From L. A. Logan, we have this report from the News Garden Friends School game against Prominence Academy.
New Garden Friends School cruise past Prominence for their 12th victory of the season
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final New Garden Friends 11 20 13 19 63 Prominence Academy 16 10 13 11 50
Senior guard Kanayo Obi-Rapu Jr. did the expected.
And the Bears defense did the unexpected by keeping St. Joseph’s University commit, Markell Lodge, and Liberty University commit, Stavian Allen, in-check thanks to senior center Ikenna Smart and the Bears’ defensive effort.
“We played with a purpose and it all started with our defense,” I. Smart said.
“As a team we played great team defense and came up with the 50/50 loose balls,” senior point-guard Kane Ma added.
During warm-ups, Lodge’s chin nearly hit the rim on several occasions while attempting dunks. It was an incredible site to see, but that did not intimidate NGFS one bit.
Obi-Rapu Jr. and the Bears were not impressed with the pregame show, as he put on a performance with 27 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals.
“We came out strong and controlled the tempo,” said Obi-Rapu Jr.
“As always, Kanayo found a way to score and set up his teammates,” said NGFS head coach Dave Secor.
Prominence led 11-6 in the first quarter after Lodge’s tip dunk. On the next very next NGFS possession, Ma found a streaking Obi-Rapu Jr. for a 3 on the rightwing cutting their deficit 11-9.
Lodge finished off the first quarter with a tomahawk slam helping Prominence to extend their lead, 16-11.
From the second quarter on, NGFS setup into a 3-2 zone that caused problems for Prominence for the remainder of the game.
“I think the difference in the game was my decision to play zone,” Coach Secor said. “Then the team executed by pounding the boards and forcing them to shoot long contested jumpers.”
Prominence guards failed to hit shots, which led to transition points by the Bears.
Obi-Rapu Jr. found junior guard Sterling Holland in transition for a layup and a foul for the game’s first tie, 18-18.
Obi-Rapu Jr. scored 8 points in the final four minutes, Ma hit a pull-up 3 and I. Smart snuck behind the defense for a slam off of an Obi-Rapu Jr. pass to finish the second quarter on a 13-6 run.
Ma and Smart showed their physical toughness and proved they have the ability to play against college ready talent. Ma finished with a career-high 18 points and 6 assists.
“I took my opportunities when I had the chance and knocked down shots for my team,” Ma said.
Ma is averaging 13.5 points and 8 assists in his last three contests. I. Smart added 8 points along with a career-high 21 rebounds (17 defensive).
“Ikenna and Kingsley really crashed the boards all night,” Obi-Rapu Jr. said.
To start the second half, Lodge hit a 12-foot jumper at the foul line and followed that with another amazing tip-dunk to cut NGFS’s lead to 31-30.
Lodge finished with 16 points, but was held to 0 points in the fourth after scoring 6 points in the third.
I. Smart capped off a 14-0 run with a jump-hook in the middle of the lane assisted by Obi-Rapu Jr that gave them a commanding 44-30 advantage.
Prominence cut the lead to 44-37 by the end of the third. But the Bears went on a 9-2 run to start the fourth and that run would be the deciding factor.
During that stretch, Obi-Rapu Jr. hit I. Smart twice to two layups, Kane hit another pull-up 3, I. Smart drew a charge and finally Obi-Rapu Jr.’s scoop lay-up iced the game for NGFS.
NGFS hit the road to face Bull City Prep. in Durham, NC on Jan. 17.