Tag Archives: Greenforest

Spielin’ & Dealin’ Ep. 23: Wheeler hires Greenforest’s Larry Thompson

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At 5:41 PM today, Wheeler principal Peter Giles announced on Twitter that the Wildcats had hired 2x state championship winning head coach Larry Thompson away from Greenforest to fill the void left behind by 6x state champion and 25-year leader of Wheeler, Doug Lipscomb. Kyle Sandy discusses what the move means for Wheeler and Greenforest as one school pegs the GHSA’s most successful coach over the past two seasons while the other looks for direction in a crossroads for the program.

Nationally ranked powers ignite capacity crowd at Holiday Hoopsgiving Day 1 nightcap

Contributed by Joe Chapman (@Joe_Chapman3)

The most anticipated night in the 3-year history of the Holiday Hoopsgiving did not disappoint as four of the top-50 high school basketball teams in the country showed out for the standing room only crowd at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School. This night had been hyped up since the September 30th schedule release and it clearly lived up to the anticipation, as there was not an empty seat in the arena and 3+ rows of people standing courtside as well as on the upstairs track. The post-Thanksgiving entrée was obviously the dream-matchup between the top two point guards in the country, Collin Sexton and Trevon Duval, but the appetizer of Georgia powers, Norcross and Greenforest, was not one to miss.

No. 5 Norcross 57, No. 1 Greenforest 46

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Friday night provided us with a rematch from last year’s Hoopsgiving, where Greenforest dominated Norcross, 77-48. The Blue Devils were determined to garner revenge as they led from start to finish in a low scoring, grind-it-out 57-46 affair. Neither team shot the ball very well (both at 30.5%) but Norcross gained the edge at the free throw line, going 17-21 from the stripe. Norcross capitalized all night by catching Greenforest off guard with the fast break. Their lightning quick guards, Jordan Goldwire and Kyle Sturdivant, were getting past the giants of Greenforest and attacked the rim all night. Four Blue Devils scored in double figures and were led by Goldwire with 13 points. The 6’2 senior guard shot 5-13 from the field (1-3 3pt, 2-2 FT) and added 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Goldwire not only produced on the offensive end but was also very stingy on defense as he led the team with 4 steals.

5’10 junior guard, Dalvin White, followed up with an 11 point performance of his own on 3-8 shooting (2-5 3pt, 3-3 FT) while also adding an assist and 2 steals. Rayshaun Hammonds and Lance Thomas each tallied 10 points and were crucial as always for the Blue Devils. The UGA commit Hammonds, also added a huge 9 rebounds in the win. Hammonds and Thomas were integral on the defensive end for Norcross as they made it difficult for the Greenforest guards to feed their big men inside. They didn’t put up huge numbers offensively, but were the X-factors in the win on the defensive end. Look for Norcross to make some noise this season in the new AAAAAAA classification and don’t be surprised if you see the Blue Devils crash the Final Four as they certainly have the talent to do so.

Greenforest was shorthanded in this game as senior point guard Justin Forrest was out due to a foot injury. Leading the way offensively for the Eagles in his place was senior combo guard, David Quimby. Quimby put up 15 in the loss, shooting 6-18 from the field (3-12 3pt). The power trio of Ikey Obiagu, Victor Enoh and Abayomi Iyiola only combined for 11 points on 10 shots. None of the three got enough touches, but credit Hammonds and Thomas of Norcross for helping prevent any easy entry passes to the post. Clearly Greenforest is not the same team without Forrest as they are with him. When he returns, expect this team to return to its dominant ways in Class A-Private as he provides a significant spark that’s just lacking right now. 

IMG Academy 99, No. 2 Pebblebrook 94

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Friday night closed with a bang as the top two point guards in the country, Trevon Duval and Collin Sexton, put on a show for the max-capacity crowd in the main gym at Holy Innocents’. This high scoring affair saw highlight plays on almost every possession as there were explosive dunks, deep 3’s and powerful blocks all night. The crowd “Ooohed and Awed” all night as some of the nation’s top talent proved why this was one of the most anticipated games of the high school season. Both teams shot extremely well (IMG – 61.5%, Pebblebrook – 51.6%) which led to such a high scoring affair.

Duval finished with 24 points on 10-20 shooting (1-4 3pt, 3-7 FT) while adding 6 assists and 5 steals in the win. On the other end, Sexton, deemed by many as “the best scorer in the country”, lived up to this title as he exploded for 39 points (23 in the first half) on 11-18 shooting (5-9 3pt, 12-13 FT). Duval didn’t put up the numbers that Sexton did, but that’s in large part due to his uber-talented supporting cast. Duval controlled the offense all night and kept everything under control. He didn’t make the highlight plays that people are used to seeing but he’s such a smooth basketball player and really makes everyone around him better. He’ll go up and challenge anyone he faces at the rim, while also having the ability to step out and knock down the three. It is no wonder that he is arguably the top high school player in the country and whoever lands his services will be getting a bona fide baller.

The man that brought everyone to their feet the entire night was mega-bouncy, 6’8 junior forward, Emmitt Williams. Williams can fly and he was arguably the most athletic player that stepped in the gym all day. It was dunk after dunk that made everyone shake their heads in amazement as he threw down some of the most powerful rim-rockers that I have ever seen. He finished the night with 21 points on a ridiculously efficient 8-9 shooting (5-5 FT) while also totaling 9 rebounds. While Williams was outstanding on the offensive end, he was just as dominant on the defensive end. He altered shots all night while also totaling 5 blocks. His athleticism made Pebblebrook change their shots all night while also thinking twice about attacking the rim. Williams definitely showed out on one of the country’s biggest stages.

The combination of Williams with 6’9 junior Silvio de Sousa and 6’8, 285-pound Isaiah Stokes pummeled Pebblebrook inside all night. They just bullied their way in the post, getting layups, and snagging rebounds, all while causing the Falcons to foul them multiple times down low. As good as the guard play was for IMG, the difference maker in this game that put them over the top was the size and skill down low. de Sousa added 14 points and 7 rebounds while Stokes tallied another 12 points and 4 rebounds. The 30-14 rebounding advantage for IMG showed that Pebblebrook just doesn’t have the size down low right now to challenge IMG in the paint.

The final big performer for the Ascenders was DeAndre Osuigwe. The senior guard tallied 16 points on 5-10 shooting (4-6 3pt, 2-2 FT) while also adding 4 steals and 2 assists. Osuigwe quieted the crowd all night as he knocked down huge 3-pointers every time Pebblebrook started to make a run. He was a great defender as he battled with Sexton and Drue Drinnon all night while also helping facilitate the offense smoothly. He was very key in the Ascenders victory.

For Pebblebrook, aforementioned Collin Sexton obviously led the way with 39 points and 5 rebounds. He continued to do what he does best by attacking the rim and getting to the line a whopping 13 times. He started off the game ridiculously hot, knocking down three after three to give Pebblebrook the early lead. From the games that I’ve watched during the high school season and travel ball circuits throughout this past year, Sexton is without a doubt the most entertaining player to watch. There’s so much that has already been said about him but his high-energy and high-enthusiasm style of play is just so fun to watch. Avery Johnson and Alabama are getting a downright stud that can easily help turn around a program next year.

Following Sexton in the scoring category was Elias Harden with 16 points on 6-14 shooting (4-10 3pt). Harden can stroke it from just about anywhere on the court and every time he pulls up, you expect it to go in. He hit big shots all night, including a 3-pointer to tie the game at 89 late in the fourth quarter. This kid can definitely make a big impact at Xavier next year as his shooting ability fits in perfectly with their system.

Drue Drinnon also made a solid impact for the Falcons with 13 points on 4-11 shooting (5-6 FT). The 6’0 junior made some big shots all night and fearlessly attacked the rim. He added 5 assists and 2 rebounds in a losing effort but definitely had flashes of brilliance that showed why he is such a highly sought-after recruit.

All in all, this night was just a special evening for all who attended. The enthusiasm the crowd showed all night made the atmosphere that much more entertaining. Even teams like Wheeler and Milton, who had games at different locations earlier in the day, showed up at Holy Innocents’ for the night session to witness some of the best basketball that the state had to offer. Now, Saturday night’s slate features some of the top teams in the state and country in Wheeler and Westlake. If it is anything like the Friday night session, then we are all in for a treat.

Greenforest wins defensive war with Shiloh

No. 1 Greenforest 51, No. 7 Shiloh 40

Opening day of the 2016-17 season saw Southwest DeKalb Showdown III host Class A-Private No. 1 Greenforest vs. Class AAAAAAA No. 7 Shiloh, annually two of the state’s most stingiest defenses. Greenforest’s offense would be put to the test without leading scorer Justin Forrest available to play.

The Generals rushed out to an early 7-2 lead behind Brian Coffey and Greg James but Greenforest’s bench instantly made an impact and helped the Eagles close the quarter up 8-7.

Abayomi Iyiola and Mohammed Abdulsalem combined for six quick points to steer momentum back into Greenforest’s corner in a low scoring defensive struggle.

In the second quarter, Greenforest got the slight separation it needed when Michael Evans drained a three and Terrell Sanders followed by banking in a deep ball, giving the Eagles a 16-9 edge. With Forrest out, Coach Larry Thompson had other guards step up. Evans scored all five of his points in the first half while Dougherty move-in David Quimby made his presence known right away, dropping in 13 points on the night.

At the half Shiloh trailed 26-18. Greg James kept the Generals afloat with seven of his game-high 22 points in the second quarter. He and Coffey combined for 17 of the team’s 18 points at the half.

In the third, Iyiola kept Greenforest ahead and had the Shiloh defense scratching its head as the lanky 6-foot-9 forward poured in mid-range jumpers.

Quimby made it 35-18 at the 4:20 mark of the third when Jandan Duggan found him on a baseline alley-oop. The Generals however would answer with a mini 9-4 spurt keyed by a James three at the buzzer, his fourth of five triples.

James opened the fourth with another three to bring Shiloh within 39-30. The Eagles and Generals continued to trade stops and buckets, while MTSU-signee TJ Massenburg began to make a difference. After a quiet first three quarters, the long-armed big man rose up for a thunderous putback dunk to make it 41-33 with 4:45 remaining and the pro-Shiloh crowd in full throat. But like they did throughout the entire game, Greenforest would thwart any type of Shiloh momentum, pushing the lead back to a 10-point deficit at 45-35 with three minutes left.

Shiloh would cut the lead back down to 47-40 with 56.4 seconds remaining, but would have to start playing the foul game where Duggan beat them from the line, hitting all four attempts and scoring six of his nine points in the final quarter.

 

My Take

Greenforest is still the team to beat in Georgia. Their Dec. 3 matchup with Wheeler should be an instant classic and the winner will get bragging rights as the state’s true best. Even without Justin Forrest, the Eagles didn’t skip a beat. The addition of David Quimby will loom large throughout the year as a guard that can get his own shot and take some of the burden off Forrest once he returns. He, Jandan Duggan and Michael Evans combined for 27 important points tonight. Inserting Abayomi Iyiola into the game off the bench really helped Greenforest take off. When he’s hitting jumpers consistently, the Eagles are difficult to beat. He had a team-high 14 points and 12 rebounds. Ikey Obiagu had an emphatic loud block in the opening seconds of the game against Brian Coffey but he was quiet outside of that, even though he did collect four blocks and seven rebounds. He went 1-for-8 from the foul line and finished with five points. His offensive game is still a work in progress and his explosiveness and ability to log major minutes night-in and night-out is still in question. He had a hard time gathering himself on fastbreaks when the Greenforest guards tried to lob him alley-oops. If the offense and mobility never fully comes around, he can still hang his hat on his rim protecting which will prove to be extremely valuable at all levels.

Only three players scored for Shiloh tonight – the three D-I players. Brian Coffey looked quick with the ball and could get into the paint but when facing 6-foot-8 through 7-footers, there wasn’t much he could do in the paint. The same goes for everyone that plays Greenforest, so Coffey had to rely on the mid-range. Greg James was great for Shiloh, hitting five threes. If he wasn’t on, it is scary to think what the score could have been. The VMI decommit also chipped in 10 rebounds. He is definitely someone that LM schools should look at to provide a boost on the perimeter; after last night’s showing it’s hard to fathom why no one has jumped in on him yet. TJ Massenburg battled valiantly but did have a hard time going at Ikey Obiagu, having his shot blocked a few times. It would have been nice to see him use his soft touch from beyond the arc to draw Greenforest’s bigs away from the basket to create driving lanes for Coffey and James, but I only remember him attempting one.

Top Performers

Greenforest
Abayomi Iyiola – 14 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals
David Quimby – 13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
Jandan Duggan – 9 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 steal
Ikey Obiagu – 5 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 4 blocks
Mohammed Abdulsalem – 2 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals
Victor Enoh – 8 rebounds, 1 assist

Shiloh
Greg James – 22 points, 10 rebounds
Brian Coffey – 10 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists
TJ Massenburg – 8 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 blocks

Greenforest suffocates St. Francis to deny Knights of three-peat

No. 1 Greenforest 78, No. 2 St. Francis 66

Following a disappointing 96-81 championship loss at the hands of St. Francis last year, the Eagles were prepared to slow down five-star McDonald’s All-American and Arizona-commit Kobi Simmons in order to end the Knights’ quest for a three-peat. Behind a dominant defensive performance and a relentless attack from New Hampshire signee John Ogwuche, first-year head coach Larry Thompson and the Eagles captured their second state title in school history, 78-66 in the Class A-Private state championship.

Ranked nationally throughout the year and the owner of the No. 1 ranking in the state the entire season, Greenforest (30-2) made sure it wasn’t going to have a letdown against No. 2 St. Francis (23-8), who came in winners of 10-straight by an average margin of victory of 28.7 points. Greenforest’s size advantage was apparent early as 7-foot junior Ikey Obiagu swatted a shot and came away with a dunk before Precious Ayah, a Miami (OH) signee, added a rim-rocking jam of his own to race out to an intimidating 6-0 lead.

At the end of one, the Eagles led 12-7. Simmons was held scoreless. Obiagu was a difference maker after being a complete non-factor in last year’s loss. The big man fouled out in the fourth quarter but scored six points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked six shots while on the floor.

Greenforest went up 17-8 after Ogwuche found Justin Forrest for an And-1. At the 4:53 mark Simmons finally found the bottom of the net, sinking two free throws to make it 19-13. Simmons did much of his damage from the line as the Eagles focused their game plan around stopping the highly touted recruit, holding him to 8-of-25 shooting; 12-for-18 from the line worth 31 hard earned points.

“That was the game plan,” said Thompson. “We knew he was going to get touches but we didn’t want those touches right on the three-point line. 35-feet out so we could run a second guy at him because I face-guarded him all night. I didn’t want him to get comfortable on that wing and do what he does best, score the basketball. So we had to make him uncomfortable.”

As much as Simmons struggled in the first half (9 points on 1-9 FG), the Knights kept it close. Wallace Tucker drained a three to close the lead to 26-24 with 1:06 left. Ogwuche hit a back-breaking jumper at the horn to build the Eagle lead to 34-25 at the half.

The Eagles came out guns a’ blazing in the third quarter to take a 41-27 lead after Obiagu hit a layup and Ogwuche buried two threes. The senior burned St. Francis for 28 last year in the finals and did it again this season, torching the Knights for a game-high 27 points and five assists connecting on a whopping 14-of-23 free throw attempts while assaulting the rim.

“Wow. What can I say that he didn’t do today? Justin [Forrest] had foul trouble. Jandan [Duggan] had foul trouble. John wouldn’t take no for an answer. He wasn’t losing that basketball game. He put us on his back in the second half [16 points] and willed us to victory. Kid wanted the ball. New Hampshire is getting a heck of a guy next year.”

The Knights trailed by as many as 16, down 51-35 in the third before entering the fourth quarter down 57-45 after Simmons and Abayomi Iyiola traded buckets.

Greenforest’s lead grew to 66-51 with 4:26 remaining before Simmons got hot after a 4-of-18 start to the game. Simmons sparked a 9-3 run by netting seven consecutive points to bring it to 69-60 at the 2:17 mark but a 6-0 spurt keyed by four Ogwuche free throws and a Victor Enoh dunk saw the lead balloon back up to 15 at 75-60 with 1:12 left.

Forrest, a junior, posted 13 points and six rebounds while Ayah went for 10 points and seven rebounds. Iyiola came off the bench and tallied 17 points and seven rebounds in Obiagu’s absence. Chance Anderson was the only other Knight in double figures outside of Simmons with 12 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.

Greenforest was the team to beat all year long but now that the Eagles have the trophy to go along with their great resume, the target is undeniably placed on their back heading into next season.

“That was the goal. We were here last year on the wrong end of it, feeling bad. Guys worked all year. It’s an incredible feeling to beat St. Francis. First class organization, first class program.”

No. 2 Norcross Gets Lost In No. 1 Greenforest’s Trees

1ANo. 1 Greenforest 77, 6ANo. 2 Norcross 48

No. 1 Greenforest put together one of the most impressive two days out of any team in the entire nation at Holiday Hoopsgiving as the Eagles pounded No. 2 Norcross, 77-48. The game was never in question. Greenforest raced out to an 18-5 lead after the first period while Norcross could find zero offense outside of Jordan Goldwire, who scored all five points in the opening frame and finished with 11 points all coming in the first half.

The size of Greenforest troubled the Blue Devils all game. Norcross would attack inside with forwards Rayshaun Hammonds and Lance Thomas but the interior defense of Ikey Obiagu (five blocks) and the rest of the Eagles would swallow their shots up. At one point in the first half the foul count was 7-0 in favor of the Eagles which had Norcross Head Coach Jesse McMillan steamed and rightfully so.

In the second quarter Norcross showed some fight and cut the lead to 29-16 using a full court press and some half court traps to temporarily slowdown the Eagles. McMillan finally got tagged with a technical foul after numerous drives to the basket ended with a shot being blocked or altered and no foul being called. When the half rolled around Greenforest held a 37-21 advantage while the majority of the half Coach McMillan was seen pacing back and forth on the sidelines trying to keep his composure and think of a way to help his team back into the game.

Hammonds finally scored his first bucket of the game in the third quarter off a free throw and finished with a season-low five points and eight rebounds. His partner down low, 6-foot-7 Lance Thomas, was shutout, not scoring a single point. With Norcross’ best two players and largest post presences being a non-factor, it turned into a rout for the Eagles. Greenforest out-rebounded Norcross 44-to-17 and bullied their way to second chance points while limiting Norcross’ opportunities at offensive rebounds.

Justin Forrest scored a game-high 21 for Greenforest and added four assists while New Hampshire-commit John Ogwuche pitched in 12 points, six rebounds and eight assists.

John Ogwuche had a great all-around game | Photo By Ty Freeman
John Ogwuche had a great all-around game | Photo By Ty Freeman

My Take: Domination. After watching Greenforest annihilate two of the very best programs in the state, I can’t envision this team losing a game. Take into account that Montverde (FL), the No. 2 ranked team in the entire nation, beat No. 6 Pebblebrook 76-70. What did the Eagles do to them yesterday? 87-59. They say transitive property doesn’t work in sports, but how can your jaw not drop when you see that? Back to Saturday’s game, it was just like watching grown men against boys. That is not a knock on Norcross. The Eagles literally look like grown men inside and even on the perimeter with John Ogwuche, Justin Forrest, Precious Ayah, Mohammed Abdulsalem and Victor Enoh looking like they live in the weight room. That doesn’t even include 7-footer Ikey Obiagu, who has a nice frame for a big man and Abayomi Iyiola, who is slender but has been all over the place this weekend. Iyiola’s stock has gone through the roof after a 17-point, 12-rebound performance on Friday and Saturday’s 13-point, 5-rebound game. It’s easy to talk about the Eagles’ size, but what I think truly makes this team elite is the guard play of Forrest and Ogwuche. They work extremely well together and are physical guards that aren’t afraid to use their body and fly in for rebounds and also, once they get their shoulders past you on a drive, the rest is history. I saw them feed each other for assists countless times this weekend and nearly never make a mistake.

Like I said earlier, the bigs inside were just physically too big for Rayshaun Hammonds and Lance Thomas. Both are great players but they could get nothing going at all. Holding that duo to five total points is astounding. Greenforest has now spanked a top backcourt in the state and a top frontcourt as well. Jordan Goldwire played well for Norcross and I thought freshman Kyle Sturdivant looked good also. Robert Sims battled hard for Coach McMillan and was up to the task to pick up the slack left by Thomas and Hammonds. He fought for seven points and blocked three shots.

 

Top Performers:

Greenforest
Justin Forrest – 21 points, 4 assists
Abayomi Iyiola – 13 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block
John Ogwuche – 12 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals
Mohammed Abdulsalem – 9 points
Victor Enoh – 7 points, 10 rebounds, 1 block
Ikey Obiagu – 6 points, 13 rebounds, 5 blocks
Precious Ayah – 3 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block

Norcross
Jordan Goldwire – 11 points
Kyle Sturdivant – 11 points, 2 assists
Chris Curlett – 8 points, 3 steals
Robert Sims – 7 points, 3 blocks
Rayshaun Hammonds – 5 points, 8 rebounds