On Friday night, Phenom Hoops traveled out to Calvary Day School in the heart of Winston-Salem, North Carolina for some quality high school basketball competition between the Cougars and the Hickory Grove Lions. Though the hosting Cougars were still hunting for their first win, it’s not for a lack of talent within their roster. On the other side, Hickory Grove entered this contest with a 2-2 record and have already shown the ability to compete with various types of opponents during the current season. The stage was set for a quality showdown, and that’s exactly what we received. 

Things started off in clear favor of Calvary Day; they were rebounding, getting stops and forcing turnovers defensively, and highlighting a balanced offensive attack. The group of James Wilkins, Zech Gibson, Donovan Robinson, Owen Gulledge, and Bryson Burton largely carried the load throughout the first half, leading to a 19-13 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 27-23 lead entering halftime. Meanwhile, Hickory Grove simply struggled to find contributions outside of DJ Cuttino and Chas Sinson. The duo did everything possible to keep the Lions afloat and just within fighting distance. Despite foul trouble to Francesco Rodella, the Cougars maintained their lead for majority of the third quarter. However, things quickly turned as these two teams entered the final period. It seemed like everything began going positively for Hickory Grove and negatively for Calvary Day down the stretch. Though things came down to a Calvary Day attempt at the final buzzer, Hickory Grove claimed a 48-47 victory.

Hickory Grove:

6’3 ’21 Chas Stinson 

After entering this contest as the Lions’ most productive scoring option, Stinson was easily one of the best players on either team throughout this showing. He exploited straight line-drive opportunities, drew fouls, and finished around the basket whenever possible, but also regularly asserted himself as a perimeter shooter. Stinson utilized his length and anticipation extremely well to force on-ball turnovers, push transition play, and make smart decisions with the ball in his hands. Although his offensive showing was noteworthy, his toughness and instincts defensively were equally as impressive. Stinson showed the makings of a useful next-level player. Final stats: 17 points, 7 rebounds, 6 steals, and 2 blocks. 

6’1 ’22 DJ Cuttino

While Stinson was arguably their most productive player, Cuttino should certainly be regarded as their most consistent performer from start to finish. He simply provided a smart, steady, tough two-way presence with an efficient scoring sense from anywhere within the arc. Cuttino touched the paint with ease, hit pull-up jumpers, and rebounded very well for his size. He stood out as a leader on both ends of the floor and truly rose to the occasion when his primary running mate went down with an injury in the midst of crunch time. There were times when Cuttino was the best player on the floor, and college coaches should continue to take notice. Final stats: 23 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 block.

Calvary Day:

6’6 ’21 Zech Gibson

Although Calvary Day highlighted a very balanced offensive approach, Gibson stood out as a main leader on both ends of the floor. He battled on the glass, utilized his length effectively to alter shots and intercept passing lanes, and scored in various different ways. Gibson ran the floor hard in transition, finished with either hand, and should only continue to attract college coaches with physical maturity. Final stats: 13 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block.

6’0 ’22 Donovan Robinson

Despite not dominating as a scorer, Robinson was easily one of the better leaders for this group. He consistently set up the offense, worked to create for others, made smart decisions, and did the dirty work whenever necessary. Robinson rebounded the ball very well for his size/position, pushed transition play with regularity, and defended his assignment nicely. He’s still one of the newer additions to this roster, but it’s easy to envision Robinson at the next level. Final stats: 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists.