Sunday, November 23, 2014

Late-Game Heroics Stave Off Rally as Bedford Holds On

All pre-season, Bedford Academy's coaching staff implored Trevis Wigfall to develop a killer instinct and sustain it for four quarters.

A wiry 6-foot-2 combination guard with length and athleticism, Wigfall emerged into a late bloomer on the Division-II recruiting market.

The senior understands, however, the onus is on him to play with a scholarship-hungry savvy and show out during high-pressure junctures.

The focus can't falter.

Wigfall met his coaches' demands at the most opportune moment of Bedford's pulsating 62-58 win over much-improved Banneker at Thomas Jefferson's season-opening showcase tournament Saturday afternoon.

With under four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Wigfall took one demanding dribble, climbed the ladder and crunched a mean two-handed dunk amid contact.

The loudest play of a wild two-hour battle, Wigfall's dunk helped tame Banneker's furious second half rally.

The game intensified with plenty of extracurricular activity, shoving, trash talk, cold staredowns and increased physicality throughout the second half.

Junior guard Romello Ford drew an offensive foul at the other end, a crucial stop.

With 10.3 seconds remaining, Anthony Gibbs emerged with the game-sealing steal. The junior guard knocked back 1-of-2 at the free throw line, the final jab of a dizzying affair.

And to think it's only November...

Banneker clawed back from a 21-point halftime deficit, reeling off a 14-5 tear to kick-start the second half.

They killed off an early case of jitters, tying the game at 48-all on a long 3-pointer from Paris Roberts (17 points). Roberts, a senior captain and lead guard, was instrumental in sparking an improbable comeback bid.

Yet it was the perseverance of Bedford's guards which ultimately closed the deal.

Anthony Munson, displaying a sheer nose for the ball and athletic finishes, scored a game-best 20 points.

Munson navigated the pressure cooker, knocking back a pair of clutch free throws that gave Bedford a 56-54 lead.

Following a banker from Bannker's Tyrone Adeyeye, Bedford's Julius Blake drove baseline for a traditional 3-point play and a 61-58 lead.

It was only fitting the most thrilling game of a day-long event came down to Gibbs' pick-pocket.

The flaring tempers reached a breaking point with 3:53 remaining in the third quarter.

The refs and coaches from both squads squashed the rising tension.

 And while the beef simmered down, it all gave birth to a new rivalry.

Banneker emerged from the early rut by not only killing off early jitters but applying the same ingredients Bedford used to gain a 33-12 halftime bulge.

There was hiked up defensive pressure that closed the passing lanes.

There was pressure across all 94 feet of hardwood. There was pressing and trapping throughout.

A new-look Banneker team, under a first-year head coach who groomed an identical squad on J.V. two seasons ago, loosened up enough to creep back into the game.

The trio of Roberts, Adeyeye and 5-foot-9 junior guard Arnold Agard pumped resilience into a lineup that struggled mightily scoring the ball in the game's first 10 minutes.

 Roberts helped turn the game around with leadership leading the break. Banneker cranked up the pressure by triggering a spate of late turnovers.

The squad mastered the meshing experiment by competing as a team in various tournaments, including Bedford's own Scrimmage Wars at the Brookyln Dome this fall.

Bedford erupted in the first quarter. Munson found a seam and finished a high inbounds lob pass at the rim.

He followed that up by swooping in for a stick back.

Then, senior guard Ian Roach drained a corner 3-pointer as Bedford seized a 14-4 lead.

Bedford's lead ballooned to the 20s as Ford stuck a nifty floater off the dribble and Sam Mbaye converted a steal into a simple layin.

 Roach, now flushed into the role of senior leader, scored 18 points. Wigfall, who saw time at the point guard and is versatile enough to play 3-4 positions under head coach Rob Phelps, added 13.

Of course, none were bigger than an emphatic dunk that stuck a stake through the heart of Banneker's rally.

JEFFERSON 101, Edison 40: Bolstered by an uproarious home crowd, Jefferson shot an overmatched Edison club under the table with an early onslaught. Class of 2016 guard Shamorie Ponds scored 20 of his 22 points during an explosive first half.

 The crafty lefty, showcasing considerable range and a deft touch, canned six of Jefferson's 19 3-pointers. The Orange Wave overwhelmed Edison early, instigating a torrent of turnovers and piecing together a quick-paced catch-and-stick game.

They hit five of their first seven from beyond the arc. With the second team manufacturing offense at a torrid pace, the lead grew to 83-27 by the third quarter. Jefferson has perhaps the most across-the-boards talent since the likes of Joel "Air Jamaica" Wright, Keith Spellman, and Davontay Grace triumvirate of the 2008-09 season.