Redhawks confident heading into playoffs
Monroe High's boys will enter the 1A basketball playoffs brimming with confidence after winning the Rocky River Conference title on their home court.
The Redhawks have now won nine straight after holding off Cuthbertson for a 56-52 win in Friday's final.
Monroe has won 14 of its last 15 games to improve to 21-4. Beating a powerhouse program like Cuthbertson for the second time this season gives the red-hot Redhawks even more momentum heading into Monday's first round of the playoffs.
"It's a good motivating factor going into the playoffs," said Monroe coach Johnny Sowell, who led his team to the 1A state title in 2010.
Monroe's Quay Chambers, a 6-3 senior, started at power forward as a freshman on the 2010 team.
Chambers now plays center for the Redhawks, who overcome their lack of size with a steady diet of drives to the basket and 3-point makes.
Dikembe White, Garry Parker, Jaylan Barbour and Brandon Roddy combined to make 12 of Monroe's 13 3-pointers in a semifinal win over Piedmont on Thursday.
"We had four guys shooting with confidence (Thursday)," Sowell said. "Dikembe got his stroke back. He didn't have it and he got it back at the right time."
White averaged 19.3 points per game in the tournament, including 22 in the win over CHS.
Defensively, the Redhawks compensate for being small by using their athleticism to keep pressure on the ball on play the passing lanes.
Most players don't throw the ball inside even if they have a big man, so their isn't much penalty for being short in the post.
And because the 3-point shot is so popular, the long rebounds that come off actually favor the quicker Redhawks — who often turn them into fast-break opportunities.
The Cavaliers have been playing without their best player, junior point guard Shelton Mitchell (knee injury), but Sowell felt they were playing some of their best basketball of the season without him.
"We feel like their ball movement has been better without Shelton and we talked to our guys about that before the game," Sowell said. "They've been playing very well without him."
Mitchell, who has already committed to Wake Forest, fits the modern mold of a scoring point guard.
But there can be a downside to having a superstar, because sometimes his teammates end up standing around and watching him too much.
The Cavaliers finished second in the 2A playoffs last year, and are on a mission to win it all this year.
They can only do that if Mitchell's knee is healthy, and if the guys who have raised their level of play in his absence continue to stay aggressive.
Chitwood's contributionIt was a shame to see Cuthbertson senior shooting guard Zach Chitwood go down with a knee injury in the late stages of a blowout win over Forest Hills in the semifinals.
Chitwood has been starting in Mitchell's absence, and emerged into a weapon on the 3-point line.
Chitwood was seconds from checking out of the game for the last night when his knee gave out Thursday night.
The Cavaliers are still waiting to find out the extent of Chitwood's injury, but he didn't dress out for Friday's final and his career could be over.
With Mitchell and Chitwood sidelined, the Cavs are thin. They played eight in the title game, but went with a six-man rotation for most of the night.
Even with their injuries, the Cavs still have a very good backcourt with Emmitt Afam playing point guard and Cornelius Stradford at two guard.
Afam is a four-year starter who can play either guard spot and Stradford has averaged 15.5 points in the last two games. Both are also excellent defenders.
Salute to the Spartans
After losing almost all of their offense from last year's conference championship team, this looked like a rebuilding year for Sun Valley's boys.
Instead, the Spartans won a share of the Southern Carolina Conference regular-season title for the third year in a row, and repeated as league tournament champs.
The Spartans sputtered early with a 1-3 start, but have won six straight and nine of their last 11 to improve to 17-8.
Sun Valley emerged as the best team in the SCC despite losing all three double-digit scorers, and that's the sign of a successful program.
"We didn't want to settle on making it to the championship game," Spartans coach Keith Mason said. "We want to prove to everybody we were capable of winning it. We wanted to make a statement."
— E-J correspondent Ash Hutto contributed to this story
Friday's late box scores
SCC title games
Sun Valley boys 70, Anson 43
BJ Tyson 6 2-3 15, William Smith 4 0-0 11, Stephen Minter 3 1-4 7, Darren Murray 1 1-2 4, Devonta Teal 3 0-0 6, J'Main Harris 0 0-0 0, Jaquailin Roberson 0 0-0 0, Terrill Tillman 0 0-0 0, Ray Davis 0 0-0 0, Alphonzia Hill 0 0-0 0, Triston Starling 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 4-11 43.
Sun Valley (17-8)
Kendall Ratliff 5 7-13 17, Hakeem Polk 5 2-6 10, Kevin Saxton 5 1-1 11, Isaiah Blanchett 3 0-0 6, Jacquez Johnson 4 1-3 9, Daquan Moody 2 2-2 7, Tony Williams 2 0-0 4, Ty Thompson 0 2-2 2, Malcolm Cumberbatch 1 0-0 2, Jimmy Hudgens 0 0-0 0, Justin Miller 0 0-0 0, Ty Perry 0 0-0 0, Justin Miller 0 0-0 0. Totals 27 15-27 70.
Anson^7^12^16^8 - 43
Sun Valley^18^17^17^18 - 70
3-pointers: A 5 (Smith 3); SV 1 (Moody). Rebounds: A 30 (Minter 14, Tyson 10); SV 39 (Polk 8, Saxton 8). Assists: A 7 (Tyson 6); SV 13 (Saxton 6). Steals: A 5 (Tyson 4); SV 7 (Saxton 4). Blocks: A 4 (Minter 2); SV 5 (Blancheett 3)
Porter Ridge girls 55, Weddington 42
Stephanie Watts 3 7-9 13, Jada Craig 3 0-0 6, Bailee Carter 2 2-2 7, Kelsie Croal 4 0-0 8, Olivia Jenkins 2 0-0 4, Melanie Wierzbicki 2 0-3 4, Molly Mann 0 0-0 0, Emily Schill 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 9-14 42.
Porter Ridge (22-3)
Jada Huntley 4 9-10 18, Jasmine Huntley 5 2-6 14, Kara Cunningham 2 0-0 4, Justice McKinney 1 0-0 2, Bobbie Jones 1 5-11 7, Jade Jones 3 2-2 8, Meghan Madanski 1 0-0 2, Hannah Smith 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 18-29 55.
Weddington^8^15^4^15 - 42
Porter Ridge^4^11^18^22 - 55
3-pointers: W 1 (Carter); PR 3 (Jas. Huntley 2, Jad. Huntley). Rebounds: W 29 (Watts 12, Carter 6); PR 37 (Jones 10, McKinney 9). Assists: W 9 (Craig 5); PR 6 (Jad. Huntley). Steals: W 8 (Watts 2, Craig 2, Croal 2); PR 15 (Jas. Huntley 3, McKinney 3). Blocks: W 6 (Watts 3); PR 3 (Jad. Huntley, McKinney, Jones).