On Tuesday, Phenom Hoops traveled out to High Point Christian Academy to watch the Cougars host the visiting The Burlington School Spartans. On one hand, the Cougars have consistently gotten better while playing against increasingly high levels of competition. As for TBS, the Spartans have secured numerous notable wins and currently sit at second in our NCISAA rankings. There was no shortage of talent between the two programs, which basically guaranteed a battle from start to finish.

The first quarter opened up in a fairly ugly fashion, as HPCA jumped out to an early lead and held the Spartans to just three points through eight minutes of play. However, things quickly turned around for both squads. TBS mounted a 12-2 run to cap off a 18-9 quarter, securing the lead at 21-20 entering halftime. While it might appear as a defensive battle from afar, both teams struggled at capitalizing on easy scoring chances and ultimately left a ton of points on the table. After the break, both teams amped up the intensity and found their offensive footing, turning this contest into an exciting battle. The individual matchup of Jamarii Thomas and KJ Garrett proved to be worth the anticipation, as both guys led their teams down the stretch. The Cougars regained their lead at 39-35 behind a strong third-quarter showing from Thomas McIntosh. Meanwhile, Kuluel Mading took his game to another level and showcased the ability to take over on both ends of the floor. It was truly anyone’s game heading into crunch time, but the Cougars made simple mistakes and the Spartans capitalized—leading to a 61-56 victory for The Burlington School.

The Burlington School:

6’10 ’21 Kuluel Mading

After watching Mading throughout the last few years, this might’ve been his most exciting and memorable showing ever. The appeal has always been obvious with someone possessing his size, fluidity, and sheer amount of upside. While adding true, in-game perimeter skills is more difficult than most might think, Mading is starting to turn those flashes into legitimate perimeter ability. He offered his usual amount of rebounding, rim-protection, and transition ability, but also knocked down a three-pointer, displayed toughness inside the paint, and made decisive moves when attacking the basket from the perimeter. It’s easy to get enticed with Mading, especially given his flashes of pure dominance in this contest. Final stats: 21 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocks, and 4 steals.

6’1 ’21 Jamarii Thomas (UNCW commit)

Pretty much everyone in North Carolina should know about Thomas, who has become an extremely popular prospect over the last calendar year. He’s a vocal leadership presence with clear toughness and the ability to consistently set the tone as a defender at the point of attack. Thomas is a great downhill penetrator with the ability to absorb contact, finish through opponents, or make the proper read to cutting teammates. He’s a quality athlete with sharp change of direction and excellent anticipation instincts. Thomas displays a terrific nose for the ball and made a nonstop impact in this showing. Final stats: 21 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 6 steals.

Other noteworthy contributors:

6’4 ’22 Ryan Roberts- 10 points and 3 rebounds

6’5 ’23 Jakel Powell- 3 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block, and 2 steals

High Point Christian:

6’1 ’21 KJ Garrett

Although he didn’t shoot the ball well in the first half, Garrett could still be found leading with poise, playmaking, and communication. He quickly altered his approach and began hunting to make plays for others whenever possible. Garrett possesses a blindingly quick crossover and utilizes it to enter the paint at a constant rate, where he’s proven to be a capable finisher and unselfish passer. He intercepts passing lanes well and understands how to properly push the break in transition. Garrett should still be warranting attention from scholarship-holding coaches. Final stats: 11 points, 7 assists, and 3 steals.

6’5 ’22 Thomas McIntosh

The Cougars were in desperate need of someone to step up, and McIntosh ultimately became that guy. He highlighted nice versatility, battling inside, stepping out for perimeter jumpers, and making hustle plays whenever possible. McIntosh scored in a variety of different ways while making his presence felt on the glass. Final stats: 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks. 

Other noteworthy contributors:

6’7 ’22 Ethan Smith- 10 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals

6’3 ’21 PJ Underhill- 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals