Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wheeler wins Cobb County battle

And we are off. Wheeler and Whitefield Academy went at it in a scrimmage on Tuesday night at the Doug Lipscomb Gymnasium, officially tipping off the season for Georgia Hoops.

Wheeler took advantage of the Whitefield turnovers and dominated the second half to an 83-66 win over the class A powerhouse.

The Wildcats showed off a balanced attack with five players that scored double digit points. However, the question with Wheeler is never about offensive firepower. The top team in the state rolls out five Division I players to start the game. The most impressive thing from Wheeler was its ability to frustrate Whitefield defensively and forced an incredible amount of turnovers.

Miami bound senior Dequan Jones led the way for Wheeler, scoring 19 points (5-10 FG, 5-6 FT), eight rebounds, five steals and two assists. Sophomore point guard Phil Taylor did a good job of running his team and making an impact on defense. He scored 16 points, swiped six steals and handed out four assists.

Newcomers Tahj Tate and Richard Howell both made their presence felt. Tate, especially. The move-in from South Carolina was the biggest surprise of the game. He's athletic, quick with the ball, good on the defensive side of the ball and was consistent throughout. Howell finished with 13 points (3-10 FG, 6-6 FT), five rebounds and three steals.

Whitefield's Brandon Reed led all scorers with 24 points (9-16 FG). The 6-2 junior hit three three-pointers in a row in a minute and a half span in the middle of the fourth quarter to put a spark back into Whitefield but it wasn't enough.

Big man Colin Reddick, a 6-8 junior, was incredibly impressive. Known more as a defender, the big man scored 16 hard-earned points inside. He still maintained himself as the best interior defender in the game with six big blocks and six rebounds.

Wheeler and Whitefield, two of the top teams in Georgia, learned a lot about themselves in the game.


- The Wildcats have plenty of talent but finding the right way to use all of the parts is the key.

- Tahj Tate has a chance to be a very good player this season and could be the difference maker in the biggest games.

- Richard Howell and Ari Stewart can co-exist but the two will have to fill each other out more. Howell does his best work five feet and in. Stewart must continue to improve his basketball IQ.


- Point guard needed. The Wolfpack forced the ball to places it just couldn't go. The team's success has predicated on a heady point guard in the past. Finding that guy this year is the key.

- Collin Reddick must continue his offensive game. He was impressive down low against a big, physical and athletic Wheeler bunch.

- Brandon Reed is the team's best offensive threat. He must establish himself early on the perimeter.

- How can they handle pressure? With a brutal non-region schedule ahead of them, it will be interesting to see where the calming force comes from.