FINAL: Undersized Cougars fall to Word of God
Posted December 26, 2012
Updated December 27, 2012
FINAL, Word of God 58 Apex 47 : Using a 9-point lead as a springboard going into the 4th quarter, the Word of God Holy Rams kept up the intensity and never allowed Apex to come within 7 points in the final minutes as they advanced past the Cougars in the second game of the Shavlik Randolph Bracket.
Junior guard TJ Evans had a rough time on the floor during the first half, but turned the performance around and finished the game with 22 points. Impressive Apex freshman Ian Boyd added 14 points, but it was not enough.
The Cougars were the smaller team, and it clearly showed on both ends of the court throughout the game. The Cougars fell short in the rebounding category and committed 21 total turnovers. They also failed to stop Lehigh-commit Shane Whitfield, who had 18 points and 7 rebounds to lead the Holy Rams. Pittsburgh-commit Joshua Newkirk added 16 points and scored on some impressive dunks to get the crowd involved.
Word of God will go on to play Webb High School on Friday at 9 pm. Apex High School will play the Clinton Rockets on Friday at 11 am.
END 3Q, Word of God 45 Apex 36 : After maintaining a 5-point lead for the large part of the first half, the Holy Rams came out in the third quarter to extend the lead further. Size has seemed to be the story of the night so far for the two teams, as the Cougars have had no way to guard the taller and more physical Holy Ram players down low. The Holy Rams have played a big lineup with Shane Whitfield and Tyrek Coger down low at the same time. The undersized Apex Cougar frontcourt does not have the ability to stop both players at the same time. Still, Apex's TJ Evans has begun to figure out his shooting woes of the first half and the offense has allowed the team to keep the deficit to a manageable 9 points going into the 4th quarter.
HALF, Word of God 28 Apex 23 : Word of God High School maintained their 5-point lead through the second quarter and will take it into halftime, as defensive pressure and sloppy Apex shooting has worked in the Holy Rams' favor.
Word of God's Shane Whitfield leads the team with 8 points on 4-5 shooting and has pressured Apex's post offense into missing shots. The Holy Ram defense has forced the Apex Cougars into committing 15 turnovers in one half of basketball.
Apex is shooting 7-14 from the field, but just 3-11 from three-point range. The Cougars' typical leader on offense, TJ Evans, has been held to 5 first-half points and is shooting 1-6 from beyond the arc. A late-half three-pointer from Apex's Malik Williams was a bright spot for the team, as well as freshman forward Ian Boyd's game-high 11 points. These highlights for the Cougar offense have kept the team in the game through the first half.
END 1Q, Word of God 14 Apex 9 : The Holy Rams have started off strong against the Apex Cougars in a physical and quick first quarter. The Word of God defense has been stingy so far, giving up just 9 points and forcing Apex into numerous turnovers. Lehigh commit and starting forward Shane Whitfield has established a presence early for the Holy Rams, pulling down rebounds and scoring on an emphatic slam dunk.
PREGAME: In one of the more interesting matchups of the day, the Word of God Holy Rams will face the Apex Cougars in the second game of the Shavlik Randolph Bracket. The winner will square off against Webb High School, coming off an impressive win against Clinton.
The Holy Rams boast an impressive roster filled with experience. Not only has the program appeared in six consecutive Holiday tournaments, but they also have 4 seniors with realistic hopes of playing Division-1 college basketball. Starting guard Josh Newkirk has already committed to Pittsburgh, and starting forward Shane Whitfield will be playing for Lehigh. The team has two other players still evaluating options, but expecting to play at a high level in college.
Contrasting the Holy Rams' experience, Apex has a younger but equally impressive roster led by two starting junior guards, TJ Evans and TJ Wells. Last year, Evans led the team to a conference championship and a 26-4 record, all while winning the Tri-Nine conference player of the year.