On Friday, Phenom Hoops traveled to Northern Guilford High School to see the hometown Nighthawks host the Eagles of Eastern Alamance. We expected it to be a tough test for both teams, as Northern has hovered around the .500-mark for most of the season while Eastern Alamance has maintained their undefeated record but was without one of their top contributors, Caleb Hester, for this contest.
Things got underway in a sluggish manner, but the Eagles began to control the lead and showed no signs of relinquishing it. They focused heavily on giving the ball to Na’zae Baltimore and letting him absolutely go to work against the Nighthawks’ interior defense, which proved to be the most reliable scoring method for anyone on either team. Neither team was overly impressive on offense, as they both seemed so rushed and frazzled. However, Eastern Alamance outworked Northern quite easily on the glass, which simply led to a first-half onslaught. Things began going in the Nighthawks’ favor during the second half and they actually outscored the Eagles 30 to 34 after the break. Eastern Alamance’s first half was enough to hold off Northern Guilford by a score of 62-53.
6’5 ’19 Na’Zae Baltimore
Though undersized, the strong-bodied big man was basically unstoppable last night. Baltimore could receive the ball from any spot on the floor and seemed capable of generating a quality bucket. He’s big, but quite nimble for his size and displays the ability to maneuver past most opponents. Baltimore possesses great touch and feel from within the paint, especially when pursuing rebounds and second-chance opportunities. He was certainly the most productive two-way player for either team and could definitely play at the next level. Final stats: 21 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals.
6’0 ’22 Darius Kane
The most intriguing player for Eastern Alamance is their freshman point guard. He’s somewhat passive on offense and typically plays alongside another ball-handler, but also showcased the ability to create off the bounce and get downhill pretty well. Kane rebounds extremely well for a guard, but college coaches should start to take notice, especially if he continues to add offensive polish. Final stats: 10 points and 9 rebounds.
6’0 ’19 LJ Rogers
The main leader for this squad appeared to be Rogers, who was probably their best all-around threat. His jumper usually is more consistent than we saw on display last night, however, did a phenomenal job of turning it up and being there when his team needed him. Rogers was arguably their most vital second-half performer, since he was keeping the team afloat when buckets became hard to come by. Rogers is a terrific athlete that gets to the rim with incredible ease and possesses the necessary explosion to catch opponents by surprise. We also liked his unselfishness and ability to create for others. Rogers should continue to be viewed as a college-level prospect. Final stats: 8 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal.
6’3 ’20 Carson Lomax
The main leader for Northern Guilford has been Lomax for most of the season. He definitely had some struggles last night, but still showed some positive signs for his continued growth. Lomax attacked the midrange area well and looked to pull-up whenever possible. He had decent success at creating for himself, but just struggled to convert. That being said, Lomax plays quite hard and does a great job of maintaining a strong level of intensity on both ends of the floor. He contained his assignment well and should ultimately regain his offensive groove. It’ll be interesting to see his development over the next few months, as Lomax could end up as a college-level prospect. Final stats: 11 points.
6’3 ’22 Nolan Hodge
It’s still very early, but there’s already so much to like about Hodge and his overall trajectory. He’s quickly grown throughout the last year or two and now possesses great length for his age. Hodge is somewhat thin, but has ample time to add strength and develop his body throughout high school. His feel for the game has been quite evident for the last few years, even when he was still extremely new to the game and just did what came naturally. Now, Hodge looks more capable of contributing than ever before and understands his skillset quite well. He showed the ability to score from all three levels last night and possesses excellent mechanics on his three-point stroke. Final stats: 11 points and 3 steals.