In a rematch of last year’s NCISAA 2A State Semifinals, The Burlington School (28-7) would once again host Wayne Country Day (25-7). All season long, these two teams have been at the top of our private school rankings.
The Burlington School knew in order to win this game, they would have to make it very difficult on Wayne Country Day’s Collin Tanner, their top scorer at 22 PPG and 8 RPG. TBS came out face-guarding Tanner from the opening tip and never took their eyes off of him. The player primarily faced with this task: Kobe George. George continues to make the case as one of the best perimeter defenders in the country regardless of class. At 6’3 with really good strength and athleticism, he forces tough catches every single play. Then once you get the ball, he moves his feet extremely well and forces opposing ball handlers to change directions multiple times and eventually into a contested shot. He embraces his role on this side of the ball. Although he’s more than capable of having big games on the offensive side of the ball, he continues to impact the game on the defensive side of the ball.
The difference all game was the defensive pressure from TBS. TBS was able to take a 14-point second quarter lead as Avion Pinner dove on the floor for the steal, was able to give it up to Kheni Briggs who found Michael Nwoko on the other end for the emphatic alley-oop and the foul. TBS was able to maintain a 39-25 lead going into the half.
In the third quarter, Wayne Country Day started to make their run. 2023’s Nayshin Waller and Zane Cogdell were able to get into the paint and make plays at the cup. WCDS was able to cut the deficit to 9 at 45-36 after Carlos Vazquez finished the and-one. Vazquez provided a nice boost in the third quarter with his activity on the glass and willingness to find open teammates.
WCDS was able to turn the 14-point halftime deficit to 7 at 47-40. However, just when it seemed like they were getting back into the game, TBS responded. The Charleston Southern commit, Kheni Briggs, was spectacular during this stretch. As soon as WCDS cut the score to 47-40, Briggs got downhill and finished at the cup. Then on the following defensive possession, Michael Nwoko had a monster block on the defensive end. This block turned into a transition break where Briggs found Nwoko again for the dunk. TBS was back up 51-40.
Nayshin Waller was able to respond with a tough finish through contact on the other end, converting the and-one to make the score 51-43. But once again, Kheni Briggs found a way to answer. This time with a nifty spin move to a jelly finish. TBS was back up 53-43.
In the fourth quarter, TBS regained the momentum and never let up. They went on a tear, scoring 29 fourth quarter points. TBS went on to win 84-56 and will face Trinity Academy on Saturday for the NCISAA 2A State Championship.
The Burlington School 84
Kheni Briggs – 20 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals
Kendrell Brooks – 14 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 steal
Michael Nwoko – 13 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal
Shane Peterson – 12 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals
Amare Miller – 11 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals
Avion Pinner – 7 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block 2 steals
Josh Randolph – 3 points
Kobe George – 2 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal
Zion Walker – 2 points, 1 rebound, 4 assists
Wayne Country Day 56
Collin Tanner – 11 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist
Jordan Cooper – 10 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal
Nayshin Waller – 10 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal
Zane Cogdell – 9 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals
Carlos Vazquez – 9 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal
Kaleb Coles – 6 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block, 2 steals
Kyhiem Jones – 1 point
6’4 2022 Kheni Briggs (TBS) (Charleston Southern)
Every single time I’ve seen Briggs this season with TBS, he has been great. He has made tremendous strides, especially on the defensive side of the ball. For a committed senior, it would be easy for a player to complain about coming off the bench, but Briggs has embraced that role and excelled on both ends of the floor. Offensively, he has always been able to get downhill and finish through contact as good as anyone. His perimeter jumper is looking really good as well this year. But last night, he was a force creating off the bounce and making plays at the rim. In the third quarter when WCDS made their run, Briggs always responded. Briggs finished with a game-high 20 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals.
6’3 2022 Kendrell Brooks (TBS)
Unsigned senior, Kendrell Brooks, provided a huge spark off the bench for the Spartans in their semifinal win. Brooks finished with 14 points (11 of which came in the second half), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block and 1 steal. The lefty has a smooth shooting release. He showcased his ability to knock down the perimeter shot, converting on two three-point attempts. In addition, he was able to utilize his length and quick first step to attack the basket. More importantly, he was equally if not more effective on the defensive end. He was extremely active on the perimeter pressuring the opposing team’s ball handlers. And at the guard position, he did a tremendous job of helping to clean up the defensive glass, getting first-time rebounds. Brooks is a player who is more than deserving on more college interest and has the capability of playing at the next level.
6’6 2022 Amare Miller (TBS)
Amare Miller once again provided a tough, physical presence for TBS. He utilized his strength and physicality to score in the post and attack the offensive glass, creating second chance scoring opportunities for himself and teammates. Miller had a monster offensive rebound, came down, drop stepped and powered through the defenders, and went up and nearly ripped the rim off with a two-hand dunk. He also showcased his nice touch in the midrange with a nice high post catch versus the zone, drove down the middle of the lane for a soft floater. Miller finished with 11 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals.
6’4 2023 Nayshin Waller (Wayne Country Day)
Nayshin Waller showcased his ability to really finish well at the end of drives. He has a extremely quick first step and can explosively finish at the end of drives where he embraces and finishes through contact. In addition, he has a knack for drawing fouls at the end of drives where he is able to convert at a high rate from the foul line. Waller finishes a great junior campaign in which he averaged 12 PPG, 5 RPG, and 1.5 APG.
6’0 2023 Zane Cogdell (Wayne Country Day)
The junior guard was also key in Wayne Country Day’s comeback efforts. He provided a spark on both ends of the floor. He is a quick, shifty guard who is able to create off the bounce and make plays for himself and others. He has a quick first step and is able to get downhill where he doesn’t shy away from contact. He finds ways to finish against taller defenders and showcased nice touch on his floaters. In addition, he is able to knock down the perimeter shot consistently. Cogdell finished with 9 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 steals.