Loss keeps W-S Prep boys ready for the fall

Loss keeps W-S Prep boys ready for the fall
March 26
00:00 2015
(Above: Photo by Craig T. Greenlee- Zaire Williams blossomed as an inside presence as a sophomore.)

The returning cast for Winston-Salem Prep’s boys’ basketball team isn’t likely to need any prodding when pre-season practice begins next fall.

The memories of a 3-point loss in the Class 1-A state championship game is sure to remain fresh in the minds of the Phoenix.

There’s one banner hanging inside Prep’s gym that will provide an ample visual reminder.

This particular banner recognizes WSP as the state runner-up for 2015, and it will stand out. That’s because there are four other banners which symbolize state championships won by the Phoenix in previous seasons.

Prior to its 67-64 loss to East Carteret two weeks ago, Prep had won three state championships in a row.

“Yes, we were disappointed with the loss,” said Coach Andre Gould. “We realized that our (championship) run would eventually come to an end. But now we’ll go back to work and see if we can start another run.

When our players look at that runner-up banner, they’ll be more motivated than ever. We’re looking to continue to play for championships for years to come. That’s the culture that we’ve established. Sure, we have players with talent. But it’s more about the hard work they put in on and off the court.”

Winston-Salem Prep (20-8) loses three seniors (Kwa’Tre Hollingsworth, D.J. Harrison and Keeshon Patrick) who got meaningful playing time. Gould’s cupboard, however, is hardly bare.

At the guard slots, Daivien Williamson, Justice Goodloe, Josh Gould and Daviar Dixon are skilled and seasoned. These first-year players gained a lot of experience from playing in big games this season. All four will continue to elevate their level of play as they mature.

Kendrick Edwards, a 6-feet-4 forward, operates mostly from mid-range and in the paint on offense. Edwards is a relentless offensive rebounder who gives the Phoenix an added dimension with his size, strength and quickness. Those attributes allows Edwards to guard every position on the floor.

The emergence of Zaire Williams as a premier post player gives Prep a decided advantage. Williams, a 6-feet-seven, 250 poundsophomore with an array of inside moves, wreaked havoc at both ends with his bulk, passing skills and lateral quickness. Ne’quan Carrington provides stability on the front line as a dependable inside scorer, rebounder and defender.

Williams, who finished with nine points and nine boards, had a significant impact on the game’s final outcome. The Mariners didn’t have anyone who could match-up against Williams one-on-one. He made them pay by scoring Seven points and pulling down six rebounds in the first half.

East Carteret adjusted its defense in the second half, which made the Phoenix more dependent on outside shooting. The Mariners applied intense on-ball pressure, which made it difficult for Prep’s guards to feed Williams whenever he posted up.

This was especially problematic of Prep in the fourth quarter, when Williams failed to score because he couldn’t get any quality touches in the paint. East Carteret used its quickness to swarm Prep’s passers and deflect or steal entry passes intended for Williams. When Williams did get the ball inside, he was immediately surrounded by three defenders and had little or no room to maneuver.

“As a coach, I’m always learning,” Gould said. “East Carteret did an excellent job of bracketing Zaire and he got a little frustrated. There are ways to counter what they did defensively. We’ll go to work on that and be better prepared as a result.”

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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