On Saturday, Phenom Hoops returned to The Burlington School for another highly anticipated playoff matchup between the Spartans and Northwood Temple for the 2A NCISAA state championship. As we mentioned in our preview article, this rematch from last year’s title game would be the Spartans chance to get revenge and the Eagles opportunity to become back-to-back champions.
Similar to their semi-final game, The Burlington School came out of the gate in an incredibly intense, energetic mode. This allowed them to immediately claim momentum, take advantage of a comfortable lead, and manage the game on both ends of the floor. The Spartans held a 16-10 lead after the first quarter and never looked back. Northwood Temple fought back, but to no avail, as The Burlington School only continued to extend their lead while simply being the better team on either side of the ball. Following their 32-24 advantage at halftime, the Spartans amped it up to another level and really asserted themselves as unstoppable throughout the second half. They held a 48-35 lead in the third quarter and ultimately finished the job in a convincing way, securing a 72-52 victory over Northwood Temple to claim the NCISAA 2A state championship.
The Burlington School:
6’1 ’21 Jamarii Thomas
The Wilmington commit was quite clearly the top performer for either team, as his blend of production, leadership, and determination was the driving force for the Spartans’ domineering showing. He utilizes jab-steps and crossovers extremely well to break down defenders, touch the paint, and either finish or draw fouls (which he converted at a reliable clip) on a regular basis. Thomas played to his strengths, pushing transition play and constantly looking to get a full head of steam when attacking downhill. He set the tone both offensively and defensively, and would’ve been an obvious choice for MVP from this contest. Final stats: 26 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal.
6’9 ’21 Kuluel Mading
It’s easy to see the appeal with Mading, who continues to steadily improve while being adaptable to his role within the flow of the action. In this contest, he played another straightforward, team-first game, and it paid clear dividends across four quarters of competition. Mading didn’t look to score unless presented with easy opportunities, but rather showed emphasis on rebounding and blocking shots. Despite giving up strength to the opposition, he had no issue utilizing his length to overwhelm his assignment. Mading simply has a knack for locating rebounds and patrolling the paint to alter shots. He will be an extremely interesting prospect to follow in the collegiate ranks. Final stats: 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 blocks.
6’2 ’24 Kobe George
While the previous duo did most of the heavy-lifting, George offered an absolutely necessary presence as the glue-guy and utility player on both ends of the floor. He simply made plays within the flow of the action while defending multiple positions and operating from various offensive roles. Only a freshman, George already has a lot to like and will certainly be a prospect to watch closely over the foreseeable at The Burlington School. Final stats: 13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal.
Other noteworthy contributors:
6’0 ’22 Shane Peterson- 8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals.
6’4 ’22 Ryan Roberts- 5 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 1 steal.
6’0 ’24 Zion Walker- 5 points, 2 assists, and 1 steal.
5’11 ’21 Isaiah Escobar- 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal.
6’7 ’21 Julian Williams
After being a steady, reliable, consistently productive leader all season long, Williams did everything possible to keep the ship afloat in this contest. Unfortunately, they fell short but through no fault of their two-way big man. Despite just a solid showing by his measure, Williams should have all types of scholarship-level programs fighting to secure his commitment at the next level. He’s a proven rebounder, interior scorer with IQ, touch, and a fundamental offensive arsenal out of the post. Williams doesn’t force the action, makes smart passes, and produces well within his role on either end of the floor. Final stats: 15 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal.
Other noteworthy contributors:
6’1 ’22 Jaquantae Harris- 10 points, 1 rebound, 4 assists, 1 block, and 2 steals.
5’11 ’21 Manny Sepulveda- 7 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, and 2 steals.
6’5 ’21 Yohann Axel-Sam- 5 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals.