Prep Watch • Wilson and Grant lead a league where everyone's in the hunt
The PIL 6A boys basketball chase is starting to heat up.
Grant and Wilson are battling for the top seed, and Benson's skies have cleared, with the Techmen intact again and ready to compete with the Generals and Trojans. Lincoln and Franklin could compete for the third and final state playoff spot, as well.
'This league is the best it's been in a long time,' Grant coach Tony Broadous says.
This year, it will be very important to win the league. The No. 2 seed probably will have to travel to third-ranked South Medford in the second round and win there to reach the eight-team state tournament.
'That is not a fun trip,' says Wilson coach Scott Aker, whose Trojans went there for the playoffs in 2005-06 and were spanked 100-52.
Grant (3-1 league) came into the season as one of the most highly touted teams in the state, The Generals stumbled in recent, back-to-back double-digit losses to Jefferson and Benson.
'We went back and watched film and saw our mistakes,' Broadous says. 'We were taking some bad shots.'
On Friday, 6-1 senior guard Paul McCoy gave everyone in the PIL 6A a friendly reminder of why he is the reigning league player of the year. With his Generals trailing by double digits to visiting Wilson, McCoy put the team on his back and went off for a 41-point performance, 18 coming in the final quarter of the 76-69 win.
McCoy (19.5 points per league game), 6-8 junior wing Mike Moser (17.0) and 6-1 senior guard Michael James (9.8) are the Generals' top scorers this season.
Wilson (4-1) already has matched its league win total from last season and holds the early advantage in the standings. Leading the way for the Trojans are 6-1 senior guard Mario Gill (19.2 points), 6-7 senior post Darryl Finley (13.6) and 6-3 senior point guard Gage Aker (9.6).
'These kids go so hard in practice,' Scott Aker says. 'That's been a big reason for our success.'
Wilson and Grant will meet two more times -both at Wilson.
'We play pretty well on the road, so it shouldn't be too big a deal for us,' Broadous says.
One potential key for Grant -the Generals were leading Benson by 18 points at halftime of a game suspended earlier this month. If that game has any bearing on playoff seeding, it will be finished at the end of the regular season, starting where the teams left off.
Benson, back at full strength, showed what it could do last week, when Tech beat Grant 73-59 in the Martin Luther King Classic and 5A Marshall 88-70 on Friday.
'They're a tough matchup for anybody,' Broadous says of the Techmen.
Benson (1-3) is led by 6-2 senior guards Ameer Shamsud-din (21.6 points in three league games) and Jamar Johnson (36 points total in the two games last week).
Lincoln (2-3) has picked up wins over Benson and Franklin (1-3). The Cardinals' balanced scoring attack is led by 6-6 senior wing Harry Berendsen (14.6) and 6-3 senior guard Doug Rice (14.6).