Lemon Street Classic – Day 2 Roundup Pt 2
MARIETTA, GA – We polish off our Lemon Street with 4 more capsules from Day 2.
By: Keith Agran
NORTH GWINNETT (10-3) W 64-56 vs Alexander >> These 10 wins for the Dawgs include wins over teams from 2 other states as part of their pre-holiday travels, and concluded after the Alexander win by capturing their bracket at Lemon Street Tuesday over Langston Hughes. Against the Cougars, it was once again a lot of RJ Godfrey showing off both the physical package as well as the expanded ballhandling he has taken on in the absence of Amaru Grosvenor. His 20 points even with late foul trouble set the tone for the game as even a disciplined and sound Alexander defensive team had little answer for Godfrey’s bruising approaches to the hole. Senior SG Thomas Allard might not have had the scalding hot hand he had Saturday (when he knocked down an astounding 13 3’s), but he still garners a ton of attention and that opens space for others. The hero of the hour in keeping the Cougs at bay was senior wing Dylan Gary, who got 15 of his 22 in a monster 4th when Godfrey was either benched with 4 fouls or playing more cautiously to stay on the floor, Gary was efficient and shot it with a ton of confidence.
ALEXANDER (8-1) L 64-56 vs North Gwinnett >> Followed up the tough loss to the Dawgs with a solid win Tuesday against Etowah, and this group is one that seriously warrants watching as we discussed after their win over Paulding County prior to Lemon Street. Super soph Braedan Lue was neutralized a bit by the excellent NG defense, so senior wing Zion Fruster took to the forefront and was superb once again (17 pts) using his exciting brand of open floor explosion and sweet-stroke deep shooting. There are options galore for the Cougs, Noah Melson can be as dynamic as anyone West of the city, and seniors Jah’Kim Payne and Joffrey Nunnally are savvy vets who make smart and winning plays more often than not in support of the other explosive Alexander pieces. When Lue is cooking inside and Fruster outside, with all this experience together with some young exciting components, its spells a group that will be in the 6A mix potentially all the way to the end.
GROVETOWN (11-2) W 65-37 vs West Forsyth >> Beating Atlanta-area teams seems to be the only way these Warriors can get the respect I think they deserve, much like Region mates Heritage out of Conyers. And wins at Lemon Street over a 10-win West bunch and the next day over an always solid Lithonia program should alleviate some of that doubt. But it’ll still be an uphill battle for the kids from just outside Augusta, despite a roster with the likes of stud juniors Malik Ferguson, Frankquon Sherman and Markel Freeman together with rising-sophomore Derrion Reed. At 6-4 with a frame built for the next-level already, Ferguson has embraced more of the PG-duties for Coach Darren Douglas and that has changed their dynamic. His downhill brand of play from the outside-in forces defenses to collapse in coordinated help, leaving Sherman available to do damage with his efficient and powerful finishing in close. Reid has moved to a more perimeter role at 6-6 with the transfer Sherman on hand, and even though he went scoreless against West, we know what’s he’s capable of in spurts. Freeman is a powerhouse, running-back style wing attacker who can use brute strength on the way to the basket or glide in off the break. The complementary pieces like DJ Douglas and Aaron Nomel, both 6-8, and guards Jaden Cobb and Khaleed Heywood, are not to be underscored in the recipe for the Warriors, as they contribute to a suffocating defensive style and up-tempo fast break that on this day was too much for a really good Wolverines team. A 6A deep playoff run is far from outrageous.
WEST FORSYTH (10-2) L 65-37 vs Grovetown >> With just 24 hours to prepare for Grovetown after filling in for a Covid pull-out, one can easily give this solid Wolverine bunch a pass against a team as dynamic as the Warriors. Coming in on a 10-game winning streak after an opening loss to Johnson (Savannah), there were impressive wins over Lovett, Roswell, River Ridge and Lambert leading up to this, and plenty of warranted confidence. But they never got untracked Monday, never quite got the shooting on par, and the bigs combo of Grant Moore and Jake Mooney were matched and pounded upon by a wave of size and athleticism from the Warriors. Still, that senior duo has been superb the first 12 games, and together with fellow 2022 SG Caleb Lesch has been a terrific trio in getting West into this strong position heading to January. The emergence of exciting sophomore guard Will Moore (Grant’s brother) gives them a key 2nd option from the perimeter, and with North Gwinnett and the rest of the tough Region 6-7A still ahead on the schedule, this team will be seriously battle-tested and plays a sound brand of ball that will be a tough out on any given night come 7A playoff time.
Keith Agran has lived in Georgia since 2011 and joined OTR as a National Evaluator in 2021. He previously scouted for Prep Hoops dating back to 2019 and has both a championship-coaching background on the HS-level and daily newspaper writing experience, both from New Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BracketSage.
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