On Friday night, Phenom Hoops traveled to the heart of Greensboro, North Carolina for a much-anticipated battle between the Northwest Guilford Vikings and the hosting Grimsley Whirlies. Coming into this contest, many would consider Grimsley the underdog due to losing their last two head-to-head meetings against Northwest. That being said, the Whirlies clearly stepped on the floor with something to prove.
Things got going in a hurry, as Grimsley quickly broke apart and established their grasp on the overall momentum of this game. It was a combination of quality defense for Grimsley and shaky offense for Northwest that led to an early double-digit deficit in favor of the Whirlies. They led 18-8 after the first quarter and showed no interest in turning back. For the Vikings, Dean Reiber was in early foul trouble, Christian Hampton wasn’t his usual dominant self, and things only trickled down from there. Meanwhile, Grimsley was finding an abundance of success, particularly through Daniel Cooper and their overall transition play. Between Cooper, Ahmil Flowers, and Travis Shaw (especially with Reiber sidelined), the glass was largely controlled by Grimsley and left no real margin for Northwest to regain their footing. The Whirlies were firmly in the driver’s seat going into halftime, which is where it happened…the broken backboard that was heard around the country via Hampton’s windmill dunk attempt. With the score at 35-24, the game was postponed until the following evening at Dudley.
In resuming the action, Northwest came out with a quick burst but could never put together anything strong enough to take over the lead. Grimsley played as if the game never was postponed and kept their foot on the gas until the final buzzer. It might be remembered for a broken backboard, but Grimsley’s 75-60 victory over Northwest Guilford is far more significant entering the playoffs.
6’3 ’21 Daniel Cooper
It should come as no surprise, but Cooper was clearly the most valuable player for either team during this contest and it wasn’t really close. His game is predicated on hustle, motor, and being unselfish, and that’s extremely evident in watching him perform. Cooper runs the floor as well as anyone in the state, which puts him in an excellent position to finish around the rim with consistency. He simply has a nose for the ball, especially as a rebounder, and secures his fair share of two-way rebounds and second-chance opportunities. Cooper is smart and always looking to make the best available play but his passing was truly on another level throughout this contest. He plays a simple but undeniably effective game and naturally finds production without ever needing to force the action. It’s showings like this that could begin to entice college coaches. Final stats: 25 points, 10 points, and 6 assists.
6’5 ’20 Ahmil Flowers
The HPU signee continues to be the primary leader for this group but also understands how to defer when necessary. There were times when he tried to generate something out of nothing but largely worked to get his teammates involved and only score as needed. Flowers does everything at an above-average rate on both ends of the floor and showcased his versatility quite well throughout this contest. He possesses a somewhat quiet demeanor but consistently does the dirty work, fighting on the glass, making the extra pass, and doing anything possible to secure extra opportunities for his team. Flowers name is somewhat of a double entendre, as it represents his family name while also being indicative of his blossoming abilities as a basketball talent. Final stats: 15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal.
6’5 ’22 Travis Shaw
Already a top-tier football talent, Shaw has been nothing short of impressive with his on-court abilities throughout the season. He’s much more nimble and skilled than people seem to think. Shaw is a legit low-post monster that could probably score every single possession if he weren’t so strong that it makes flops look believable. However, he has a high IQ and it’s especially clear with his passing—both out of the post and in the open floor. Shaw has incredible hands and absolutely dominates the glass on a nightly basis, basically able to corral any miss within his vicinity. He didn’t need to score to be a major impact player and will continue being one of the most enjoyable athletes to watch in the Triad. Final stats: 1 point, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists.
6’0 ’20 Ronan Martinek-Jenne
Although he’s had multiple quality showings this season, one could legitimately argue that this performance from Martinek-Jenne was more significant than all the rest. He typically plays the glue-guy role and fills in the gaps as needed, but really made a difference with his timely three-point shooting. After the delay, Martinek-Jenne hit four massive three-pointers in the second half to put this contest out of reach. Final stats: 19 points (five three-pointers)
6’1 ’20 Christian Hampton
There are certain players that simply possess that “it” factor, and Hampton is firmly at the top of the list. Although he’s known for his ridiculous explosiveness, it should be noted that Hampton is an incredible leader, game-changing defender, and all-around offensive threat. Over the last calendar year, he’s basically shored up any question marks surrounding his game but has still remained one of the most humble, hungry, and determined prospects within North Carolina. It’s easy to say that Hampton is underrated but it seems that everyone understands his unmistakable talent, which still makes him overlooked by the masses. At this point, Hampton should hold ten to fifteen Division I offers. Unfortunately, he’ll need to keep proving himself as a special type of player in order to get the proper respect from college coaches. Final stats: 20 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 steals.
Other Noteworthy Contributors:
6’3 ’20 Robbie Boulton- 10 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals
6’3 ’20 Brandon Thomas- 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists
5’11 ’22 Jackson Hartzell- 9 points (three three-pointers)