On Saturday afternoon, Phenom Hoops traveled to Lincolnton to watch Combine Academy take on The Burlington School. TBS was facing a nationally ranked Combine Academy for their second game in two days after getting a close road win Friday night at South Granville.

The first half was a defensive battle. Both teams were doing a really good job of pressuring the ball and forcing turnovers. Robert Dillingham knocked down a baseline pull-up jumper to start the game. Combine jumped out to a 6-0 lead to start the game and seemed to be in control, but TBS wasn’t out of it. Combine held 13-10 lead at the end of the 1st quarter.

In the second quarter, the game stayed even with both teams trading baskets. Shane Peterson found Jamarii Thomas on the baseline drift for the corner three. On the very next possession, Robert Dillingham split the ball screen and finished at the basket drawing the and-one. With the score at 23-20, TBS had a three-point shot to tie it before halftime, but Combine’s Omarion Bodrick made an incredible hustle play to block the shot helping Combine maintain the lead.

In the third quarter, Combine began to take control of the game. Their pressure on the defensive end allowed for them to turn that defense into offense. Just as the game started Combine jumped out to a 6-0 run. Antonio Hamlin drove and found Jacori Owens on the drop off for the layup. On the defensive end, Omarion Bodrick blocked a shot at the rim, AJ Smith grabbed the rebound and went coast-to-coast for the layup. Then on the next possession, AJ Smith grabbed the rebound and went coast-to-coast again, missed the layup, but Omarion Bodrick was right there to chase it down for the tip-in. The third quarter ended with Combine in the lead 44-32.

The impressive thing about this Combine team is that everyone gets in on the action. Early in the fourth quarter, Patrick Wessler caught the ball on the left block with his back to the basket. He dribbled middle and made a counter move back to the baseline and knocked down the left-handed hook shot over his right shoulder off the glass. Then a few possessions later, Wessler blocked a shot on the defensive end.

Another play that really stuck out to me later in the fourth that exemplifies how Combine turns defense to offense was this: TBS drove the ball and Robert Dillingham stunted in the gap, knocking the ball loose. Kennard Davis picks up the loose ball and immediately looks up the court and makes the ball ahead pass to Dillingham for the three.

Combine continued this level of play throughout the fourth quarter and came away with the 65-49 win.

Let’s take a look at some of the game’s storylines:

Robert Dillingham: More Than Just a Scorer

We all know Dillingham to be one of the most electric players in the country. The sophomore holds an offer from UNC and it’s easy to see why. He is extremely talented and scores the ball at a high level. He makes difficult shots seem easy. But what was most impressive about his game on Saturday was his ability to impact the game on both sides of the ball and in more ways than just scoring. Defensively, he is really buying in on that side of the floor by rebounding the ball, forcing turnovers, and getting in a stance and really guarding. Offensively, he was getting others involved and finding the open man. He finished with 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 steals.

Kennard Davis: An Excellent On-Ball Defender

2023 Kennard Davis is back for Combine. His presence is felt the minute he steps on the court. He is arguably one of the best on-ball defenders in the state, regardless of class. He isn’t the tallest guy on the court, but he is tough, strong, and quick. He does an outstanding job of moving his feet and playing without fouling. Often times you’ll see defenders stick their forearms on the ball handler, but not Davis. He keeps his arms out wide and uses his chest when ball handlers initiate contact. He can pick up the ball 94-feet away from the basket and turn the ball handler multiple times coming up the court, making it difficult for them to initiate the offense. On the offensive end, he can knock down the perimeter shot and he does a good job of creating off the bounce and finding open teammates, whether on drop-offs for layups or kick-outs for threes.

Combine’s Depth: AJ Smith and Patrick Wessler

AJ Smith and Patrick Wessler continue to make their presence felt for Combine. AJ Smith finished the game with 11 points and 6 rebounds. He is so physical when attacking the basket. When he gets going downhill, he is very difficult to keep in front. He finishes as good as anyone when he gets all the way to the rim. In addition, he knocked down a nice turnaround jumper in the midrange. Also, he crashes the glass on the offensive end, creating second chance opportunities for himself and others.

Patrick Wessler continues to showcase his skill and ability to be a high major prospect at the next level. One thing about Combine is that they have several post players who all play quality minutes, so naturally they all sacrifice their own individual statistics for the betterment of the team, which makes them the team they are. Since arriving to Combine, Wessler improved his foot speed, he has leaned up, and put on quality muscle. One thing remains, he is very skilled with his back to the basket. He does a good job of getting deep post position. Once he receives the ball, if he is able to turn over his right shoulder and get to his left hook, then it’s tough to stop. I mentioned it earlier, but he made a beautiful counter move in the fourth quarter. He caught the ball on the left block with his back to the basket, took a dribble to the midline, and made the counter back to the baseline where he finished with the left-hook off the glass showcasing his soft touch. He finished with 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 block, which was a very efficient and productive game for the big man considering the number of minutes that he and his fellow post players play together while rotating in and out for one another.

The Burlington School’s Role Players: Shane Peterson and Kobe George

Shane Peterson and Kobe George followed up on Saturday with really good performances after playing great the night before at South Granville. Shane Peterson does so many things that lead to winning. He makes shots. He defends. He rebounds. He finds the open man. Once again, he continued to make plays when his team needed it. Peterson finished with 12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal.

In addition, freshman Kobe George continues to make his presence felt. He finished the game with 10 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal. He led both teams in rebounding. I can’t stress this enough how valuable that is for his team, especially against a team like Combine which crashes the glass hard every single time. Offensively, he attacked the basket strong. He does a good job of finishing high and isn’t afraid of contact. He got to the line, where he shot 8-10 on the game. He will continue to be a big piece of this TBS team moving forward.

Combine Academy
Robert Dillingham – 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals
AJ Smith – 11 points, 6 rebounds
Omarion Bodrick – 8 points, 2 rebounds, 3 blocks
Patrick Wessler – 6 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block
Kennard Davis – 5 points, 2 assists, 2 steals
Kris Robinson – 5 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound
Michael Dudley – 3 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds
Bryce Alfino – 3 points
Mekhi Grant – 2 points, 1 rebound

The Burlington School
Shane Peterson – 12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal
Kuluel Mading – 10 points, 6 rebounds, 6 blocks, 1 steal
Kobe George – 10 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
Jamarii Thomas – 9 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal
Isaiah Escobar – 3 points, 1 assist, 2 steals
Zion Walker – 3 points, 1 rebound
Ryan Roberts – 2 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal