On Saturday, Phenom Hoops traveled out to the heart of Greensboro for a high-level playoff matchup between the Whirlies of Grimsley and the Cougars of JL Chambers. There was a ton of excitement in the air. On one side, Chambers probably entered this contest slightly underrated based on their seeding (considering they arguably played the most challenging schedule of any public-school team in the state). Meanwhile, Coach Darren Corbett and the Whirlies had already undoubtedly made their claim as the top team in the area for the first time in quite a while. Regardless, the stage was set for an absolute battle, and that’s exactly what we got…
The intense atmosphere was nearly tangible upon entering the doors at Whirlie nation. Both sides were packed with all types of spectators. The Cougars’ support traveled in massive totals and basically matched the hosting fans—both in terms of quantity and overall energy. Things kicked off very sluggishly, as both teams struggled to get things going on offense for the first few minutes. About halfway through the opening quarter, the two squads started trading buckets. The Whirlies led 10-8 after the first eight minutes. After both teams shook off the jitters, it quickly became a back-and-forth scoring affair. The Whirlies’ ability to play slow combined with a lack of turnovers really caused problems for the approach of their opponent. This allowed Grimsley to hold a 26-23 advantage at halftime. Following the break, Chambers began to show resiliency and resumed trading the lead throughout the quarter. They entered the fourth period with a narrow 35-33 lead. The final quarter still remained incredibly close through the final stretch. Although the ten-point margin seems like a comfortable win, the Cougars narrowly escaped the Whirlies by a score of 59-49.
6’2 ’23 Jaylen Curry
While various guys could be considered Chambers’ most valuable player from this showing, Curry probably has to be the choice. It was somewhat of a pedestrian first half by his standards, but he was arguably the best player on the floor throughout crunch time. He touched the paint, made quality reads, and capitalized on seemingly every possible transition opportunity available. Curry made a lot of timely plays, including a game-altering steal to shift the momentum late in the game. Final stats: 14 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals.
6’4 ’22 Antoine Piper
Pretty much every team can utilize someone like Piper, who really understands how to thrive within a role on both ends of the floor. He’s a strong, unselfish, blue-collar guy with a high motor and willingness to consistently do the dirty work. Piper is a physical athlete with a sturdy frame, defensive prowess, and a strong rebounding presence. His complementary game allows him to produce within the flow of the action. Final stats: 13 points and 3 rebounds.
6’7 ’24 Maurio Hanson
It felt like Hanson was poised for a dominant showing early on, simply because no one could contain him around the basket. He consistently got position, made decisive moves, and finished around or through contact. Hanson capitalized on his minutes and opportunities when available. He will absolutely be the future of this program. Final stats: 11 points and 3 rebounds.
Other Noteworthy Contributors:
6’7 ’22 Daniel Sanford- 10 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks
6’1 ’22 Kendall Smith- 4 points, 2 steals, 1 block
6’2 ’24 Alex Taylor
The notable football star was quite possibly the biggest x-factor for the Whirlies in this contest. For starters, he’s the type of guy who could compete in a game of badminton—simply due to his tough, unselfish, gamer-like nature as a sheer competitor. That being said, Taylor possesses plenty of feel on the basketball court. His ability to just make plays within the confides of the team structure only further solidifies his value to this group. He’s a smart, athletic wing with a steady, fairly well-rounded game. Final stats: 11 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals.
6’0 ’22 Tyler Albright
While Albright is another guy who carries status within a different sport, it’s clear to see the basketball ability as a leader for this squad. He fits into whatever role is needed. Albright will touch the paint and set up others as a primary creator or find openings and seams to subtly cause havoc. He’s a heady guard with vision, toughness, and excellent feel with or without the ball in his hands. Final stats: 12 points and 3 rebounds.
Other Noteworthy Contributors:
6’2 ’22 Jayden Watlington- 11 points, 3 assists
5’10 ’22 Jordan Wall- 6 points, 3 rebounds
6’5 ’25 Zacch Wiggins- 8 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block