Predictions: In an attempt to be a bootleg Dan Brown, I gave my prediction for the game "encoded" in my last blog. What many thought was a problem with my fonts, I spelled out my prediction in red capitol letters from the top down. It reads, "Brennan By 5". Lucky guess, but Brennan did prevail by five, 65-60!
Atmosphere- The young skinny Black dude led the cat calls. Dressed in an extra tight T-shirt and rocking baby dreads in his hair, the youngster had the student section jumping! "Turn Up" is what punctuated every chant. Brennan seemed to feed off of the energy as they mounted a comeback after being down by 15 points at halftime. The small gray haired Caucasian woman in the middle of the student section getting "turnt up" with the kids was as amusing as the game was exciting. In a city that plays high school games in huge empty stadiums, the on-campus environment gave the game a feel of importance. Many of the game participants will go on to play at the next level but few will play in front of a more hyped crowd celebrating them!
Star Power- Tanaeya Boclair shook off a slow start and took over in the clutch. The Utah bound forward finished with 24 pts 14brds, mostly all in the second half and OT. Tay frequently caught the ball outside the 3 point line, faced the basketball and attacked the rack! She continues to show her progression as a forward that can play on the perimeter and in the paint. She never wavered and provided a steady influence on her teammates as they faced a seemingly insurmountable lead.
McKenzie Calvert stats are not posted online yet but my prediction of her having 30pts had to be pretty close. Calvert is a young expert at showmanship. She made athletic plays in transition and at the rim. She sacrificed her body to draw timely fouls vs Brennan's huge front line. She hit free throws and stared at Brennan's student section "like what"! The inspirational leader of Steele did her part to help her team win but came up a little short in the end.
Guard Play- UTSA bond Carlie Heineman overcame early foul trouble and hit 2 huge bombs off of well ran sets late in the game for Brennan. Heineman and Kalani Marquez came up big when it mattered. Marquez did a good job shadowing Calvert to her left and being physical with her. She also won a couple 50-50 balls and hit 2 big free throws in the waning seconds.
Sarai Rodriguez was really solid for Steele all night. The PG is small but very quick and effective. She hit a jumper or two but put constant pressure on the D with the dribble. Simply put, Rodriguez in a Division 1 caliber lead guard.
Baby Bear- Brennan freshman Kinzie Heineman played beyond her years. She did a remarkable job handling the pressure of Steele and running the point. She weathered intense ball pressure and still got the Bears into their many structured sets in the clutch. Brennan does not win without the heady play from the fabulous frosh.
Old Reliable(s) - Grand Canyon commit Eliza Martinez hit timely shots and provided key boards and blocks to keep Brennan close when Boclair and Carlie Heineman started slowly. The 6'1 post hit three 15ft jumpers and a beautiful midrange runner in traffic to keep the Steele defense honest. Foul trouble sat her down early but she was Brennan's best player at times.
Bri Millett shot the ball well from the baseline short corner early for Steele. The strong wing showed her smooth touch as she finished a few dribble kicks by splashing open looks. Unfortunately for Steele, she fouled out early in the 4th quarter.
Erika Chapman had the tough task of keeping Tay Bolcair in check and did so for the 1st half. Chapman also finished strong forays to the rack at crucial times in the games. The wing could have probably used more touches on the offensive end. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if she was allowed to use her face up game from the pinch post to go at Boclair, who basically rested on the defensive end since Chapman had limited touches.
Coaching- Anyone not knowing how good Brennan's Koty Cowgill is got a glimpse tonight. EVERY set he ran down the stretch resulted in quality looks at the basket, most ending up in buckets for Brennan. Down 15 at half, double figures going into the fourth, Cowgill kept his kids focused and used his timeouts perfectly. He substituted offense for defense resulting in fluid scores and important stops. The most telling set was a staggered pick and roll that ended up being a flare for the second screener, shooter Carlie Heineman. The same set was ran for Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis for UCONN last night. The next time down, they ran the same set but Cowgill knew that the defense would jump Heineman so they hit an isolated Boclair for a paint touch for 2. Those 5 points changed the game! Uncle MOmentum by that time was on his side. Game Over!
The last game I attended that felt like this was a Wagner vs Steele battle during the Len'Nique Brown and Meighan Simmons years. This game exemplified what is right about high school basketball. Dedicated and skilled players, passionate coaches, fans acting up, crowded stands, hard fouls, big shots, people anticipating twitter updates............