BOYS– Initial thoughts going into this game were, Newport is Northeast A, St Georges is B, but the Dragons have the tradition of being a top B school in the state. So, I expected what the first quarter brought, a 13- 8 lead and a more talented StG team.
The Dragons began tough and active led by Junior Cade Peplinski. The 6-2 wing/post man is as active as any player I’ve seen. What I really like about Cade is his “constant”. His constant look for shots, constant looks for stealing opportunities, constant cutting, constant fight for rebounding position, hes constantly moving! The Dragons also became the sole proprietor of a sneaky little freshmen guard named Dan Rigsby. This young man was the first player off of the bench and showed something instantly. He’s quick, feisty, moves well on defense making use of his nimble feet and has a confidence that is not normally seen in freshmen. He’s small now, but trust me….. just watch this foal eat and he’s going to turn into a thoroughbred!
For NEWPORT– soon after I saw the early game jitters or unfolding if you will, I noticed Danny Bradbury (#44 in photo) relentlessly harassing St Georges leading scorer Erik Farias and turning him into a passer and forcing turnovers. With this he became more aggressive on the offensive side and attacked the basket numerous times with a nice left to right finish over Farias on one drive. This kid is a strong , athletic and young player that I think might LOVE DEFENSE…… huh?
Next up for the visiting Grizz was Koa Pancho (#10) as he began to control the tempo of the game. This junior has steady ball handling, not phased by the pressure, and you actually saw the Dragon defenders back off and let him bring the ball up as they looked a little intimidated. He spent most of the game facilitating and playing the perfect PG but soon began hitting threes and using his strength while taking advantage of his mismatches. He is very in tune with whats going on during the game. Later in the fourth quarter when the game was close he closed it out with rebounds and free throws.
One more gem I noticed for Newport was Adam Moorhead, a “looks like hes gonna be 6-5”, 6-1 Soph G/F. I see potential in this kid. Another wait and see….
This was our first chance to see “The Owner” Hailey Higashi after her knee injury last season. You can still see the player that owns the court and zips passes into holes to teammates while she continues to make her comeback.
As usual, the Lady Dragons have a bundle of talented players and should be a force throughout the season. Whats different from most seasons is that they have 4 freshmen with one of them making a GIGANTIC statement tonight, that goes by a name you should be familiar with. Bergquist….Lydia Bergquist. She came out of the chute stealing passes from the less experienced Newport girls and went coast to coast on one, went in with a euro-step and got fouled while putting in the two for a 3-point play on another. She crashes through players for loose balls, she hit threes including a 4 point play and basically dominated the first half. Another subtle note is that she was chosen to inbound the ball while on the court and only trusted players inbound the ball… Yeah I’m sold! Cant wait for the next 3 seasons. In a lopsided game she finished with 15 points. I’m going to save the rest of the wrecking crew (including twin frosh) for another time….
For Newport we saw a couple of things, unfortunately the inexperience and youth of the team as they start two SOPH guards, leads to their inability to handle full court pressure. However, sophomore Cyndi Lewis is a player who leads by example and will have a good career playing with an unassuming talent that keeps her in the game. Shes not flashy but is comfortable with the ball in her hands and able to put the ball where it needs to be while seeing the floor and feeling the game. She was causing problems on defense as well- making 2 sneaky steals from the previously mentioned more experienced and talented guards of St Georges. Along with her traits as a passer there is the potential of being a drive and kick creator for the 5-11 inside out Jr, Jocelin Nenema who looked like she has potential as a long range shooter with good form to be a knock down bomber. These girls will get better as the season goes on, assuming they stay away from the Lady Dragons, which is a smart take for most teams….
Coming off a season with zero wins last year North Central opened the season against 5th ranked Lewis and Clark. Those not familiar with the hard work being put in at NC expected a blowout. If you look at the score you might think it was a blowout. The game was much more competitive than the score reveals. NC started 2 Sophomores, 2 Juniors and one Senior (Brendan Duncan). Duncan is the only player that has started a varsity game. The Indians will need to rely on his experience early in the season while the younger players mature. When Duncan went down early with an ankle injury the younger players were forced to step up.