East Forsyth undefeated in conference play

East Forsyth undefeated in conference play
March 05
00:00 2015
(Above: Photo by Charles E. Leftwich- Connor Sparrow’s presence in the low post was key factor in East Forsyth’s success.)

This is the second of a two-part series on junior varsity basketball in Forsyth County. Last week’s article featured schools in Classes 1-A, 2-A and 3-A. This week’s season wrap-up story focuses on the Class 4-A schools.

East Forsyth went 12-deep this season with a roster full of mobile athletes who play at full speed from opening tip-off to final buzzer.

That’s one reason why the Eagles are just one of two county teams to go undefeated in conference play this season. Winston-Salem Prep is the other. East closed the season with a rush, winning 13 of its last 14 games.

“We hit some bumps early in the season,” said Coach Rodney Minor, whose team finished the season at 18-5 and 10-0 in the Piedmont Triad Conference. “But we kept grinding it out, day-by-day and game-by-game. I’m so proud of how our guys fought night-in and night-out.”

The Eagles never had to rely on one player to carry the scoring load in every game. With its quality of depth, East Forsyth always had someone to deliver when it was needed most. Connor Sparrow, Sherrod Wells, Brandon Tate, Devin Higgins, Darius Goolsby and Curtis Coleman took turns leading the way offensively.
The development of Sparrow, a freshman post player who averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds, was crucial. With Sparrow operating inside, defenses were forced to collapse, making it easier for teammates to drive to the basket for lay-ups or make kick-out passes for uncontested 3-pointers.
Mount Tabor
Board work, pesky defense and quick-strike offense propelled Mount Tabor (16-4, 11-1 conference) to the top spot in the Central Piedmont Conference.

The Spartans limited opponents to one shot and generated their share of points courtesy of offensive put-backs. Opposing teams had trouble matching Mount Tabor’s intensity on the glass.

Mount Tabor lost two of its best JV players (Jake Rutter and Karron Jeter) in the closing weeks of the regular season to the varsity. The Spartans kept rolling.

Bond Craver, Kai Leslie, Isaiah Wilkins, Jaylen Peoples. T.J. Stevens, Teddy Christakos and Tyrek McNeil elevated their games to ensure that the Spartans would secure the league’s regular-season title.

There weren’t many teams better than Reagan (19-4, 10-2 CPC) this season. The Raiders prevailed over all challengers except Winston-Salem Prep, East Forsyth and conference rival Mount Tabor.

The ability to play at any tempo was a big plus for this group. Malik Miles, Maverick LaRue and Dylond Lindell were the key players. Yet, there were times when Reagan struggled due to its lack of size at the low post positions.

“We had problems with teams that had some size,” said Coach Jeff Noe. “The lack of rebounding was our crutch. But I’m proud of what this team accomplished. Basketball is a game of highs and lows. In our case, we were fortunate to have a lot more highs than we had lows.”

Being consistently inconsistent put Reynolds (12-9, 5-7 CPC) in a bind. While the Demons had sufficient talent to more than hold their own, their erratic play proved to be too much to overcome.

“This team was much better than its record,” said Coach Mike Coker. “We just didn’t play up to our potential. With the players we have coming back for next year, we’ll work on shooting, decision-making and improving basketball I.Q. during the off-season.”

Combo guard Xavier Coles provided a spark at both ends of the court for the Demons. During the month of February, power forward Lemuel Gaither emerged as a formidable factor in the paint.

At times, the season was a struggle for Parkland (13-10, 5-7 CPC). As things turned out, the Mustangs saved the best for last and won three of their last four games.

In victories over North Davidson, Glenn and East Forsyth, Parkland helped its cause by minimizing floor mistakes and taking higher percentage shots. “I was very satisfied with our play over the final couple of weeks,” said Coach Shawn Smoot. “We had good ball movement and did so much better with our shot selection.”

The top players for the Mustangs were Darryl Williams, Kobe Young and Casey Wilkins. Late in this season, Tahj Daniels came off the bench to provide timely scoring from 3-point range.

Considering what transpired over the course of the season, Glenn’s record (11-9, 5-7 PTC) is misleading. The Bobcats went through a rough stretch in which they suffered eight straight, single-digit losses.

According to Coach Clarence Hosch, wins and losses shouldn’t the sole focus at the JV level. It’s more about getting the players ready for the varsity.

“I like winning as much as any other coach,” he said. “But the emphasis is skill development. I look at where they were when they started and compare that to where they were when they finished. Based on that, it’s clear that there was a lot of growth this season, and I’m satisfied with that.”

Josh Jenkins and Marcus Harris developed nicely as a backcourt tandem. Jordan Ward, Bryson Bell-St. John and Ryan Bussell continued to improve with each game. Luke Chamberlin proved himself as a viable low-post presence toward the latter part of the season.

West Forsyth
This team showed so much promise in late December. As the No. 7 seed, West Forsyth put on a stunning holiday run that put in the Lash-Chronicle Classic finals against eventual champ Winston-Salem Prep. The Titans lost 69-64 and had the look of a legitimate contender in the CPC.

The remainder of the season was a rollercoaster ride for the Titans (10-11, 5-7 conference).  In spite of Mason Matrey’s stellar all-around play, West Forsyth never delivered any semblance of consistency.

“Things didn’t turn out the way we hoped it would, but our kids still played hard and put forth a collective effort,” said Coach Jeffrey Williams. “Hopefully, they learned a few things about how to excel.”

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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