By Rick Lewis
Northside Christian Academy 67 Wesleyan Christian Academy 57
Two of the top basketball powers in the NCISAA met in an early season matchup on the campus of Northside Christian Academy last night. Northside has won back-to-back championships in the NCISAA 2A division while Wesleyan Christian Academy won the NCISAA 3A division last year. Seven of the ten starters for both teams have already signed D1 scholarships. Theo Pinson (UNC) JaQuel Richmond (Houston) Donovan Gilmore (College of Charleston) Desean Murray (Presbyterian) Davon Bell (Presbyterian) James Demery (St. Joseph) and Keyshawn Woods (Charlotte) Northside Christian came out on top and won in a wider margin than most people expected. The final score was Northside Christian 67 Wesleyan Christian Academy 57. Offensively, it was the 1-2 scoring duo of 6’5 Keyshawn Woods 22 points and 6’6 James Demery 17 points that did approximately 60% of the scoring damage for Northside. For Wesleyan, it was 6’5 Theo Pinson with 21 while 6’6 Donovan Gilmore chipped in 14 points.
However, the main story line was the team defense displayed by Coach Bryon Dinkins Northside Christian team. 5’9 senior guard Jeremy Ritter and 5’11 senior Davon Bell put constant pressure on Wesleyan guards and basically stop dribble penetration by JaQuel Richmond, who is a handful in transition and in the half court. In addition, 6’6 James Demery did an outstanding job of defending UNC signee Theo Pinson. Demery has the length and strength to go “toe to toe” with Pinson.
With 3:30 remaining in the first half, Wesleyan Christian led 23-18 and looked in control of the game, mostly due to Northside struggling to find the range on their perimeter shooting. Coach Bryon Dinkins called a timeout and his team responded with a 12-0 to take a 30-23 half time lead. To put it bluntly, not many teams can hold Wesleyan Christian to 23 half time points! Northside Christian expanded the lead to 48-34 at the end of the third quarter and the game was basically over at that point in time.
“Keys to the Game”
• Northside Christian constant pressure defense. They denied the outlet pass to Richmond, which delayed their fast break or transition points.
• Northside Christian team defense and weak side help. While Northside Christian defenders did an excellent job of stopping penetration, however when Wesleyan players did beat their man, Northside rotated nicely and had someone in position to take a charge or stop further penetration.
• Northside Christian motion offense! Northside has many offensive weapons, but they are one difficult team to guard/defend. Their points do not come off one on one dribble penetration but by constant team movement. They simply make the defensive team work and work hard. They set good screens and got open looks by cutting to the basket.
6’5 Senior Keyshawn Woods (Charlotte signee)
After watching Woods the first thing that came to my mind was “we blew it” on ranking him number 15 in the PHR NC 2014 ranking. He is much better than that. Woods finished with 22 points knocking down three timely 3-pointers. While his shot is not “textbook,” it does go in and he has shown a consistency in his shooting technique. The old saying, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” applied to Woods. Woods is long and active and has a solid understanding of the game. He played with poise and the chemistry between he and Demery is impressive.
6’6 Senior James Demery (St. Joseph signee)
At the NBA Player’s Camp this past summer, Demery was one of the better “on the ball” defenders in the entire camp. He is one of the most humble and well-mannered young men you will come across. Demery finished with 17 points, but it was his overall defensive play on Pinson that was impressive. Yes, Pinson scored only 4 first half points and finished with 21 points which is normally a “good day at the office,” but it was a very “hard earned” 21 points. Demery is excellent in transition and has outstanding body control.
6’5 Senior Theo Pinson (UNC signee)
Pinson finished with 21 points, but it was a day when many shots just wouldn’t fall especially in the first half. That being said, he had a strong second half and scored half of Wesleyan second half points. Pinson made some impressive moves off the dribble and knocked down two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to illustrate why is he one of the nation’s elite level players.
6’6 Senior Donovan Gilmore (College of Charleston signee)
Gilmore finished with a double-double once again with points and rebounds. He had 14 points with the majority of them coming off offensive rebound opportunities. Gilmore has great anticipation on missed shots and is always near the ball. He is an active player and plays with a high motor.
“The Supporting Cast”
5’11 senior Guard Davon Bell finished with 9 points, 6’5 Senior Desean Murray 7 points, 5’9 senior Jeremy Ritter 5 points, 6’5 Junior Rayjon Tucker 4 points, and 6’2 Sophomore Ray Kowalski 3 points.
“Quotes from the Game”
Assistant Coach Jeff McInnis:
“It all started with our defense. We wanted to contain their dribble penetration and when they did, we wanted to have a help side defender in place to take the charge. We wanted to stop their transition game and for the most part, we did exactly that.”
6’5 Keyshawn Woods:
“It was a big battle and we wanted to play our game which is hard defense. We can score in transition but if we don’t we can score in the half court set.”
6’6 James Demery:
“I’m so excited for the team. Hard work pays off. We love to play hard-nosed defense and I look forward to guarding Theo. Being able to compete is what it is all about.”