to win

Eagles deliver knock-out punch with Sparrow to win
December 24
00:00 2015
Photo by Craig T. Greenlee
Chronicle Publisher Emeritus Ernie Pitt, left, and Cheryl Lindsay, Director, Human Resources & Inclusion/Diversity at Hanesbrands Inc., congratulate the winners of the championship game of the Lash-Chronicle JV Tournament on Tuesday night at Carver High School: the East Forsyth Eagles.



East Forsyth’s game plan was simple – play stifling defense and get the ball inside to Connor Sparrow as much as possible. The Eagles did both and came away as convincing 68-58 winners over Reynolds in the championship game of the Lash-Chronicle JV Tournament on Tuesday night at Carver High School.

Sparrow, a 6-foot-5, 250 pound sophomore, owned the post area as if it was his personal property. By game’s end, he had 30 points and 13 rebounds, and was the no-doubt-about-it pick as the tournament MVP.

The victory marked the first time that East Forsyth has ever won the Lash-Chronicle. A year ago, the Eagles beat Reagan in the consolation game for third place.

“Right now, I can’t say enough,” said an elated coach Rodney Minor of East Forsyth. “The plan coming in was to feed the big fella, and we executed that very well tonight. We stuck to our plan and I’m so proud of my guys.”

As productive as Sparrow was, he wasn’t the sole reason for the Eagles bagging a tournament title. Reynolds was taken completely out of its game by East Forsyth’s withering zone press. All during the first half, the first quarter in particular, the Demons labored to bring the ball up-court without making errant passes that led to fast-break baskets for the Eagles.

“We felt like this was our tournament to lose,” said Sparrow, a JV returnee from last season. “Coming in, we had a lot of confidence. That’s because we had a couple of returning players, plus all of the new sophomores we have for this season, got a lot of experience playing on last year’s ninth-grade team. We felt like we could win this thing. So we came out and made our statement.”

Over the first four minutes of the game, East Forsyth bolted to a 15-2 lead. By the end of the first quarter, the score at that point (24-6 Eagles favor) was closer to what you might see in a football game. In the process, East Forsyth continued pounding the ball inside, which created ample space for uncontested shots from the perimeter. All-tournament picks Josh Wiley and Josh Mahaffey took full advantage. Wiley totaled 15 points and Mahaffey contributed 10 points and eight assists.

“During pre-game (warm-ups) I placed a lot of emphasis on being active defensively and getting our hands in the passing lanes,” Minor said. “The whole point was to make them play at our pace. When we do that, we typically wear teams down. On offense, the post softened things up for our outside game. We have some good shooters and they were able to knock down shots with the looks they got.”

The Demons’ inability to generate early offense proved costly. At times, they trailed by as many as 14 points. In the final analysis, it simply was too much to overcome.

“For some reason, we didn’t come out ready to play at the beginning of the game,” said coach Mike McCulloch of Reynolds. “I don’t know if it was because of me or if it was our kids, it’s hard to tell. We let them get ahead way too much.

“I liked our fight and we did get the lead down to nine. At least we made them sweat it out a little bit in the second half.”

Mysta Goodloe gave the Demons a much-needed spark coming off the bench. He finished the game with a team-best 15 points. Ian Henderson (All-Tournament team) and Dashan Adams scored 11 points each to round out the double figures scoring for the RJR.

To its credit, Reynolds did put together a couple of second-half comeback attempts, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Even when East Forsyth’s lead shrank to nine points (46-37 in the third), Minor saw no reason to worry.

“I was never concerned about that,” he said. “Reynolds has some outstanding athletes and scorers. I thought we got a little sloppy in the third quarter, rushing when we didn’t have to, and turning the ball over. That’s what allowed them to get scoring opportunities in transition. Anytime you do that, nothing good happens for your team.”

Titans finish third

The consolation game for third place was relatively close in the first half. All that changed early in the third quarter when West Forsyth scored eight unanswered points. The Titans encountered no problems after that in their 64-51 victory over Mount Tabor.

As things turned out, the early flurry was all that West Forsyth needed. The Titans outscored the Spartans 20-9 in the third, and that settled the issue. Mount Tabor was never able to reduce the deficit to single digits.

Kelvin Johnson topped West Forsyth with 14 points, followed by JaQuan McMillian, who had 13. Jaylon McMillon finished with 11 points.

For Mount Tabor, the tournament’s top seed, Dillon Bullard led all scorers with 22 points. Carson Anthis chipped in with 10 points.


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