A night removed from scoring a career-high 43 points in a win vs. Independence, West senior guard Charles Holland would need another dominant performance to take down the red hot Eastmoor Academy Warriors. Despite Holland's game-high 30 points, Eastmoor would secure its fourth-consecutive City-League South victory, winning on the road 79-69.
Behind senior forward Nate Jameson's 21 points, Eastmoor held off the surging Cowboys in a fast-paced second half. Enjoying a 27-19 rebounding advantage, Eastmoor's trio of lengthy forwards, Jameson, senior Shamonty Manning and junior Khalil Wade, each had productive evenings to pace the Warriors to 5-0 on the season.
As the game got off to a slow start, Eastmoor took control in a sluggish first quarter, leading 12-9 behind six points from Jahmal Hughes. As West's superstar Holland found his rhythm in the second quarter, consecutive threes from junior guard Jalon Lewis in the final minutes helped Eastmoor break the Cowboys' 2-3 zone, and head into the break with a 34-29 advantage.
Going into halftime with just 10 points, Holland picked up production in the final 16 minutes. Scoring half of West's total points as a team in the second half (20 points), Holland attacked the Eastmoor defense with an array of athletic drives to the rim, constant trips to the free-throw line, and a pair of three-point field goals.
As Eastmoor looked to pull away several times in the second half, Holland would simply not be denied, attacking the rim for controlled finishes and trips to the free-throw line. After a 43-point performance on Tuesday, and 30 points on Wednesday, Holland is now averaging a citywide-best 29 points per game on the season.
While fellow senior forwards Trenton Miller (13 points) and Markel Wyche (12 points) found their way to double-digit outputs, the Cowboys simply didn't have enough productive from Holland's supporting cast to pull off what could have been a major upset.
Getting as close as five points with 6:37 remaining in the fourth, West just could not find a way to capitalize whenever Eastmoor seemed to be vulnerable. As Hughes controlled the Warrior offense, Eastmoor continually went to Jameson and Manning in the final minutes to secure the win.
Finishing with 13 points, Hughes added 11 assists on the evening, while Manning pitched in 10 points. The lengthy junior forward Wade also scored in double-figures, going for 12 points, half of which coming from behind-the-arc. Sophomore forward Osaretin Onaiwu had a productive night off the bench, going for 10 points, the majority of which coming around the rim off pinpoint feeds from Hughes. Despite battling foul trouble the majority of the night, junior forward Lavoris Brown pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.
Eastmoor's perimeter defense and work on the offensive and defensive glass made a major difference in Wednesday's victory, and put to rest any thoughts of an upset. Through five games, Eastmoor has won close (66-65 vs. Westerville North) and won big (85-57 vs. Marion-Franklin, 75-34 vs. Briggs), proving that the Warriors can adapt to any situation thrown their way.
Following the loss, Holland and West looks to rebound in a road matchup at Marion-Franklin on Friday. Sitting at 3-3 on the season, a road win over Marion-Franklin on Friday would be huge for a West program that has risen from the doldrums. Going 4-38 in the previous two seasons, coach Orlando McCoy has quickly turned around the Cowboys, and the senior Holland is a huge reason for it.
With the win, Eastmoor heads into a highly-anticipated home matchup with the rebounding Africentric Nubians on Friday. After four consecutive losses to open the season, Africentric has roared back in wins vs. Independence and South. Falling one game behind the Nubians for a City-League South title a season ago, Friday's matchup has a bit of a revenge factor, as Eastmoor could potentially take Africentric out of championship contention with a victory.
Mid-Week Top Performers
After a wild night of basketball on Tuesday, complete with several 40-point performances from the state's best prep hoopsters, it is time to recognize several of Ohio's top performers from early this week.
Omari Spellman (6'7 PF / North Royalton / 2016):
Matched up with Ohio State signee Dave Bell in a hostile environment at Garfield Heights on Tuesday, Spellman turned in arguably his best performance of his young career. Going for 40 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks, Spellman outperformed Bell, who finished with eight points, but North Royalton would fall to Garfield, 69-54. Averaging 30 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks thus far in his sophomore season, Spellman is making a case to be considered as Ohio's top prospect in the 2016 class. With monster performances night after night, the skilled 6'7 forward is raising eyebrows among coaches all over the country.
Charles Holland (6'4 SG / Columbus West / 2014):
Scoring 73 points in a 24-hour span, the "Great West Side Hope" Holland has raced out to a monster start to his senior season. Averaging 29 points per game, Holland has been the top player on the floor in each game he has played in, and has helped lead West to a 3-3 record. After going winless in his sophomore season, Holland has helped turn around a program that enjoyed great success in the late 1990s and early 2000s. With incredible quickness, elite body control, and superb athleticism, Holland would be an absolute steal for a Division-I program looking for a high-scoring combo-guard.
K.T. Taylor (6'2 SG / Cleveland East Tech / 2014):
The reigning Senate Athletic League MVP, Taylor has been an absolute terror in the Cleveland area thus far in the 2013-14 season. Scoring a game-high 40 points in a win over Cleveland MLK on Tuesday, Taylor led East Tech to its fifth-consecutive victory in a season with high expectations. Averaging 31.6 points per game, Taylor is arguably the top senior guard in the Cleveland area at the moment, and looks to lead East Tech to a Senate League championship.
Check out some of Taylor's highlights from his junior season below, courtesy of 3rd Coast Hoops.
David Dennis Jr (6'1 SG / Columbus Harvest Prep / 2015):
Leading Harvest Prep to a 7-1 record, Dennis has been on an absolute tear thus far in a successful junior season. Rolling to an 89-57 win vs. Columbus Patriot Academy on Tuesday, Dennis' 41 points were a state-high. A week after being named one of the Columbus Dispatch's top performers, Dennis continued his hot streak in the win vs. Patriot Academy. In wins vs. Mount Gilead Christian and Fisher Catholic a week ago, Dennis combined to score 63 points, pull down 15 rebounds and dish out 14 assists. Transferring from Hilliard Darby, keep an eye out for Dennis and Harvest Prep this season.