Tag Archives: Greenforest

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:

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

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

Greenforest’s Size Dominates Smaller Falcons Inside

1ANo. 1 Greenforest 87, 6ANo. 6 Pebblebrook 59

Before the game, Greenforest’s size advantage was one major factor as to why Pebblebrook entered as a slight underdog. That size advantage was fully taken advantage of by Coach Larry Thompson’s team as the Eagles out-rebounded the Falcons 42-to-18 to blow past Pebblebrook at Holiday Hoopsgiving. At the end of one, the Falcons tried to stay close and trailed 29-19, but the second quarter became a microcosm of the game. Sophomore wide body Mohammed Abdulsalem entered the game and posted seven points and four rebounds before finishing with nine points and nine rebounds. Greenforest pounded the glass all night and came away with second-chance point after second-chance point.

Abdulsalem’s work inside was strong, but the astronomical improvement of five-star junior center Ikey Obiagu was one of the main storylines seen. The 7-footer scored 15 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked four shots. Pebblebrook was powered by Auburn signee Jared Harper, but the 5-foot-11 guard couldn’t find much help outside of Collin Sexton and JJ Smith. Harper scored a game-high 29 points with four threes, while Sexton chipped in 12 points and Smith finished with 11.

Ikey Obiagu is a big presence in the middle
Ikey Obiagu is a big presence in the middle

Greenforest’s balance was unmatched as nine players scored led by New Hampshire bound guard John Ogwuche’s 19. Abayomi Iyiola posted a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Justin Forrest scored nine and dished out seven assists, Precious Ayah added seven points and nine rebounds and Jaden Duggan chipped in six, all from the line, to round out the Eagles’ top scorers.

My Take: Boy, oh boy. Greenforest is a terrifying team when they are clicking. They have frontcourt size that nearly every NCAA Division-One team would covet. Let’s start with the biggest of them all, Ikey Obiagu. This was just the second time I have ever seen the 7-footer play. I watched him come off the bench in the state championship a year ago and score two points, grab zero rebounds and foul out. When I heard he was a five-star prospect this summer I laughed. When I saw him tonight I was amazed. He showed a deft touch inside and some nice post moves to go along with advanced footwork for a man of his stature. I can totally see why every high major program in the country is hot after him. Abayomi Iyiola might have been the most impressive outside of Obiagu. His 17 points and 12 rebounds was just pure hustle. Put him alongside Ikey and Mohammed Abdulsalem who is an absolute bull in a china shop down low and you have a team that will massacre others on the glass. John Ogwuche and Justin Forrest did what they had to do from their guard spots and were as solid as it gets, simply making the right decisions on the floor and not trying to do too much. As far as things go for Pebblebrook, I expect them to be extremely dangerous when they aren’t playing NBA frontlines. Jared Harper is fun to watch and isn’t afraid to challenge in the lane with floaters or pull up for long threes. Against elite teams however, he will need some help. JJ Smith showed some flashes with some tough baskets, but he looks to be far too good of a player to only score 11 points. Collin Sexton will be a nice running mate and the trio should have some fun in the high scoring Region 3-AAAAAA. Productive size inside will be important to find, also a glue guy as well. Trhae Mitchell and Derek Ogbeide are missed, but so is Kevin Murph. The year is young however and I’m confident Coach George Washington will find someone to step up and fill those important roles.

Top Performers: 

Abayomi Iyiola – 17 points, 12 rebounds
John Ogwuche – 19 points, 2 assists, 2 steals
Ikey Obiagu – 15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 blocks
Justin Forrest – 9 points, 7 assists
Mohammed Abdulsalem – 9 points, 9 rebounds, 1 block
Precious Ayah – 7 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks

Jared Harper – 29 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
Collin Sexton – 12 points
JJ Smith – 11 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks

Holiday Hoopsgiving Primer: No. 1 Greenforest (3-0) vs. No. 6 Pebblebrook (1-1)

1ANo. 1 Greenforest (3-0)  vs.  6ANo. 6 Pebblebrook (1-1) 

The fourth game of the day in Holy Innocents’ Gym 1 on Day 1 of Holiday Hoopsgiving at 4:30 PM presents one of many powerhouse matchups. Two state runner-ups from a year ago clash in a meeting between differing strengths.

No. 1 Greenforest has crushed its opponents thus far and notched a clean sweep in the Jared Cook Classic, highlighted by an 87-46 blowout of Lee (AL), a game in which the Eagles led 24-0 after the first period. First-year Head Coach Larry Thompson inherits a loaded group and the largest font court in the state that goes 6-7, 6-8, 6-9, 6-10 and 7-0 five-star junior center, Ikey Obiagu. Greenforest’s size inside makes them nearly impossible to score on, but their guard play is the unsung cornerstone of the foundation. Junior Justin Forrest averages 19.7 points while senior John Ogwuche is a New Hampshire-commit that pours in 17 per game. Abayomi Iyiola, Precious Ayah and Victor Enoh anchor the paint around Obiagu, who is thought of as the best shot blocker in the country after making leaps and bounds this offseason after showing flashes as a raw sophomore in 2014-15. The trees inside along with the savvy guard play has helped the Eagles allow just 46 points per game.

Coach Larry Thompson among the Greenforest trees
Coach Larry Thompson among the Greenforest trees

While the Eagles have the size inside, the Falcons of Pebblebrook counter with lightning quick guards who know how to score the ball. Jared Harper, all 5-foot-11 of him – which may be gracious, is often times the best player on the court. The Auburn signee can fill it up and has notched games of 29 points and 11 assists and a 38-point game in a win over Blanche Ely (FL), 64-63. Pebblebrook plays its first regular season game of the year against a Georgia based team after splitting in the Montverde Academy Invitational. Montverde (FL), the No. 2 ranked team in the nation, defeated the Falcons 76-70 in the season opener.

Jared Harper is a diminutive dynamo | Photo by Ty Freeman
Jared Harper is a diminutive dynamo | Photo by Ty Freeman

Aside from Harper, new additions Jatrious (JJ) Smith and Collin Sexton are electrifying on the perimeter. Smith can score when needed, rebound and also be a playmaker. He scored 11 points and handed out six assists in their win over Blanche Ely. Sexton comes from Hillgrove and has already produced a 40-point game in a scrimmage. Inside, 6-foot-8 Tyler Morman transfers over from Norcross to help fill the void left by Georgia Bulldog freshman Derek Ogbeide.

X-Factors: Stars are a plenty in this game, but I think the game will be won on the perimeter. If Pebblebrook’s guards can outplay Greenforest’s significantly, they may be able to negate the size advantage the Eagles have inside. I look for JJ Smith to show off his versatility and to emerge as a difference maker alongside Jared Harper and Collin Sexton. His elite athleticism makes him a threat to post a triple-double on any given night. For Greenforest, John Ogwuche will need to control the offense and corral the smaller and quicker guards of Pebblebrook.