Gold prep
splits games
The National Prep Showcase Tournament is a bit of a conundrum for coaches.
It’s known in athletic circles as a “trap game” or in this case, games.
The tournament is held on the weekend before the beginning of Thanksgiving break for most prep basketball players.
“Any time you have a game coming up before break, it’s a challenge because the kids have one foot out the door and one foot on the banana peel. They can either slip and do something really great or fall right out because they are ready to go home,” said Woodstock Academy coach Jacque Rivera.
The Centaurs experienced a little of both.
They came back from a tough loss to Hargrave Military Academy in their first tournament game Nov. 22 to post a 68-63 win over Mount Zion Prep Nov. 24.
“Our kids were resilient with break coming up and coming off the loss on Friday with one day to prepare. It was a complete team win,” Rivera said.
The win raised the Centaurs record to 7-1.
Now, they get to enjoy break.
The Woodstock Academy prep team players have not been home since Aug. 24.
They are now off until Dec. 4 when they travel to Redemption Christian Academy.
The Gold squad came out against Maryland-based Mount Zion on a mission.
Rivera switched up his starting lineup, going with Ronnie DeGray, Cairo McCrory, Dyondre Dominguez, Chad Venning and putting Joe Moon back in as a starter.
They built a 21-point lead in the first half and had a chance to run away with the contest.
“I thought we shared the ball unbelievably, even with all the college coaches that were watching. We talk about the best shot in basketball being the open shot and the ball really moved from side-to-side, just like windshield wipers,” Rivera said.
The Woodstock Academy coach had seen those in action Nov. 24, too, as the drive to New Haven and back was hampered by heavy rain.
The Centaurs also had the services of Michael Jefferson.
The native of Waco, Texas, missed the game with Hargrave after getting hit just below the eye in practice Nov. 21. He had to go for stitches and was not ready for action Nov. 22.
He made all four of his 3-point attempts against Mt. Zion and led the Centaurs in scoring with 14 points.
“I thought he didn’t settle. I thought he made shots. He was very good on the backboard. He gives us another guy. If basketball has six people starting, he would be a starter for us,” Rivera said.
Mount Zion did rebound from the early deficit to trail by only 12, 37-25, at the end of the first half.
Mount Zion outscored the Centaurs, 38-31, in the second half, but never could take the lead against the Centaurs.
McCrory chipped in with another solid effort, 12 points and seven rebounds.
“We’ve started calling him ‘Mr. Get’ because Cairo just gets it done. You look at the stat sheet, you look at the rebounds, everything, he’s just a great kid. He just goes out and plays. He never complains about a call,” Rivera said.
Dominguez added 10 points in the win.
Hargrave Military was the aggressor Nov. 22.
The Southern Virginia team was dominant on the boards, especially off the offensive glass, and got numerous second-chance opportunities in its 89-72 win.
Hargrave Military did have the advantage of having a mobile 7-footer in Gabe Wiznitzer as well as length in the forms of Corey Walker and A.J. James.
“It was the first time that we had to compete against a team who competes on the backboard and takes away our ability to run. I think we got caught up in trying to run and leaving the ball. Credit them, they saw a chink in the armor,” Rivera said.
Hargrave Military opened up a double-digit first half lead, but saw the Centaurs close to within three on a basket by Jamon Kemp with 4 ½ minutes left in the first half.
Hargrave, however, went on a 15-4 run, powered by six Bryson Childress points, to take a 47-33 lead.
Hargrave Military expanded that lead to 20, 60-40, in the first four minutes of the second half.
‘I thought we had a lack of focus right from the jump ball. You don’t have a jump ball and give a guy a straight-line drive,” Rivera said.
The Centaurs allowed K.D. Johnson to do so and he scored two of his game-high 32 points.
“I don’t think it was a wakeup call because if the outcome was reversed, would we be saying we’re the best team in the country or would we be saying, we have to get better. I think we stand at those same points. We have to get better, get better at the little things and if we had won, it would be the same thing,” Rivera said.
Quinton McElroy led the Gold squad in the loss with 13 points while DeGray added 12, McCrory 11 and Quran McPherson 10.
Regardless of the results of the games, Rivera said it was nice to take part in the tournament.
“When you have an event like that and have an opportunity to watch some of your competitors from across the country, it’s good because it gives you the chance to see what you’re good at and this is where we have to continue to get better. We didn’t get a chance to see Hargrave live so we had to rely heavily on our colleagues and video and things like that. If we see each other again down the road, the outcome could change,” the Woodstock Academy coach said.
Marc Allard
Director of Sports Information
The Woodstock Academy


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