By Marcus Shockley
West Stokes’ zone defense worked to limit Winston-Salem Prep’s offense
The theme for the 37th annual Frank Spencer Holiday Classic was ‘overtime’; both the Pepsi bracket and the Champion bracket saw extended sessions in the final games.
The Pepsi bracket set up a showdown between #1 bracket seed Forsyth Country Day against #3 seed West Forsyth. This season, Forsyth Country Day gets most their scoring from the guard and wing positions, powered by Jack Young (SG, 6’0″, 2012), Colton Bishop (PG/SG, 6’0″, 2014) and Andy Bell (SG/SF, 6’3″, 2013), and this game was no different, with Bishop’s hot shooting from the perimeter giving the Furies 20 points, leading all scorers. Young’s normally solid outside shot wasn’t falling, but he still managed to score in a variety of ways, adding another 15.
For West Forsyth, they were effective late with an inside-outside attack, as big man two-sport star Alex McAlister (PF/C, 6’7″, 2012) was again a major factor, scoring 18 points for the titans, and guard Carl Tyson (PG/SG, 6’0″, 2012) added another 18. Teion Waller (PG, 5’9″ 2014) showed some of his ability to get to the rim and handle the ball in traffic, adding another 14 points.
Tyson’s layup with under a minute in regulation sent the game into overtime, and it came down to the last possession, with Jack Young intercepting a pass to give FCD the win in OT, 64-62. Young was named the MVP of the Pepsi bracket.
Teion Waller slashes to the hoop as West Forsyth takes on Forsyth Country Day
The second game of the night pitted #1 bracket seed Winston-Salem Prep against underdog seventh-seeded West Stokes. Prep’s strength all season has come from their ability to trap, push the ball in transition and score from the wings, while Stokes has the solid work of their bigs and smart defensive play.
This game was a barnburner, although during the first quarter, Prep threatened to run away with it. West had trouble scoring and Prep’s ability to push the ball was not allowing them to set up their defense. The focus on Prep is always on Greg McClinton (SF, 6’6″, 2013), an explosive leaper who can handle the ball and has added a solid jumper to his offense, but the Phoenix also have Raekwon Harney (PG, 5’9″, 2013), a true point who plays like he was born with a basketball in his hand, and Mike Hughes (SG, 6’2″, 2014), an up and coming scorer who is deadly pushing the ball end-to-end.
However, West Stokes, playing behind solid post work of two-sport star Austin Fleming (PF, 6’3″, 2012) and the orchestration of Josh Spainhour (PG, 6’0″, 2013), clawed back into the game by implementing a zone defense that Prep had trouble with. The game became a back-and-forth battle, and Spainhour hit a clutch 3 pointer to send the game into overtime. Fleming was effective early in the game but fell to the floor after a hard foul, re-injuring his shoulder, which he had suffered during football season. After leaving the game, he eventually returned with bandaged shoulder intact, but his shot elevation was missing; he struggled to get the ball over the rim in free throws and was limited offensively.
The overtime periods became a war of attrition; Prep plays such a heavy trapping style that they always run the risk of foul trouble, and soon the extended times started to take their toll, as they eventually lost four of their starters to fouls. In overtime, it appeared that Prep sealed the win when Mike Hughes scored and converted a 3-point play, but Spainhour raced down the floor and nailed another shot at the buzzer to send the game into double overtime.
In the second overtime, West again needed heroics to extend their shot at a title, and this time the clutch shot came from Fleming, who hit a mid range floater even though his shoulder had limited his offense for nearly the entire game. As the game moved to the third overtime, the loss of their key players was too much for Prep, and eventually Spainhour, who scored 27 points in the game, was able to hold off the press and Stokes sealed the win, 83-71.
Special thanks to TriadSportsCoverage.com for their photo work during the tourney.