On Tuesday, Phenom Hoops traveled out to Oak Ridge, North Carolina for an inner-city battle between Grimsley and Northwest Guilford. Both teams have found quality success to start their season. Coach Corbett and the Whirlies embrace their healthy mix of basketball players and multi-sport athletes, which translates seamlessly onto the court. Meanwhile, Coach Reavis and the Vikings have consistently been among the Triad’s top teams throughout the last decade. Between the talent, coaching, and overall atmosphere, everyone in the building seemed to expect a high-level showdown—and that’s exactly what we received…

Things kicked off in clear favor of the Vikings. They managed the clock, made stops defensively, and gained some separation through their steady approach. Everything quickly changed in the second quarter. The Whirlies’ rebounding, balanced attack, and ability to force turnovers allowed them to take over with a 26-23 lead going into halftime. Following the break, it was more of the same. Grimsley’s core of six continued piling on points, and only extended their lead in the third quarter. The Vikings entered the final period of play trailing 42-34, and then it became an absolute battle. They would erase the deficit and even take the lead, but it would ultimately come down to the waning seconds. After multiple timeouts and lead changes in the last minute, Northwest tied it up with two free-throws in the final second of regulation—sending it to overtime. Things remained intense in the extra period, as the back-and-forth battle ensued until the very end—where Grimsley secured a 63-61 victory over Northwest Guilford.


6’1 ’22 Tyler Albright

It’s pretty easy to see the impact Albright has with this group, both in terms of production and his actual leadership style on the court. He’s a noted baseball player, but is also incredibly valuable to the Whirlies’ approach—specifically through his toughness and ability to touch the paint at will. Albright is excellent at getting downhill and making plays for himself, but is arguably even better at setting up others in scoring positions. He’s a well-rounded athlete with a strong frame and feel on both ends of the floor. Albright is also scrappy defensively and makes his presence felt on the glass. He would be a college-level basketball player should he have chosen that path. Final stats: 14 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals. 

5’9 ’22 Jordan Wall

While any of the guys for Grimsley could be considered an x-factor, Wall was arguably the main one for this contest. He made extremely important plays in such a timely, almost intentional manner. When a rebound was needed, Wall would soar above everyone else and get it. He’s a heady guard who prefers to get downhill and attack the basket, but also plays bigger than his size and makes a major difference on the glass. Wall finishes well, both with finesse or through contact, and knows how to simply capitalize on his opportunities. Final stats: 18 points and 8 rebounds. 

6’3 ’24 Alex Taylor

In terms of sheer value, especially for this specific contest, Taylor continually proved himself as vital as anyone on the court. He’s the type of player that every team can utilize, as he’s simply a gamer with IQ, athleticism, toughness, and a competitive streak. Taylor displays a fairly well-rounded skillset and approach, and looks to make the right play with the ball in his hands. He plays with a high motor and highlights a willingness to do the little things on both ends of the floor. Final stats: 8 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. 

Other Noteworthy Contributors:

6’5 ’25 Zacch Wiggins- 8 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks

6’2 ’22 Jayden Watlington- 8 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, 1 block

6’4 ’23 Nick Elliott- 7 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks

Northwest Guilford:

6’0 ’22 Connor Ballou

The Bridgewater commit continues to shine as a steady, balanced, productive floor general for this group. Ballou has done a great job of transitioning from a scoring guard to a point guard with scoring capabilities over the years, which was evident throughout this contest. He’s calm, unselfish, and efficient, primarily looking to initiate the offense while applying scoring pressure without forcing the action. Ballou was the driving force that kept the Vikings in the game early-on, and then reestablished himself in crunch time. He’s a quality shooter, passer, and overall player who should be a great piece at the next level. Final stats: 19 points (6-7 FG), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal.

6’4 ’24 Jaylen Cross

There are a ton of talented, high-level prospects within North Carolina’s Class of 2024, and Cross is certainly among the top. Despite some ups and downs, it’s so easy to see the tools, talent, and overall long-term appeal. Cross is already able to consistently generate shots and affect all facets of the game. The ability is clear, but he can truly be special. Cross’ blend of IQ, size, defensive instincts, and downhill ability provide him with all the necessary attributes to eventually be the top player in the area. Expect him to continue progressing over the foreseeable future. Final stats: 18 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals. 

Other Noteworthy Contributors:

5’10 ’22 Jackson Hartzell- 6 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist

6’5 ’23 Wyatt Harbaugh- 4 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block

6’4 ’22 Drew Watkins- 2 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks, 1 steal

6’4 ’23 Sheldon Ulmer- 6 points, 2 rebounds