A pair of private school powers took to the court at Windermere Prep last night. Bishop McLaughlin was coming off a solid 2-2 record at the famed Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach. Those two losses were to a pair of nationally ranked clubs. Windermere Prep had faced some tough competition of its own, hosting the three-day Rock Holiday Classic. Both teams came into the game a bit short-handed. McLaughlin was missing 6’5 junior Anthony Davis as he was sitting out with a lingering thigh bruise while Windermere Prep was without 6’7 senior Gabe Ferguson who happened to be sporting a knee brace. Still, the show (or game) must go on.
In a bit of a surprise, McLaughlin opened up an early 7-0 lead as 6’5 junior Josh Watkins drained a three, 6’7 junior Dillon Mitchell put back his own miss and 6’4 junior Emanuel Sharp scored on a drive. Windermere Prep finally got on the board with a three-pointer from 6’0 senior Kaden Lucas. At this point, the Lakers of Windermere Prep were able to keep pace with B-Mc and with four minutes gone in the opening period the visitors led 13-7. That’s when the Lakers started finding 6’11 senior Elijah Hulsewe inside. He scored all seven of the team’s points in a quarter-ending 7-2 run to make it a one-point game, 15-14.
Windermere Prep scored on its first possession of the second quarter to take its first lead of the night, but even more impactful was that Mitchell drew his second foul of the game and ended up sitting out the rest of the period. Still, McLaughlin was able to get back and keep the lead for the next couple of minutes. The Lakers tied the game at 22-22 with just over five minutes to play in the half. B-Mc got some unexpected contributions from 6’6 junior Matthew Webster as he scored six points while Mitchell was on the bench. Windermere Prep ended up taking a four -point lead at 28-24 behind back-to-back threes from Lucas but McLaughlin dug in and didn’t let the game get away from them. At the half, Windermere Prep led by just three points at 32-29.
The Lakers were able to double their margin to six at 43-37 midway thru the third. Jayden Williams, a 6’4 junior, started to leave his imprint on the game. He connected on a three and hit a floater in the lane during this time, part of the nine points he would score in the quarter. Conversely, things continued to go south for McLaughlin in general and Mitchell in particular. He picked up his third foul with just under five minutes left in the third and returned to the bench for the remainder of the quarter. This time, Windermere Prep took full advantage of his absence, extending their lead into double-digits and ending the third quarter up ten at 50-40.
In the fourth, McLaughlin got into the bonus early and that changed things. Sharp started taking the ball to the basket, not only challenging Laker defenders, but also challenging the referees to call fouls. This plan worked and slowly McLaughlin chipped away at the lead. With just over two minutes to play, B-Mc was down six at 66-60 but at the free throw line with the chance to make it a four-point game. Alas, both shots were off-target and Windermere Prep scored at the other end. McLaughlin would not get a chance to get any closer and would ultimately fall by the score of 72-64.
Jayden Williams led Windermere Prep with 20 points. We’ve known him to be a solid perimeter shooter for some time but tonight he showed a bit more in the offensive toolbox. On a couple of occasions, he was able to get to the basket using some very quick change of direction dribbles. Williams also displayed some high-end leaping ability with the completion of a couple of lob plays as well as a ferocious dunk after stripping the dribbler at mid-court. If that type of play continues, his recruitment should get a boost.
Hulsewe ended the game with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Maybe more important, he was a perfect 6-6 from the foul line, a place he has struggled with before. On this night, he was just too big and strong for Bishop McLaughlin. He got good position in the lane and his teammates delivered the ball where he could use it. No, he didn’t make every shot and there were some surprising misses but Hulsewe has become adept at keeping the ball alive on the glass and getting more than his fair share of second chance opportunities.
For Bishop McLaughlin, Sharp led the way with 27 points, 17 in the final quarter. Despite Windermere Prep knowing he was going to drive the basket on nearly every possession in the period, the Lakers still couldn’t stop him, sending him to the line six times. Normally a reliable shooter from beyond the arc, he was just 1-10 on the night. Still, Sharp isn’t just some volume shooter. He logged five assists in the contest as he is a solid passer with good court vision and a high basketball IQ.
We were disappointed that Mitchell spent so much time on the bench in foul trouble. Still, he put together a respectable 10 points and 9 rebounds in a short amount of time. All of his points came at the rim and no jumpers were attempted. He is an impressive athlete with long arms that gets off the floor quickly for rebounds and to challenge shots.