QEA wins, takes center stage in basketball showdown

QEA wins, takes center stage in basketball showdown
February 04
00:00 2016
Photo by Craig T. Greenlee
QEA’s Pape Ndiaye (22) traps Word of God center Brandon Huffman (34) on the baseline in last week’s showdown contest.




A change of strategy sparked a second-quarter explosion for Quality Education Academy in its showdown game against Word of God Christian Academy last Saturday. The Pharaohs erupted for 27 points in that quarter, which set the tone for a 78-62 win.

QEA trailed by a point at the end of the first quarter (20-19). By halftime, though, it was vastly different set of circumstances for the home team.  Jaylan McGill scored all of his 10 points in that quarter and Deshawn Corprew added seven points to propel the Pharaohs to a 46-34 lead at intermission.

“Word of God is very good at the guard positions and they tried to spread us out,” said coach Isaac Pitts of QEA. “When we were in a man-to-man, they were able to run at us and the game was tight. So, we decided to play a match-up zone. But we made it look like we were playing man-to-man. That helped us to stay in front of them [on defense] and that’s when the tone of the game changed in our favor.”

This game proved to be a showcase for Corprew, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard who’s getting serious looks from major-college powers such as Louisville, UCLA, Texas, Florida State, Kansas and Oregon. Corprew delivered a game-high 42 points. In the process, he put on a dazzling display of mid-range jumpers, acrobatic drives and 3-point shooting.

“As a team, we’re still getting into a groove, learning how to keep the ball moving against defensive pressure,” said Corprew, who scored 26 points in the second half. “I feel like I’m getting better at getting my teammates involved [offensively] and being a leader on the floor. I just want to continue to do what I’ve been doing to help us get to the national championships.”

The final outcome of this game could be viewed as somewhat of a surprise. That’s because starting point guard Renathan Ono Embo is still sidelined with an ankle injury. Word of God attacked QEA with a full-court press, but the Pharaohs countered by having power forward Marsellis Purvis help with advancing the ball against the Holy Rams’ relentless defensive pressure.

“The real key [to handling their pressure] was Marsellis,” said Pitts, whose team is now 16-3. “Since he’s very sure-handed and has a high basketball IQ, Marsellis was able to help relieve that pressure. Once we got the ball down court, we put it in Deshawn’s hands to make a play.

“When you have the best player on the court, you can spread the floor and slow the game down, which puts him in position to do what he does best. Deshawn is among the top 5 in the country, and everybody knows that.”

While Purvis admits being elated with the victory, he’s acutely aware that there’s a lot more basketball to play. So, there’s still more work to do in order for this team to reach its full potential.

“Things went very well for us tonight,” said Purvis. “But I’m not surprised with the way the game played out. We prepared all week, and we were ready. Sure, we’re doing well this season, but we still have a lot to improve on. As the season progresses, you’re going to see a better team.”

Word of God (5-13) was led in scoring by Jalen Fornes, who finished with 15 points, all of that total coming in the second half. Fornes, a guard, has signed with UNC Wilmington. Brandon Huffman, a 6-foot-9 center, contributed 11 points and five blocked shots.

No marquee match-up

The much-anticipated marquee match-up that was supposed to feature Corprew and Rawle Alkins of Word of God, never materialized. Alkins, a five-star recruit who was the Player of the Year in New York City last year, was absent due to a prior commitment.

QEA was originally scheduled to play Word of God on Jan. 23, and in all likelihood, Alkins would’ve played. However, the Jan. 23 game was cancelled because of the winter storm and rescheduled for Jan. 30, which was the same weekend that Alkins made his recruiting visit to New York.

Alkins, a 6-foot-5 guard who’s being heavily recruited by the heavyweights of college basketball (North Carolina, N.C. State and Arizona, to name few), had already scheduled his official visit to St. John’s prior to last weekend.

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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