Teams advance after first round of games

Teams advance after first round of games
December 19
00:00 2014
(pictured above:  Adam Warren of Reagan (54) rises over Walkertown’s Kendrick Campbell (21) to make a pass. Photo by Cameron L. Leftwich)

Now that the opening round of the Lash-Chronicle Holiday Classic is a done deal, there’s one question that begs for an answer. Do any of the first-round winners have a legitimate shot at exerting their will in the quarterfinals on Friday, Dec. 19?

Reynolds, Reagan, Mount Tabor, West Forsyth and Lexington are excited about being in a position to make a serious run at the tournament title. The five teams will know their fates by late Friday night when the quarterfinal round ends.

Reynolds/Reagan: This could be the most intriguing of the match-ups in the quarterfinals. These are familiar foes who face each other at least twice every season as members of the Central Piedmont 4-A Conference.

The Demons are at their best when they decide to dig in on defense. Forcing turnovers is team forte, which helps them get into transition and score on fast-break opportunities. Xavier Coles, Arin Broadnax and Ian Henderson are steadying influences for Reynolds.

Reagan, on the other hand, has inside size and sharpshooter Maverick LaRue. The Raiders aren’t overwhelming defensively, but they are good enough to slow opponents down.

The outcome of this game could very well be decided by turnovers and free-throw shooting. And as usual, this will be an emotional face-off because the teams are fierce rivals in athletics.

West Forsyth: There’s no denying that point guard De’Sean Harrell is an impact player. Without him, the Titans are likely to struggle because his on-the-court presence makes the players around him better.

With Harrell setting the tempo, West Forsyth looms as a tough out for any tournament opponent. The Titans also get solid backcourt production from Dwight Palmer (17 points in the first round vs. Glenn) and Kamonyi Becton.

West Forsyth is well-stocked at the perimeter positions, but there’s more to the Titans than shooting jumpers. In the paint, Ben Uloko has emerged as a genuine force and he benefits from having a reliable back-up in Kyron Watson.

The Titans inside-outside game will create match-up problems. But in order to make the L-C final, it’s imperative that West Forsyth plays consistently on defense and gets quality production from its bench.

Mount Tabor: It’s surprising that the Spartans are seeded sixth this year. The day before the Lash-Chronicle seeds were announced, Mount Tabor came very close to beating the Phoenix on its home floor.

Mount Tabor lost 73-69, but showed the kind of bounce-back that bodes well for the future. The Spartans are adept at playing at a fast pace, but are equally proficient in the half-court game. Jake Rutter is a key factor at guard, and he gets plenty of help from Bond Craver, Karon Jeter, Kai Leslie, Michael Muse, Jaylen Peoples, Tyrek McNeil and D’Shon Richards.

A deep bench, along with the ability to defend, rebound and score in a variety of ways, make Mount Tabor a legitimate dark-horse candidate to unseat Winston-Salem Prep as reigning tournament champs. Don’t be surprised if Mount Tabor advances to the championship game for the second year in a row.

Lexington: In some ways, the Yellowjackets are a mirror image of Winston-Salem Prep. Both teams embrace a frenzied, baseline-to-baseline style. Even so, it remains to be seen if Lexington has the right pieces to pull off a stunning upset of the tournament’s No. 1 seed.

There’s an abundance of quickness on the Yellowjackets roster and Marquise Jordan is a proven scorer (24 points vs. North Forsyth in the first round). Defensively-speaking, this team could be in the same class as Prep when it comes to running opponents ragged.

The pressure defense of Lexington guards Vichey Prom, Adrian Craven and Saafir Craven is exceptional. The Phoenix, however, has an overall edge because of its offensive versatility.

See full tournament schedule at



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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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