What's hoopening, people? Get it, happening, hoopening? Yessir, the kind of brilliance you can only find here at Morning Meanderings, where coffee and a cranberry Christmas bagel fuel the machine.
You know the drill: firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow me at @JohnnyHomeTeam
Here's some notes, observations and a look at Friday's slate of can't-miss games, unless you have to shoot video at the Robinson playoff football game, in which case you will miss the games. But you shouldn't. Just sayin'.
Can we start things off with an Alumni Dunk O' The Night? Well, yes we can. Devontae Morgan, right here:
PLAYER OF THE NIGHT
We've mentioned Anton Crutcher before, but apparently the first-year East Bay junior forward has decided to get his name into Meanderings every. single. morning.
So, coming off his best game of season, here's the top five most impressive things about Crutcher:
1. He has scored more points than the previous game every time out this season, with games of 6, 14, 19 and 26, in order.
2. His 26 points Wednesday night in a 74-46 win over Durant is a career-high.
3. He hasn't missed a free throw all season. In 15 tries, Crutcher has nailed every one.
4. He blocked seven shots and had eight steals against Middleton in a game this season.
5. Though only 6-foot-3, Crutcher pulled down 22 rebounds Wednesday, the most I've seen anyone in Tampa Bay grab in a single game this season. The kids call that BEAST MODE, if I'm not mistaken.
Strawberry Crest's 5-foot-11 junior Aliyah Gregory says, via Twitter, that she's four points shy of 1,000 for her career. Considering she is averaging 23.8 a game this season, we suspect she'll hit that milestone in the first few minutes of Friday's game against King. So in advance, congratulations.
Gregory will become the second Charger this week to get to 1,000. In the boys win over Sickles this week, senior guard Devin Diggs eclipsed the the 1K barrier as well.
TWEET OF THE NIGHT
Frank LaRosa, East Bay football coach, @EB_CoachLo: I've been talking about Anton for a while! He's a very smooth athlete, football too...Great kid!
EIGHT BOYS BASKETBALL GAMES YOU SHOULD TRY TO GET TO FRIDAY NIGHT:
1. Gibbs vs. Lakewood at Eckerd: This one's so popular they have to play it in a college gym. Gibbs has been led in scoring by Shaquille Speights and Barry Brown, and inside they boast big boys Undrea Bullard (6-foot-7), Davarus Clark (6-9) and Sajon Ford (6-9), while Lakewood is still without injured center Jacobi Boykins. I always get a kick out of this game, because Anthony Lawrence and Barry Brown were best friends and high school teammates for some great Lakewood teams in the mid-1980s, and their sons of the same name are now on opposite sides of the court, the younger Lawrence for Lakewood and Baby Brown for Gibbs.
2. Boca Ciega at St. Petersburg: Doubtful you can find a game that will have more talent, more length, more speed and better outside shooting on the floor than this one. Michael Clark is coming off a 25-point game for the Pirates, and the game before that it was Dallas Moore with 33. The Green Devils beat Seminole Tuesday night, but the Warhawks were missing their leading scorer, so this will tell us more about St. Petersburg.
3. Wharton at Plant: One of the area's hottest rivalries, these two split a pair of regular-season games last year before Wharton took the district final. The Wildcats have been led in scoring by a different guy in each of the past three games -- Sir Patrick Reynolds, CJ McGill and Chase Litton -- and the defense has been solid. The Panthers have rebounded from that embarassing season-opening loss to Jesuit to win three straight (heading into Thursday night's game against Steinbrenner.
4. Wiregrass at Chamberlain: The two heavyweights in Class 7A-9 will tangle, and the Bulls have some unfinished business. Two of Tampa Bay's premier scorers, Wiregrass' Rico Kerney (24.5 a game) and Reggie Hart (a career-high 40 against the Bulls in the district final last year), will square off in a potentially high-scoring affair.
5. Countryside at Clearwater: Are the 4-0 Cougars for real? They play in one of the toughest districts around, and are already 2-0 in league play. But with Seminole, St. Petersburg and Clearwater on the schedule, can it last? The Cougars' Darnell Lovett, brother of current Florida Gator Michael Frazier, has been a revelation, as has Clearwater sophomore Rasim Avmet, and both are among the county scoring leaders. If the Tornadoes get past Largo tonight, this will be a matchup of unbeatens.
7. Eustis at Nature Coast Tech: The Class 5A-7 favorites square off. The Sharks, a final-four team last year, are 5-1 behind Rohan Blackwood (team-leading 16 points and 14.3 rebounds a game) and Carlos Clemete, coming off a career-high 22 in a win over Mitchell.
8. Brandon at East Bay: The Indians are the real deal, and for the Eagles this will be their first true test after rolling through the early, and easiest, part of their schedule. East Bay could have its hands full down low with Brandon's 6-foot-8 forward, Roderick Davis, but the bigger battle could be in the backcourt between Indians point guard Jonathan Jean and Eagle senior Avery Bolton.