|GAIS's "Tall Task"|
GAIS's first stop was three hours away from home at the Crusader Classic, hosted at Faith Baptist Christian Academy in Ludowici, Georgia. The tournament was the first of many chances for the team to play prep/independent schools. Prep school teams are different from traditional high schools because many of the players are graduated from high school and pursuing a college basketball destination. Independent schools of the type at the Crusader Classic generally recruit players from a wide geographic radius.
Keep reading for the complete story as well as game and player highlights!
In a 25 hour time period beginning Friday morning, GAIS played three games against very talented teams and players. The following is a summary of the games:
The Rock 87, GAIS 55 (9 A.M. Friday)
After GAIS stayed within striking distance into the second half, the Rock's balanced and disciplined attack overwhelmed the Augusta based squad. Center Joel Embiid, a future Kansas Jayhawk, attracted lots of attention, freeing up perimeter players Pape Diatta, Christain Benson, and Mitchell Wilbekin to drain a combined 8 three pointers.
After trailing 11-0 early, GAIS guard Austin Crown quickly scored 13 points to reduce the deficit to 21-15 at the end of the first quarter. But despite Crown's 30 points, GAIS was unable to figure out how to stop the 6'11" Embiid and the hot shooting of the Rock's perimeter group. See highlights (above) from the game. And watch GAIS's Austin Crown directly below.
Potters House 78, GAIS 68 (4 P.M. Friday)
GAIS was much more competitive versus Potters House than the team had been versus The Rock, but 7'0" center Akolda Manyang proved to be too much for the smaller GAIS squad to contain. Manyang scored 27 points in the game. The highlights below show the center's dominance over the smaller GAIS defenders, but it is also clear that Manyang is a savvy player who is mobile and skilled around the basket.
GAIS guards Austin Crown and Matt Miller scored 26 and 20 points respectively in the losing effort. Highlights from Miller's performance can be found directly below.
Kingdom Prep 72, GAIS 44 (9 A.M. Friday)
GAIS's first opponent, The Rock, may have been the most complete and most disciplined team at the Crusader Classic. But its last opponent, Kingdom Prep, was probably the most talented. Lemarcus White, a highly regarded 6'9" senior post player, scored 21 points in the victory. But we have to mention and highlight the Kingdom Prep player who kept the Crusader Classic crowd buzzing for most of the tournament, 6'0" guard Evan Payne. Payne, highlighted below, is a very good shooter and a solid defender. But his athletic ability left the biggest impression on the observers in attendance. Watch the highlights below to see what all the fuss was about!
GAIS 65, Spring Valley 58 (7 P.M. Saturday)
After being winless in its first three games of the weekend, GAIS captured a victory against Spring Valley High School of Columbia, South Carolina, Saturday evening in the Hoops Preview high school scrimmage event at Evans High School. The win was noteworthy because Spring Valley is a highly regarded team that features sophomore PJ Dozier, who is being recruited by some of the nation's biggest college programs. But the most impressive feat was probably the fact that this game was GAIS's fourth in 36 hours. And the game came after a 6 hour round trip to and from Ludowici.
Once again, GAIS was led by Matt Miller (23 points) and Austin Crown (20 points). But Dominic Brown, TJ Massenburg, and Paul Jones also made significant contributions, especially during the game's final stretch. Brown scored all 6 of his points in the final minutes. And Paul Jones made back-to-back three pointers in the final two minutes to give GAIS the lead for good. Watch the highlights below to see the action from Evans.