The second day of Phenom’s November Classic carried onward between two premier programs in Victory Christian and Northwood Temple. Both teams are missing major pieces, namely 6’2 ’22 Jaquantae Harris for Northwood Temple along with 6’8 ’22 Randi Ovalle and 6’7 ’23 Addison Archer for Victory Christian. That being said, the Eagles quickly asserted themselves in control, dictating the action well, performing at a high level despite missing their leader, and ending the first quarter with a 12-18 lead. 6’7 ’21 Julian Williams, 6’5 ’21 Yohann Axel-Sam, and 5’10 ’21 Manny Sepulveda led the charge for Northwood Temple and maintained a 26-32 advantage entering halftime. 6’2 ’22 Takai Simpkins and 6’3 ’22 Tajuan Simpkins were a massive part of Victory Christian’s comeback run, taking over the lead at 43-41 through three quarters. It was a back-and-forth affair throughout the final period, leading to intense moments and numerous lead changes, ultimately resulting in a 61-59 victory for Victory Christian.
6’7 ’21 Julian Williams (Northwood Temple)
With Harris sidelined, Williams quickly rose up to lead this Eagles squad as a focal point on both ends of the floor. He operates very well around the basket, able to finish with turnarounds, either hand, or above the rim. Williams is a solid, steady presence that operates within himself and utilizes his length effectively to alter shots on defense. He rebounds consistently, runs the floor hard in transition, and highlights a promising combination of IQ and toughness.
6’5 ’21 Yohann Axel-Sam (Northwood Temple)
Although he might be one of the least-discussed players on this roster, Axel-Sam is as valuable as anyone to this team’s overall success. He’s big, strong, physical, and plays much bigger than his size would imply. Axel-Sam is capable of anchoring the paint quite well defensively while mixing it up regularly on offense. He highlights touch around the basket but also operated off the dribble and created (and converted) numerous opportunities throughout this showing.
6’2 ’22 Takai Simpkins (Victory Christian)
There’s an obvious amount of appeal with Victory Christian, which allowed Simpkins to shine even with multiple guys sidelined. Though he and his brother are basically interchangeable at either backcourt position, Simpkins often finds himself in more of a scoring role. He’s smart, crafty, and oozing with toughness, which allows him to punish opponents on both ends of the floor. Simpkins can reliably create for himself or others, get downhill whenever he desires, and finish strong while overwhelming his assignment defensively.
6’3 ’22 Tajuan Simpkins (Victory Christian)
As previously mentioned, Simpkins often finds himself running the team and making his contributions as a scorer and playmaker. He displays great balance with the ball in his hands while still overwhelming his assignment defensively. Simpkins is tough, smart, and excellent in transition, which should highlight obvious next-level appeal.