Phenom Hoops went back to review the tape, as EE Smith and Westover battled it out on Wednesday night, bringing two strong teams together with very intriguing talent. Both teams got off to a slow start and traded baskets, eventually being tied up at 10 after the first quarter. Second quarter though, Westover struggled with turnovers and knocking down shots, while EE Smith was able to outscore them 11-4 to take a 21-14 lead into halftime. EE Smith, behind James Scott and strong play from others, increased their lead to double digits in the third quarter and led 37-29 after three. Westover continued to compete and was looking to earn the come-from-behind victory at home, but EE Smith was able to hold on and take home a strong 55-49 victory.
Final: EE Smith 55 ' Westover 49
2023 James Scott (EE Smith): Scott has been incredible this season and when watching him yet again, you can see that he has only gotten better. The forward is exceptional in understanding how to use his length, long wingspan, and athleticism to his advantage.' Scott simply finds ways to get the ball in his hands, being strong in rebounding over defenders, moving well in the paint and throughout the floor, displaying touch and feel, and simply outworking opponents and creating second-chance opportunities.' He does a great job in running the floor from rim to rim and just has great instincts on the glass.' He was strong once again and was able to really get to the line as well.
Two other players that impressed me with how strong and physical they played were 2023 Travis Stroud and 2024 Johnathan Williams. Neither of which are big, but boy oh boy, did they outwork and make their presence felt. Both were able to get to the basket, finish strong at the rim or around the paint, or get to the line; neither settled as they stayed aggressive.
2024 Ari Fulton (Westover): Fulton continues to be that intriguing prospect in North Carolina. Why' Because there is so much to like about his game and checks off the list in many ways.' Great size, long, athletic, versatile, has a tremendous two-way presence, stat-stuffer, and a leader for this team.' Fulton was able to make plays on the defensive end, blocking shots and rebounding, but also continues to show his ability to operate inside the arc and use his size well.' He has had a strong season so far this season and should garner more attention his way.
2024 Almare Josey (Westover) also did a great job in knocking down shots from outside. Hit several big threes to help his team stay right there, and knocked them down with confidence.