Reflections on this year’s 2016 HAECO Invitational Basketball Tournament:A man can stand up

Posted by Andy Durham on December 29, 2016 at 2:18 pm under High School | 8 Comments to Read

It is time for this man to stand up, since I have been sitting around watching those high school basketball games, over at the Greensboro Coliseum over the past couple of days…

And some reflections on those games and we can add more reflections over the next day or so..

Lots of things to remember and to reflect on….

One of the things that keeps spinning around in my head is the play of Elissa Cunane from Northern Guilford HS….I know, I know that her team lost in the finals to Northwest Guilford, but I have not seen many, if any high school girls in the past that are as tall as Cunane is, do the things she does with the basketball, on the basketball court…For a female and at 6’5 to bring the ball up the court on the break, go behind her back with the dribble, make one-touch passes like a guard, shoot and hit the three on occasions, and these are things she is doing that don’t even include her scoring and her rebounding and she is doing things like this as a center, that can play like a guard and it seems to come naturally…Sometimes you might say a player is trying to do too much, but I don’t think so in this case, because it seems to fit…If she just stood there and shot and rebounded it would be one thing, but to look at the other parts of her game and realize she is just 15 years old and a junior, it is almost insane, insane as in Cunane, I guess…But, I’m telling you it us fun to watch and those college coaches must be shaking their heads and wondering, “what are we going to do with her?”…..She is on the verge of going to some big name college and I can’t wait to see how her game develops and she has to have been playing some games with some pretty good boys basketball players too, because the things this kid is doing, with her, is not what you are seeing at your everyday girl’s basketball games….It still sort of blows my mind and I hope I don’t get over it…Can you compare her to a crane, with the long wing-span???? I don’t know, and maybe I am over-analyzing this part of the game, but like I said earlier, it is fun to watch her play and you are not sure what she might do next and you keep finding yourself saying, “I can’t believe she just tried that”, but she did and it worked….

How about that Thomas Hennigan from Northwest Guilford hustle?????..Can we find a way to bottle and sell this stuff? Thomas Hennigan has more hustle and maybe more heart than any kid you will see in Guilford County….Determination with a capital “D”….Some of it has to come from his uncle that we have talked about here before, and that would former NFL player Mike Hennigan…Some were saying we need to give Hennigan the ‘Iron Mike’ award and that might be something to think about…The kid has a motor that won’t quit running…He is on the floor, he is in the air, he is in the opponent’s chest, he is in his face, he won’t go away and he won’t quit…This guy is it…As one of the old sayings goes, “Just wind him up and turn him loose”…..There is no such thing as STOP with Thomas Hennigan….They came up with this thing a few years ago that referees use called a whistle, but if Thomas Hennigan hears or sees a Stop Sign, he just runs right on through it and keeps on going….Loose ball on the floor and if Thomas Hennigan is in the game, forget about it….He is on the floor and now you have a ‘held ball’, that is if you can hang on to it…When Thomas gets his hands on it, you won’t have that ball long….The college football coaches must have dreams of plays for this kid just running through their heads, because when he gets to college, the motor will really get running and there is no stopping TH/Thomas Hennigan…..Love to see that energy and drive on display…

Other reflections and my goal is to hit on the positives since they will help you reach your goals quicker than the negatives will….

Solomon Smith, from the Greensboro Day School had real quiet tournament, but he was quietly putting up key numbers that often times go unnoticed…I think it was on Tuesday, he quietly went about his business and pulled in 12 big rebounds and with the other Bengals around him having such well-known and established names like JP Moorman, John Newman III, Will Dillard and Jordan Perkins, sometimes the Smith name can get lost in the shuffle, but he is a key player and a force on the inside for the Bengals….When JP Moorman was forced to sit down with foul trouble, Solomon Smith was one of those Bengals that amped up his game and made a huge difference….Also noted, in talking to John Newman, Will Dillard and JP Moorman, you can tell that the classroom experience has been a good one for them at Greensboro Day…Those young men can reflect just like me, if not better….

In the final game, the Northwest Guilford girls had way too many stepping up and that is why they won…Northern Guilford needed help for Elissa Cunane and that will come with time and work, but this time around in 2016, the Lady Vikings had the help for MPV Cayla King and she had plenty to go around….Liz Kitley with 10 points and 10 rebounds and last week she had her foot in a boot to protect her from the pain that goes along with a sore ankle…King and Kitley teamed up, but how about little Lindsay Gauldin??? Little Lindsay with 15 points and the confidence of a Champion..A few yards ago I could walk past Little Lindsay and create a breeze that might blow her over, just by passing by, but now Little Lindsay has gotten bigger, faster, stronger and smarter and it is showing up and paying off…She used to come into games late, as a freshman, just get in her dribbles and now she starts and is in there to get her monies worth…The freshman for NWG, Thalia Carter, took the first shot of the Championship Game and dribbled out the clock to end the game and she has come a long way since her 8th grade year at Northwest Middle School….Bria Gibbs is somewhat like Solomon Smith from GDS…Many of the things Bria Gibbs does do not show up in the box scores, but she is a true team player and she does mind not clearing out and clogging up the lane, in order to make the ‘team defense’ work the way it is supposed to…Gibbs probably helps her team more with her defense and her rebounding and that allows other teammates to find the basket and get their shots…Sometimes you don’t even realize Cayla King is out there, but then you look and she is part of everything NWG is doing on offense and defense and on her slow nights, she is still good for 10 points and 4-5 assists….King is also very effective with ball control…She knows how to handle and settle the basketball and to keep it moving to the proper players….

Seemed to me that Hendon Hooker(Dudley HS) had a steady tournament and he came very close to making the All-Tournament team….Tim Boulware got warm for the Dudley Boys in the last game for the Panthers on Wednesday and I was just about to hang up a “Beware of Boulware Sign”, over by the front door of Court One of the Coliseum Special Events Center, just as that 3rd Place Boys game ended…Hooker has some moves and he can do what the old coach used to talk about, “Hooker can get to the rim”……Hooker seems to like to go about his game at the fast-paced level and the quicker the better for him to get to the hole and finish with the “Finger Roll”….And he can do that quite well thank-you and we do have Dudley at Smith coming up next Tuesday Night, keep that game in mind….

These are just a few of my reflections on this year’s tournament so far and I hope you can add some positive ones and I will try to enhance these with a few more later on….


  • Tre Turner said,

    I believe somehow, some way, Solomon Smith should’ve been on the All Tournament Team, without any questions asked. He gets the job done. I also belive Lindsay should’ve been on All Tournament on the girls side. Great championship games. Thank you Haeco Committee for everything this year, we always enjoy the hospitality and the tournament. Happy New Year to all!

  • Haeco Watcher said,

    Good assessment Andy. Looking at Hendon Hooker’s all around scoring in the tournament, rebounds, assists, steadily leading his team, he should have DEFINITELY made the All Tournament team. A few of those guys may have had hustle, but not numbers. Hooker had hustle AND numbers. At least one other player should be considered, as it was for the girls as well. I also agree with Tre Turner that Solomon was more deserving than some of his teammates. Haeco did a good job of making all feel welcome.

  • Shannon Michael said,

    Tre Turner – You are a class act. Best of luck the rest of this season, next season and beyond. I have enjoyed watching you play and grow for many years and will continue to watch you for many more!

  • Thomas Hennigan said,

    Thank you for the kind words mr Durham

  • Andy Durham said,

    Thomas, you deserve the recognition…Coach Freddy Johnson and his Bengals were saying the same thing, after the game on Wednesday night….

    Time to get ready for Southwest Guilford, Ragsdale, High Point Central, East Forsyth and Glenn, as the conference foes come rolling in…

  • KD said,

    It was my first time seeing Elissa Cunane play and she did some things that most guards can’t do she has a chance to be very special. And Andy you were right that move she went behind her back made me get out my seat. Thomas Hennigan wow EVERY TEAM needs a player like him. Kids like that help you win games. All the boys played hard but just seems like he had another gear I was very impressed. Tre Turner is a class act very respectful young man and like he said Solomon Smith should have made it, he has a quiet game but makes a very big impact.

  • NW Alumni said,

    As a NW alum, it makes me very proud that Tre, Thomas and really most of the athletes at NW are such class acts. What a lot of people that don’t attend the NW games don’t get to see is that these kids, or young adults, have a lot of young fans at basketball games. I’ve never seen any of them shake one of these kids off and not talk to them, before or after a game. A lot of times the players will acknowledge the kids before the kids run up to them. This says a lot about their character and the kind of men/women that they will be in the future. The girls team don’t have that same attention but they do have it and again they are always very polite. Thank you guys and girls for making our school and our community so proud, it’s not always about winning.

  • Andy Durham said,

    Kudos on the Tre Turner props…

    +++++And I remember last year when we needed some water and ‘The Spice Man” got us some water and he came through in the clutch.+++++