The night started with the JV Boys game where I got to meet long time NC coach Dave Hall(Frosh coach) and see a lot of old friends with their kids now playing at NC and Ferris.
It was a close game and the first thing I noticed was Brendan Blocker flying up and down the court, pressuring the Ferris PG-on defense and then dribbling through and past attempted Saxon traps. Ferris got a large lead from their size and ability to finish after rebounds. They seem to have a fairly solid squad- guards and bigs – considering the amount of youth this year at the varsity level. Shane Huttala, a Junior, had a nice game for the Saxons and looked to be the best player on the court as far as post players were concerned. Late in the game the Indians came swarming back with a fourth quarter push as a substitution of starters back into the game caused a spark. Evan O’Connor, Baby Jordan, along with Brendan did most of the damage during the comeback and look to be the players to rise up through he ranks in the coming years for NC. It fell short as NC couldn’t hit at the FT line gong 3-7 in the final few minutes, losing by 3.
Next up was the Freshmen Boys game which was a promising affair for both squads as I saw 6 players who could make worthy contributions for both programs in the approaching years. Ferris had Josh Via a tough nosed forward and Jake Robinson– a solid ball handler and point guard. For NC they were led by guards Damian Carter, RJ Tensley, and Post players RaShawn Lemery, and the 6′-7″ giant Chris Regelado. Although Ferris played a hard pressure 3/4 court trap for most of the game, they could not slow the more offensively capable guards of NC. Carter and Tensley seemed to have more poise and experience. RaShawn Lemery showed that when challenged he can rise above the dominate inside the paint with offensive boards and put backs using sheer athleticism. It’s always interesting to see which players develop, both physically and skill wise as they move forward through the years. North Central won fairly easily.
I was looking forward to watching Kieana Bigsmoke for the North Central Freshmen girls but she was out with an ankle injury. There will be a next time!
The Varsity Girls game was next up and I was anticipating this game as I couldn’t wait to watch some of the better guards in the league- Bria Bowton, Abbey Muelheim, Megan Meulheim, and freshmen sensation Kayla Sharp of Ferris. Not to mention one of my favorite players, Megan Dean- North Central’s “do everything”.
This was a very close game throughout, but the overall experience of the Ferris girls played a huge part in their victory. Kayla Sharp as a Freshmen, rose to the top leading her team in the final quarter with determination and an effect on her team unexpected to me as they do have more “veteran” guard play. She was the main cog in the half court offense in the final minutes, initiating sets and then finishing possessions with clutch free throws. It was impressive to see that. Megan Dean for North Central did not disappoint, she rebounded and pushed the ball up court always attacking the defense. Constantly got her hands on passes and forced jump balls. When I go watch this team, I try to see anything other than Dean (Casey Kiourkas and Morgan Smith definetley show some potential), but she wins me over every time as she seems to get better and more forceful each game I see her play. It just does not matter who she is going up against she will give a fight to the end with no breaks in the midst of battle. Needless to say Ferris finished the game with a barrage of trapping that the less disciplined NC girls could not handle and as the turnovers mounted, the final outcome was decided.
The Varsity Boys game finally arrived and although it brought together two of the leagues less prominent records it did not disappoint in talent. Ferris starts two Freshmen, Shamrock Campbell and Mike Erving– who leads the team in scoring through the first handful of games. Both of these kids are remarkable as Campbell has an ability to drive the ball and be unfazed by older players at the varsity level. Erving was an unforeseen weapon down low showing no lack of confidence to call for the ball on the block or the ability to attack the hoop and score, score, score! I believe he finished with 17 points again leading his team. On the North Central line is the always spectacular Riley Smith who may have the best handle in the league slashing through defenders en route to a dish or swish. He had more than enough highlight worthy plays in this game whether it be a behind the back dribble leading to a fast break layup or a dribble drive break down of his defender that gets finished off by his slashing sidekick Noah Higley. Speaking of Higley, he and Murphy Butte of Ferris are surely two of the more under rated players in the GSL today. Higley is athletic and a late bloomer for NC. If only he had another year to play to gain some confidence in his jump shot because with Smith they could become an even more dominant duo with their unequaled chemistry on the floor. Murphy Butte was kind of a no name last year on the Ferris squad that was loaded with seniors. This year he shows a disciplined game that brings a sweet jumper and a sense that he will shoot it everytime unless you close out properly. Something I noticed in his game that I absolutely love, was that when he catches a pass, he is ALWAYS catching with the intent to shoot. Not enough players do this as it forces the action and keeps a defender “on guard” at all times. He could be a great outside scorer and it has been showing up by his lines so far this season as he has not been under 11 points yet. He is a player to watch for sure as the next level could be calling his name next season. Ferris pulled off the “W” in very competitive game.