On Wednesday night, Phenom Hoops traveled to Concord to watch Cox Mill take on AL Brown. Cox Mill won the previous meeting just four days earlier at AL Brown 64-62, so one would expect this game to be close as well.

The 1st quarter started with AL Brown’s Kheni Briggs knocking down a jab step three-pointer on the very first play. AL Brown took control of the game from the start with their hot shooting and pressure defense. Kheni Briggs and Koby Scott both knocked down two three-pointers a piece in the opening quarter. Koby Scott scored all 10 of his points in the first. And I mentioned their pressure defense, AL Brown came up with four steals and forced several other turnovers. AL Brown was in front and held a 19-10 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

The second quarter started just like the first, with Kheni Briggs stealing the ball on the opening play and finishing on the other end with a dunk. Briggs and CJ Wilson continued to make plays on the offensive end for AL Brown. Wilson was getting into the lane and finding the open man. With this being said, Cox Mill began to settle down on the offensive end of the floor. Cox Mill’s Jaylen Hamilton provided a valuable post presence. He was attacking the glass, creating second chance opportunities, and finishing through contact. He scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half. But it wasn’t just Hamilton, a total of seven Cox Mill players scored in the second quarter as they began to chip away at the AL Brown lead. AL Brown was able to hold onto their lead going into halftime with a score of 38-33.

Again to open the third quarter, we saw AL Brown score on their first possession. Kheni Briggs drove it along the right baseline and made a beautiful one-handed skip pass with his right/off hand to the top of the key to Bryson Chajon for the long two-pointer at the top of the key. But Cox Mill wasn’t out of it just yet. Chris Hunter, the senior point guard, began to take control of the game for Cox Mill. On the following possession, he jab stepped left then went right for the midrange pull-up. Kheni Briggs then drills another three-pointer for AL Brown. But Chris Hunter responds with the steal for Cox Mill and finishes with the and-one on the other end. Both teams trading basket for basket with players making great plays. AL Brown’s Kheni Briggs and Cox Mill’s Chris Hunter were putting on a show in the third quarter. Briggs scored 10 of his 30 points, while Hunter also scored 10 of his 26 points in the third quarter.

After a Kheni Briggs put-back to extend the AL Brown lead to 54-45 just seconds before the end of the half, Chris Hunter buried a pull-up three-pointer on the buzzer to cut back into the AL Brown lead of 54-48 heading into the fourth.

Cox Mill carried this momentum into the fourth quarter as they started on a 5-0 run. Chris Hunter stole the ball then found Noah McClanahan on the backdoor for the finish and the foul, connecting on the free throw to cut the deficit to one. Teddy Russell answered on the other end for AL Brown to extend the lead back to three at 56-53.

Once again, Cox Mill goes on a 4-0 run to take their first lead of the ball game. Chris Hunter found Zach Riddle for the basket. Then Noah McClanahan stole the ball and finished with a dunk on the other end to take the lead for Cox Mill at 57-56.

But AL Brown responded. Koby Scott came up with the steal and found CJ Wilson ahead for the transition layup to regain the lead at 58-57 for AL Brown.

Then Chris Hunter got into the lane and made a beautiful drop-off pass to Isaiah Nelson as Cox Mill regained the lead at 59-58.

But once again, Kheni Briggs answered with a baseline pull-up jumper to take back the lead for AL Brown at 60-59.

This was exciting. Each team trading basket for basket. Cox Mill continued their pressure defense. They came up with the steal under their own basket in the press and found Chris Hunter for the easy layup. Cox Mill was now back in the lead at 61-60.

After this, Cox Mill started to execute and get open looks on the offensive end. Their ball movement as a team allowed them to get open looks and layups to help them take control of the game late in the fourth quarter. One play that really stuck out to me was on a drive, Cox Mill found Jaylen Hamilton in the middle of the lane, who then made a beautiful touch pass to Chris Hunter for the layup to extend the lead to 66-62.

The ball movement down the stretch and the pressure on the defensive end for Cox Mill was what helped them come away with a 70-65 win in a tough fought battle. During the fourth quarter, Cox Mill came up with four steals and I mentioned their ball movement; they had seven assists as a team in the fourth quarter. That’s a great recipe for winning basketball.

Final Stats – Cox Mill
Chris Hunter – 26P, 6R, 5A, 5S
Jaylen Hamilton – 12P, 4R, 1A
Noah McClanahan – 9P, 3A, 3R, 1S
John Anthony Baker – 8P, 3R, 1A, 2S
Zach Riddle – 8P, 3R, 1A
Rasheed Baldwin – 8P, 1R, 1A
Isaiah Nelson – 6P, 2A, 1R
Kendall Harris – 4S, 1R, 1A

Final Stats – Kannapolis AL Brown
Kheni Briggs – 30P, 8R, 2A, 4S
Koby Scott – 10P, 3R, 1A, 3S
CJ Wilson – 8P, 7A, 3R
Teddy Russell – 8P, 5R, 4S
Bryson Chajon – 7P, 1R, 1S
Ja’Lan Chambers – 5P, 1B
Isaiah Black – 2P, 1A, 1R

Let’s take a look at some of the game’s standouts from each team:

Chris Hunter 6’0 2021 (Cox Mill)

Chris Hunter was exceptional in the win for Cox Mill. He impacted the game on both sides of the ball finishing with 26 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals. Hunter is a tough, strong, quick lefty-handed point guard who excels getting to the basket. He has a quick first step and can get by defenders and make plays at the rim, whether finishing himself of finding open teammates for drop-offs or kick-outs. He took control of the game in the second half, scoring 20 of his 26 points, and coming away with 4 of his 5 assists, 4 of his 6 rebounds, and 4 of his 5 steals during the second half. He also showed the ability to knock down the midrange pull-up jumper, and once he got going, he connected on two three-pointers. Most impressive was his poise and playmaking ability down the stretch. He took care of the basketball and found open teammates for baskets late in the fourth quarter.

Kheni Briggs 6’3 2022 (AL Brown)

Briggs made his presence felt from start to finish. He finished the game with 30 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 steals. Briggs is a strong, physical lead guard who does a great job of creating off the bounce and finishing through contact at the basket. He has continued to improve his perimeter shooting. He knocked down five three-pointers on the night, showcasing his ability to make them off the catch and the bounce. When he is knocking down shots, he is very tough to contain. This opens up his abilities to get into the lane to make plays. He is a very unselfish player who will make plays for others. The one-handed skip pass he made with his off-hand driving along the right baseline to the shooter at the top of the key is a next level read and pass. Briggs has a bright future ahead of him.

Jaylen Hamilton 6’3 2021 (Cox Mill)

Although undersized at the post position, Hamilton made his presence felt and was a big piece of Cox Mill’s success in last night’s game. He finished with 12 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist. He is a strong, physical player who did a great job of finishing through contact. He would catch the ball with several defenders crowding around him, swiping at the ball, and he would find a way to power up through the contact and finish. In addition, he attacked the offensive glass hard, creating second chance scoring opportunities for himself and others.

CJ Wilson 5’11 2022 (AL Brown)

CJ Wilson played a really good game at the point guard position for AL Brown. He did a great job of creating and finding the open man, finishing with 7 assists to go along with 8 points and 3 rebounds. Wilson continually got into the paint where he would kick out to open shooters along the perimeter. In addition, he was able to get downhill and finish at the rim.

The Balanced Attack of Cox Mill

Cox Mill had five players scoring at least six points or more. Noah Mclanahan finished with 9 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and 1 steal. John Anthony Baker finished with 8 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals. Zach Riddle added another 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 assist. Rasheed Baldwin with another 8 points, 1 rebound, and 1 assist. Also, Isaiah Nelson chipped in with 6 points, 2 assists, and 1 rebound. All of these guys stepped up in major ways throughout the game and especially down the stretch, whether it was a timely basket, rebound, assist or steal. Look for Cox Mill to make a run come playoff time especially when they have everyone involved in the game and making plays for one another.

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