Alexander Hamilton (Wis.) junior forward Darnell Harris, who scored 18 and 13 points in the team's first two games against Socastee and Cedar Hill (Texas), respectively, played just eight first-half minutes Wednesday. Harris said the lack of playing time was attributed to a minor right knee injury he sustained against Cedar Hill.
Wildcats coach Tom Diener, however, said the benching was about attitude.
"We need him to play with a little more intensity and do the little things that it takes to win games, like rebound and play defense," Diener said. "He wasn't doing those things, so we had to sit him down. So hopefully, he'll come back and respond and get a little tougher and play a little tougher tomorrow. We don't know right now where we're at with him. It has nothing to do with any knee or injury; it has to do with playing the game the way we need to play it."
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Hamilton owned on the glass Tuesday against Cedar Hill. And for the first half against Concord, it looked like it was going to be much of the same. After getting outrebounded in the first half, the Wildcats turned that stat in their favor after halftime, eventually winning the battle 43-33.
And they did it with Harris sitting on the bench with his warm-up top never coming off.
"He's a heck of a player. He's been good all year. He's a valuable part of this team," Diener said. "But he wasn't playing the way he normally does last night and today. He's a young kid, and part of our job as high school coaches is to build character."
Those words were nothing his team hasn't heard already.
Before Wednesday's game, Diener pulled his team into one of the back corners of the arena. The coach got in the middle of the huddle and started screaming at his players about how basketball is a "character game."
Columbia (Ga.) reached the finals of the Beach Ball Classic by defeating its three opponents by a combined seven points. The Eagles defeated J.L Mann and Concord (N.C.) by three points each before rallying from down 10 to defeat Cedar Hill (Texas).
"It doesn't matter how we win," Columbia coach Phillip McCrary said. "I'd rather be blowing teams out, but this is the way we have been winning all year. We were at a tournament in Illinois and it was the same situation."
Mount Saint Joseph coach Pat Clatchey told 6-foot-6 senior Ryley Beaumont that the Amateur Athletic Union summer season was over after he missed a 23-footer just minutes into the game. Beaumont was settling for jump shots instead of taking the ball to the hoop - the most dangerous part of his game.
"It is something that I probably shouldn't have said and I hope I didn't offend anyone," said Clatchey, who was heard throughout the gym, "but I am old school and we aren't going to play this 'I'll let you get yours if you let me get mine' mentality.
"The kids don't play like they used to. In the summer if they are down 10 they will just give up because they know they got two more games that night and three the next day."
Clatchey's words sunk in for Beaumont - he netted nine first half points and 17 for the game. Beaumont collected several easy baskets inside before stepping out and draining his only other 3-point attempt midway through the second half.
"We made a couple of jumpers early and I got the misconception that it was OK to shoot from out there," he said. "But when we got some baskets inside that's when things open up on the perimeter."
No signs of rust
After being ruled ineligible for the 2008-2009 season, Scott County (Ky.) guard Tanner Shotwell has played very well for coach Billy Hicks this season.
Shotwell - who tallied 25 points on 8-of-14 shooting in three winner's bracket games - had to sit out his sophomore season after transferring from Lexington Christian Academy, where he played his freshman season.
According to Hicks, his 6-foot-4 wing was the only player ruled in ineligible in forty similar cases throughout the state of Kentucky last season.