With it being the final week of the Sunshine Independent Athletic Association (SIAA) and no FHSAA playoff games on the calendar, we took a drive from the Source Hoops Hacienda up to The Rock School to watch the host Lions take on Potter’s House Christian Academy out of Jacksonville. We hadn’t seen either team since the very first week of the SIAA season back in November and both teams had some personnel “upgrades” that we were excited to see.
It was Senior Night at The Rock. The Lions celebrated their three seniors, meaning they each got a start that only one of them, T.J. Hurley, usually gets. Potter’s House took advantage right away. If it wasn’t 7’0 senior Christian Richardson dominating around the rim, it was either 6’6 senior Elijah Mahi attacking the basket or 5’9 senior Bennie McDuffie terrorizing the defense in transition. Potter’s House built a 10-0 lead in rather short order. After about three minutes, The Rock coaching staff had seen enough and subbed in the usual starters. Things improved immensely for The Rock at that point. They finally got on the scoreboard and trailed 18-7 with thirteen minutes left in the first half. Over the three minutes, The Rock ripped off an 11-4 run to draw within four and ultimately tied the game at 27-27 shortly after the midway media timeout at the 7:35 mark of the first half. The pacing quickened from there. The Rock was knocking down threes at an alarmingly high rate, while Potter’s House was unable to match that kind of accuracy. By the time the first half rolled around, The Rock led by eight, 53-45.
We thought it would be unrealistic to expect either or both teams to continue their respective high level of play on the offensive end in the second half. The Rock did its part, outscoring Potter’s House 19-6 over the first five minutes of the period to push its advantage to 72-51. At the nine minute media timeout, The Rock led by twenty-two, 84-62, and it looked like the host Lions would run away with the game. However, this is the SIAA and with a thirty-five second shot clock and talent on every team, no lead is ever truly safe. Over the next four minutes, Potter’s House came alive, putting together a 17-5 run and reducing the lead to just ten, 89-79. After the team’s traded three point shots, The Rock put the game out of reach with a flurry that gave them a 100-85 lead with just two minutes to play. That fifteen point margin would hold up with the final score being 108-93. It wasn’t a matter of poor defense; it just that both offenses were REALLY good!
Moses Horne, a 6’2 junior, led The Rock with 25 points. He got into a rhythm early and finished 6-8 from behind the arc. Sammie Yeanay, a 6’9 sophomore that came in during the Christmas break, was impressive in scoring 20 points. We’ve known him to be a dominant post presence but he showed some solid perimeter skills when attacking the basket and either scoring or finding teammates for open shots. Kamerin Wright, a 6’5 sophomore, added 17 points. An athletic slasher, he has become a potent three-point shooter and continues to excel as a defender and threat in transition. Hurley added 14 points and the Canadian proved to be much more than a catch-and shoot specialist as he had more than his share of drives and dishes. Dallas Jones, a 6’5 junior, may have only played the first half due to back issues but he scored 9 points using his strength and solid frame to own the glass on the offensive end and score thru contact in traffic. Evan Sterck, a 6’2 freshman and older brother Jacob Sterck, a 6’5 junior, contributed 8 and 7 points respectively. Jacob is a deadly perimeter shooter while Evan is super solid at the point guard spot. Maybe the best story of the night was the play of 6’2 senior Alex McCray. There was a concern that he wouldn’t play basketball this season due to an auto accident in the late summer/early fall. However, in his first and only game of the season, McCray not only contributed six points but also three steals and two assists.
Potter’s House was led by Mahi with 21 points. He is a point-forward that makes great decisions with the ball, scores well at the basket in traffic, and is quick to rebound the ball and push it up the floor in transition. McDuffie was clearly the catalyst for Potter’s House not only with 16 points but several passes that led to easy baskets for teammates. He’s very quick, has a high basketball IQ, and makes the game easier for teammates and tough for opponents. Richardson, had 10 points, all in the first half. He admittedly struggled to adapt to the fast pace of the game and a few easy baskets ended up as turnovers. Still, his potential is not something to be brushed off. If he could somehow get a prep year in and then down the road a redshirt season in college, Richardson could take advantage of the extra time to strengthen his body, gain additional coordination and get used to a faster paced game. With his size, length, and athleticism, it wouldn’t surprise if he gets paid to play this game when it is all said and done.