It will be #1 Greensboro Day School(15-2) taking on #2 Dudley(6-1) for the boys and #1 Grimsley(11-0) battling #3 Northwest Guilford(12-0) on the girls slate in the finals of the 32nd Annual Pizza Hut Little Four Basketball Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center. The girls game tips off at 6pm and the boys go at it at 8 tonight.
This will be the third straight Dudley-GDS boys final with the Bengals having won two straight over the Panthers. In 2005 it was GDS 70, Dudley 54 and last year the final was GDS 68, Dudley 63. The NWG girls won back-to-back titles in 2003/2004. The Grimsley girls won two times in a row back in 2000/2001. The Dudley boys most recent championship came in 2004 with their 78-36 smashing victory over NEG.
Since 1990, either the GDS or Dudley boys have been to the finals every year except 1997 and 2003. Greensboro Day is making their 12th appearance in the finals and will be going for the 8th title. Dudley is making their 19th appearance in the finals and are going for their 11th title. The NWG and Grimsley girls have never met for the title.
In the girls contest it will be interesting to see how many times Trumae Lucas gets to the foul line for Grimsley. It will be crucial for the Whirlies to get Nicole Hargraves involved in the offense. Grimsley will also depend heavily on point guard Amber Cook and Jasmine Alston along with Kristen Fields gives Grimsley a much stronger starting five. NWG will rely on Gretchen Bennett and Anna Scholbohm to pace the Viking attack. Mari Furr, Brittany Dowdy, and Melisa Foures will balance out the NWG lineup. How many times will Lucas get to the line and how many will she hit? Trumae Lucas was 4-10 at the foul line vs. Page for Grimsley last night.
The boys game might just another Little Four classic. Brandon Pennix down low for Dudley and the Panthers’ superstar freshman PJ Hairston will draw a ton of attention from the Greensboro Day defenders. You’ll be so busy playing defense it may take away from your offense. How many times have you been in a game and you’ve played so hard on defense, you could barely stand up when you got the ball on offense? One way to attack on defense is to cut the head off of the monster. That would be GDS taking away the game of the point guard for Dudley, Brennan Wyatt. If Wyatt has trouble getting the ball into Pennix then GDS has succeeded. Will GDS play some zone and pack it back in, like Grimsley did last night? Grimsley was able to stay in the game with Dudley by playing the zone “D”.(Whirlies fell to the Panthers 49-46)
There could be a huge battle inside with the “Big Cat” Mike Coger, and Javan Mitchell of GDS. Both of these young men remind me of Carl Eller, former defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings. How well will PJ Hairston play in the Little Four Final? He has two games under his belt in the tournament, but this is the final. There were a couple of times last night against Grimsley where PJ tightened up a little bit. Ricky Smith could be the wild card for Dudley, he had 8 points vs. Grimsley and Ricky is very mobile. Senior Josh Cobb may have to step up if Wyatt is forced to leave the game for the Panthers.
Greensboro Day has three very solid scorers in Mitchell, Jay Lewis, and Bruce Woodall. Contributions from the complimentary players Pulliam, Carty, Wintringham, Dorsett, Weavil, and Jordan Robertson will be very important. Robertson may have to spell Mitchell inside if there is foul trouble or if Javan needs a rest. Marcus Heath will be a factor for Dudley with his outside shooting and his quick first-step to the basket. It may just come down to how well Wyatt and Coger play for Dudley and how much domination Mitchell can experience for GDS inside.
There is a wealth of talent to go around and that being said we probably need to leave it to the coaches. It’s Freddy Johnson vs. David Price one more time for the Little Four title. What type of job will the coaches do when it comes to pulling it out of their players? As the old man once said, “all you can do is pray and ask for help”. There will be plenty of that to go way around the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center.