Dec 21, 2013
The Apex Middle Creek Mustangs are in the field of the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational for the fifth time in school history after competing in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2011. Led by head coach David Kushner, the Middle Creek program has a 5-7 all-time record in the tournament.
The team recorded its best Holiday Invitational finish in 2010 when the Mustangs finished second, falling to Raleigh Ravenscroft in the Shavlik Randolph Foundation portion of the tournament.
According to Kushner, this year’s Middle Creek squad bares little similarity to his tournament teams of the past.
“This is a very different team,” Kushner said. “We don’t have that one player that stands out as definitely the best on the team, but I think we have six kids that could go for 20 points every night. We’ve never had that kind of depth before and that’s an exciting thing moving forward.”
Middle Creek’s scoring threat is led by a group of talented guards in Justin Tankelewicz, John Perron, Keon Smith and Bryson Cousins. Down low, the Mustangs are anchored by senior big-man Fred Iruafemi. Standing at 6-foot-7 and weighing 205 pounds, Iruafemi is the team’s starting power forward and defensive specialist.
“Fred is the best shot-blocker I’ve ever coached,” Kushner said. “He seems to have a sense of how to protect the basket and he’s doing a little bit more of everything else this year as well.”
Middle Creek has a history of putting talented basketball recruits on the court during each of the school’s Holiday Invitational appearances. All-time, the Mustangs have five all-tournament players in Marcus Kitts (2006), Garius Adams (2008), Tom Tankelewicz (2008), Leon Hargrove (2010) and Quinton Ray (2010), but Kushner likes his chances to win on the court with the players he has now.
“The national teams this year are as good as any field I’ve seen since I’ve coached,” Kushner said. “This year, as a whole, we don’t have the big-time national player, but what we have are a lot of kids who understand their role and a lot of kids who can shoot the ball. If we get hot on any given day, I think we can have a chance against anyone.”
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