On Monday, Phenom Hoops traveled out to Bishop McGuinness in Kernersville, North Carolina, as the Villains prepared to host the Eagles of East Forsyth. Both teams entered this contest with quality records against tough competition, which set the stage for an absolute battle. Bishop McGuinness has talent, coaching, and always seem to be relevant within the bigger picture of North Carolina high school basketball. Meanwhile, East Forsyth is undergoing somewhat of a transition from recent struggles to an entirely different era under their new coach-point guard duo in Monty and William Gray (who double as father and son).

Although the Eagles were without one of their captains, Jalen Thorns, it didn’t seem to prevent them from jumping out to an early 10-2 lead. However, the Villains immediately countered with a 13-3 run of their own and regained the lead—but ultimately trailed 18-15 through eight minutes of play. The second quarter offered more of the same, as things remained competitive but the Eagles maintained their distance on the scoreboard and entered halftime with a 42-33 advantage over Bishop McGuinness. Following the break, the dogfight ensued and it became somewhat of a back-and-forth battle. Defensive pressure, both in the full and half court, proved to be a massive factor for both squads. Despite closing the gap, the Villains still trailed 54-50 entering the final quarter of play. After holding the lead for majority of this contest, the Eagles tried to hold the ball for as long as possible and only take advantage of guaranteed scoring opportunities. This backfired and actually allowed the Villains to put themselves in a winning position, getting two separate looks at tough go-ahead shots in the final seconds, before narrowly falling 66-65 to East Forsyth. 

East Forsyth: 

6’1 ’23 Will Gray

It’s easy to get excited about the current abilities and long-term potential with someone like Gray, who is already an exceptional leader and floor general. He’s very smart and instinctual, which might be the most evident on the defensive end of the floor—where his anticipation and ability to accumulate deflections is sharp to a rare degree. That being said, Gray is an extremely poised, patient point guard with a quick first step and incredible navigation skills through traffic. He regularly sees two or three defenders thrown in his direction yet still finds ways to make intelligent decisions and impressive reads. Gray is a quality all-around athlete with the ability to mirror his assignment defensively while regularly meeting opponents at the rim for dunks and blocks. He touches the paint whenever he wants, unselfishly looks to make the right play, scores within the flow of the action, and already stands out as one of the better defenders in the Class of 2023. Expect him to start generating a lot of buzz over the next calendar year, as he already would be an asset for a variety of programs at the next level. Final stats: 13 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals, and 1 block.

6’4 ’22 Xavier Isaac

Someone absolutely had to step up for the Eagles to be in contention without Thorns, and Isaac was definitely the guy to do so. He’s a big, sturdy big man prospect who makes up for his lack of height with sheer strength and power. Isaac possesses soft hands and understands how to be patient out of the post, which allowed him to score from either block or on dump-off passes with regularity. He positions himself for success and rebounds the ball at a quality rate on both ends of the floor. Final stats: 22 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals.

Other noteworthy contributors:

5’10 ’21 Jordan Timmons- 4 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal.

6’0 ’23 Matt Joines- 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals.

6’0 ’23 Braxton Stewart-13 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 block.

Bishop McGuinness:

6’6 ’21 Noah Allred

Given the flow of the game, Allred was truly the player who kept things afloat for the Villains throughout the first half. He scored the ball in a strong variety of ways, battling inside, positioning himself for scoring chances, spacing the floor whenever possible, and attacking off the dribble when necessary. Allred’s motor and overall aggression allowed him to naturally make his presence felt on the glass, which also led to numerous assists from outlet passes. He displayed timing and blocked numerous shots as the primary defensive anchor for this group. Allred was slightly quieter in the second half, but his all-around production was still absolutely vital for the Villains. Final stats: 22 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 blocks.

6’4 ’22 Dawson McAlhany

After putting together a productive season as the Villians’ leader, McAlhany continued to shine as the focal point for this group. He’s a quality leader through emotion, communication, and by example, which allows him to corral the team when things go haywire. McAlhany has transitioned from a wiry, downhill scorer to a strong, capable all-around offensive weapon with vision and the ability to score from anywhere on the floor. Prior to the season, shooting was probably his biggest weakness. Now, McAlhany shoots well above-average from the perimeter and forces opponents to respect him as a spot-up threat at all times. The lefty is still smooth when attacking the basket and more than capable of scoring or setting up others in the correct position. He’s also a quality athlete with IQ and positional size. That along with all the aforementioned positives should have all types of programs in pursuit of McAlhany. Final stats: 24 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal. 

Other noteworthy contributors:

5’10 ’21 Seth Williams- 10 points, 1 rebound, and 1 steal.

5’10 ’21 Nathan Fuller- 5 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals.

6’7 ’21 Thomas Markun- 5 rebounds and 3 assists.