Kyle Sandy catches up with some GHSA standouts at the IndiHoops Tip-Off Classic including Georgia’s top 2019 prospect Isaac Okoro, Jalyn McCreary, Joshua Jackmon, Kenton Eskridge, Tyrin Lawrence, Devin Vassell, Travis Anderson, Cameron Holden and Hunter McIntosh. The episode closes with an exclusive interview with Furman University’s Jordan Lyons. McIntosh High School’s all-time leading scorer talks about the transition from high school to college.
5ANo. 3 McIntosh 69, 4ANo. 6 Sandy Creek 51
— Kyle Sandy (@KyleSandy355) December 19, 2015
Sandy Creek High School was jam packed on Saturday afternoon in a game that featured two top ten programs hailing just 10 minutes apart from each other. What the fans received was a highlight laden contest, but a lopsided result as No. 3 McIntosh outclassed a talented No. 6 Sandy Creek team, 69-51.
The atmosphere was set for an intense game, meaning there was no better stage for Jordan Lyons to make history. The prolific scorer signed to play his college ball at Furman entered trailing former Chief Jeff Sheppard for the all-time boys scoring record by two points. Sitting at 1,917 points, a three-pointer would shatter Sheppard’s record of 1,919. To nobody’s surprise all it took was seconds into the game for Lyons to etch his name in the record books and continue to build on a legacy that will never be forgotten.
On the very first play of the game, Wofford signee Dishon Lowery swung the ball to the right wing where Lyons was ready to catch and fire. Bang. His three-pointer didn’t only move him into first place in boys program history and second behind Gabby Seiler for the school record, but it also set the tone as McIntosh led nearly wire to wire and never relented in a statement game that proclaimed the Chiefs are still the team to beat in Fayette County.
— Kyle Sandy (@KyleSandy355) December 19, 2015
McIntosh leapt out to a quick lead and rode Will Washington the rest of the way. Three dunks in a row put the Chiefs up 9-4 early in the game after monster slams from Lowery and Chase Walter after sloppy defense by the Patriots. In total, the Chiefs would throw down four dunks in the opening frame highlighted by a Washington to Walter alley oop. At the end of the first quarter, McIntosh held a 20-15 lead in a fast pace game.
— Kyle Sandy (@KyleSandy355) December 19, 2015
The Chiefs began to open up a lead, but Elias Harden kept Sandy Creek in the game and hit three three-pointers in the first half to draw the Patriots to within 27-26. But from that point on, it was all McIntosh. The Chiefs used a 16-0 run to blow open a 43-26 lead early into the third quarter. Washington was the key cog from his point guard position, making dazzling play after dazzling play. At the half McIntosh led 38-26 with Washington creating 25 of the team’s points, scoring 14 of his own and handing out five assists.
Sandy Creek had no answer for Washington and the bruising play inside of Lowery and Walter, who finished the night with 14 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and four blocks and 10 points and seven rebounds respectively.
The Patriots went ice cold after drawing within one-point in the second quarter and McIntosh knew what to do after smelling blood in the water. Sandy Creek would never threaten in the second half.
My Take: Will Washington is the best pass-first true point guard in the entire state, hands down. His game is so smooth and his ability to find open teammates is uncanny and unteachable. For the third time this season, Washington left me shaking my head wondering why D-1 schools are not all over him. He finished with 25 points, five rebounds, eight assists and two steals and completely outplayed Christian Turner, a Gardner-Webb signee, who was stuck on six points for most of the game until a couple garbage time baskets. I wondered if Sandy Creek’s pressure could get to McIntosh’s guards — a resounding ‘no’. I wondered if Evan Jester and Keith Heard II were up to the task of banging bodies with the bulkier and more experienced Chase Walter and Dishon Lowery — ‘no’. Lowery and Walter combined for 24 points, 20 rebounds, three assists and five blocks while Jester and Heard only mustered up nine points, 12 rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block.
The most troubling thing I saw tonight was Sandy Creek trying to throw lobs off the backboard down 17 in the second half. There is a time and place for that; it’s not when your crosstown rival is throttling you. Elias Harden played well with 25 points, but he and the rest of the Patriots lived by the jumper and died by the jumper in the first half. Christian Turner wasn’t his usual aggressive self and didn’t attack the paint with much success. The Patriots hadn’t played for two weeks and it showed; definitely a brutal draw to play such a powerful team after the long layoff. Coach Anthony McKissic will have a lot of bulletin material to use and will have a nice opportunity to do some teaching and get Sandy Creek back inline as they re-enter region play.
Will Washington – 25 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals
Dishon Lowery – 14 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 blocks
Jordan Lyons – 13 points
Chase Walter – 10 points, 7 rebounds
Elias Harden – 25 points, 5 rebounds
Christian Turner – 11 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
Evan Jester – 6 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block
Keith Heard II – 3 points, 6 rebounds
Feature Photo By Adam Hagy
Entering the 2015-16 high school basketball season, there are many teams with dreams and aspirations of capturing a title. But there is one school that seems to be on a mission and has a hunger that has been growing since an unfortunate early ending a year ago after an unblemished 28-0 regular season.
The McIntosh Chiefs were in cruise control entering the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs before starting point guard Will Washington (12.7 ppg, 9.3 apg) went down with a broken wrist on a layup attempt against M.L. King. The Chiefs would fall 66-65, ending their shot at the dream season.
With a loaded senior class returning, the Chiefs have one last shot at making history. Jordan Lyons (24.7 ppg) is one of the stars on this balanced team. The guard has committed to Furman and thinks that fun things are in store for McIntosh fans and fans of basketball in general.
“This year fans can definitely expect to see a very mature and organized team, a team that executes well. A team that can get up and down but can also run plays in the half court. Very exciting. A team that is going to play good defense; a veteran team,” explained Lyons.
And Lyons ain’t lyin’. Eight seniors are all expected to contribute heavily and have the experience to do so. Lyons described Washington as “one of the best true point guards in the state.” He continued on to say, “He’s always looking to make the right pass. …He’s our floor general.”
A missing piece to last year’s puzzle might have been found in Isaac Kellum (13.8 ppg), a 6-foot-4 swingman who transferred over from Fayette County this summer.
“Isaac brings us the length and athleticism at the three spot that we never really had,” said Lyons.
Kellum will also help out rebounding on the interior alongside the likes of recent Wofford-commit Dishon Lowery (10.5 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 3.3 bpg) and Chase Walter (10.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.8 bpg).
“They are both going to rebound. They both love contact, they both bang, they both block shots and alter shots and do things out of bigs that we need.”
As balanced as the starting five is, Lyons is quick to remind us not to forget about the depth on the bench. Braxton Shaw, who finished second on the team in three-pointers made last season as a junior, is back to bring a lethal deep threat. Lyons tabbed him as “one of the best sharpshooters out there.”
Ulysses Brown brings sticky defense on the perimeter and Brendon Rowan is the consummate glue-guy that helps Coach Jason Eisele’s team out in a plethora of different ways.
The Lead Lyon
With all the perfect components in place, there still has to be a centerpiece to complete the work of art that is the McIntosh Chiefs. That centerpiece is none other than Mr. Jordan Lyons himself. Efficiency is the name of the game for Lyons with his astronomical shooting numbers (66% 2PT, 87% FT, 45% 3PT). But by being the top-scoring option on one of the best teams in the state, does that bring an extra burden or pressure applied to Lyons’ shoulders? He doesn’t think so.
“I wouldn’t say that it’s pressure on me. Scoring is really just what I do. It’s my big time role and the team needs me to score points. I’ve been the leading scorer on the team since my freshman year so I think Coach Eisele has put a lot of confidence in me over these past four years which has really helped my play on the court because I know he believes in me.”
Even though Lyons might fill up the box score nightly, he knows he can’t do it alone.
“I can’t do it by myself. I need the help of my great teammates and I know I’ll get the help from them.”
Lyons mentioned Coach Eisele and the confidence he has instilled in him and touched on it further.
“I have a lot of respect for Coach Eisele, I love him to death. He brought me into the varsity program as a 14-year-old,” explained the senior shooting guard who has scored 1,737 points over his career and is now chasing Gabby Seiler’s all-time record of 2,003. “He gave me the confidence to be a very good player at the varsity level at 14 years old…He’s always believed in me. He’s stuck with me through everything.”
It’s not only an exciting time for the players and fans, but for the coaching staff as well. Eisele has a loaded group and him and his staff have matured through the years along with the Class of 2016. Attention to detail has been more and more pronounced and a tight and clean style of play has been the result. Before this year’s senior class arrived at McIntosh, the Chiefs had been a middle of the road team, going 12-11, 16-12 and 12-12 before the program and culture changing class arrived for the 2012-13 season.
Year-one saw the Chiefs finish 17-8. Year-two, 19-10 before nearly putting it all together last season at 29-1. It has been a constant growing process and the fruits of McIntosh’s labor are finally ready to come to fruition, but for that to happen, there is only one fitting ending to this storybook tale: a state championship.
“The ring is really the most important thing to all of us,” stated Lyons. “Last year we won the first region championship in our school’s history. Our whole year that was our goal.”
McIntosh, Lyons, Lowery, Washington, Coach Eisele, the entire group, understands that it’s now or never.
“This year, there’s no second chance. We all understand there is no next year, no tomorrow. This is the last time, the last opportunity. We really got to go get it,” said Lyons. “We got to be focused day in and day out. We got to be on a straight line and eliminate everyone else that’s not in a straight line, so we can get to where we want to be. We just got to focus on what we have to do every day and just get better every day and we’ll know that we’ll be okay.”
Extra motivation to accomplish the dream of winning a state title stems from last year’s heartbreaking loss after the injury to Washington.
“It’s personal to him and it’s personal to all of us. We’ve been waiting for this for four years. We know this is our year; we got to go do it. We know we can. We all know we can.”
It is no doubt it’s state championship or bust, but when asked what this group of seniors and he personally would like to leave as a lasting legacy, Lyons said, “I definitely want people to remember that I always wanted to be a good teammate. I always wanted to lift my teammates up.”
“I just wanted to put McIntosh on the map. McIntosh has never been known for basketball and I know when Will, myself and Dishon came into the varsity program, especially when we told ourselves we wanted to make an impact on this program, we wanted to take this program to heights and levels that they’ve never seen before and we’ve just been doing great things since our freshmen year. We’ve been blessed with many opportunities, records broken, we’ve done many things in our career at McIntosh and we are very blessed and fortunate to have those opportunities. …We want to be known as great humble players that never took anything for granted.”
With one solitary goal in mind and a group of men with a respected leader in charge, Jordan Lyons and McIntosh should not have to worry about ever taking things for granted.
Featured Image Photo By Michael Clifton / www.kombatkamera.com