On the Road Again, Cannon wins back-to-back state championships 

It was only fitting, the top two teams in the NCISAA 4A were playing for the state championship. That being said, Cannon road to the title came the hard way, just like the year before. They had to win on the opposing team’s home court. Last year, Cannon beat Charlotte Latin and then beat Carmel 94-85 to capture the coveted NCISAA 4A championship. By now, head coach Che Roth favorite tune may just be Willie Nelson’s song, “On the Road Again.”

Cannon came into the contest with a 26-5 record while Carmel was 23-1. It was a heavyweight match-up of two excellent basketball programs that are well coached and rosters that will be playing at the collegiate level. Before we get into the game details, special shout out to coach Joe Badgett and Che Roth. We have known both coaches for many years. They are both craftsmen as high school coaches. Both coaches conduct themselves in the most professional way, on and off the court. For coach Joe Badgett, he was only complimentary in the play of his rival. “They played an extremely good game.” 

Cannon saved their best game when it mattered most. They were clicking on all cylinders. They were knocking down 3-pointers with efficiency, but more importantly did an absolutely fantastic job of controlling the defensive glass. They showed poise and maturity down the stretch and captured another NCISAA state championship. Now, let’s take a closer look at the standout players for the game. 

6’8 ’21 Elijah Ormiston (Cannon)

Ormiston was the MVP of the first half. He scored 15 of his game high 16 points in the first 16 minutes of the game. Ormiston knocked down two 3-pointers, hit the midrange and was aggressive attacking the rim, not to mention he was grabbing rebounds and even dishing out assists. It was an excellent all- around game, but the most important statistic won’t even show up in the box score. Whenever Carmel attempted a shot, Ormiston immediately turned to make sure he boxed-out Ben Burnham. Burnham is excellent at crashing the boards, and even if Ormiston didn’t get the defensive rebound, he prevented Burnham from getting the offensive rebound. 

7’1 ’22 Christian Reeves (Cannon)

Standing a lengthy and still growing 7’1, Christian Reeves had his best outing in a Cannon uniform in our opinion. We had him with an unofficial 12 points and 15 rebounds. Reeves has been plagued with injuries throughout his high school career, due to his constant growth spurt. That being said, look for Reeves’s stock to rise sooner rather than later. His length created problems for Carmel finishing in the paint as the opposing players had to readjust their shots to get it over the reach of Reeves. He blocked and altered shots and his sheer size and length in the paint got Carmel out of their rhythm on offense.

6’7 ’22 DJ Nix (Cannon)

Nix finished with a team high 20 points. He knocked down two 3-pointers while making a perfect 14-14 from the free throw line. Nix rebounded, hustled and dished out assists in a workmanlike approach. That being said, the most impressive play of the day had nothing to do with him scoring or leading to a scoring opportunity. It was sportsmanship. In the second half, Nix received a pass in the corner and gave a nifty “shot fake” with a dribble drive move. Cade Tyson jumped in the air and landed awkwardly on his back. As soon as Nix saw Tyson on the floor, he immediately ran over to him to help him up in what was a great show of sportsmanship. 

6’5 ’21 Jarvis Moss (Cannon)

The Stanford commit got into early foul trouble in the first half, however, Moss still finished with 14 points. Moss has really improved his ball handling skills and impressed us with his court vision and timely passes. With his ability to shoot efficiency from the perimeter, he has become crafty with shot fakes, stop and go with the hesitation dribble. We have seen Moss grow and develop under head coach Che Roth into a high major prospect. Known primarily for his shooting ability, Moss has really turned the corner and has become a terrific all-around player.

6’7 ’22 Cade Tyson (Carmel) 

Tyson finished with a game high 28 points. He had three 3-pointers, but provided us just a glimpse of his long-term potential. Known for his ability to stretch the defense, Tyson proved he is more than just a long-range perimeter shooter. He was aggressively attacking the rim and used his body control and advanced skill set to score on many nifty drives to the rim. Tyson has excellent length, good athleticism and an offensive skill set that will translate well at the collegiate level. If Tyson continues to be consistent with this more aggressive approach, his stock too will continue to climb. 

6’3 ’22 Justin Taylor (Cannon)

Taylor has grown tremendously under the leadership of head coach Joe Badgett. Taylor was more known as a scoring guard, but that worked extremely hard on the “lead guard” position. Taylor plays with poise, maturity and has the ability to score or create scoring opportunities for his teammates. More importantly, Taylor has a quiet demeanor and leads by example. Taylor finished with 21 points and does just about everything you expect from a point guard. Next season, Taylor will attend Hargrave Military and with another year under his belt, he should be getting interest from high major schools. 

Best of the Rest

It was a total team effort from Cannon. DJ Nix led the way with 20, while Elijah Ormiston, Jarvis Moss, and Christian Reeves all scored 16, 14 and 12 points respectively. In addition, 6’2 ’21 Deuce Rolle, 6’5 ’22 Karon Boyd and 6’3 ’24 Austin Swartz all scored nine points. All three made “statement” plays throughout the course of the game. Also, look for Austin Swartz to be in the conversation as one of the better players in the North Carolina loaded 2024 class. 

For Carmel, 6’8 senior Ben Burnham and 6’4 senior Glenn Bynum Jr. had 12 and nine points respectively. It wasn’t the usual “double double” performance we’ve all been accustomed too, but Burnham has grown and developed leaps and bounds since his arrival at Carmel. He’s had a spectacular senior season and finished in the top 10 in our latest North Carolina 2021 class. Glenn Bynum Jr. is the epitome of hard work and being an unbelievable player and person. Bynum had nine points and five steals by our account. While he was never the “go to” option during his high school career, he was always the team’s glue guy, doing whatever was asked upon by coach Joe Badgett.

First-class programs and first-class coaches

For me personally, I didn’t want to see either coach lose. Over the years, coach Che Roth and Joe Badgett have supported me and more importantly I’m proud to call them my friend. They are what’s good about high school basketball. They coach and teach the game of basketball in a respectful manner. They are good winners, but even better people in defeat. That being said, congratulations to both coaches on a fantastic year in one of the most difficult times in our life time. Cannon and Carmel attended countless Phenom events throughout the season and for that, I say thank you.