Wright Plays Sparingly in Blowout Victory

BRISTOL, Tenn.--Brandan Wright chipped in on both ends of the floor early and watched most of the second half from the bench as his Brentwood Academy (Tenn.) Eagles teammates cruised to a 93-36 victory over the Twin Springs (Va.) Titans in the first round of the Arby's Classic.

It was over from the start. The Eagles used a 1-3-1 full court press to overwhelm the smaller Titans on the way to a 17-1 start, and it didn't get much better from there for Twin Springs.

"We just had a lot better players," said B.A. head coach George Pitts who expressed concern that all the holiday travel might take a toll on the team's energy. "We went to Florida on [Dec.] 16th, got back at noon on the 23rd, and then came here [Monday] morning [the 26th]. I was concerned about our physical and emotional state.

"I really thought that Twins Springs was better--and I think they are better. I think they just got shell-shocked early. Brandan can do that, but some of our other guys stepped up too. I thought we did a really nice job of guarding them, especially in the first half."

And guard they did. The zone press forced turnover after turnover and Wright spear-headed the Eagles' offensive attack with 10 points in the quarter on the way to a 33-9 lead at the end of the first period. He scored in transition, on post moves, on dunks, and one pull-up jump shot, all in the flow of the offense without dominating the ball in barely over five minutes of playing time.

"Coach Pitts expects a lot out of me both on offense and on defense," Wright said. "I don't force anything. I just let the game come to me. I can have a big night and that is cool with Coach Pitts, but we try to play team ball. I'm not trying to force things or be the star player or anything like that. I'm just going out there to play ball."

"He can do so many things," Pitts said. "It just depends on who we are playing as to what we need to do. We are going to get him the ball, but we didn't need to get him the ball tonight… If he needs to dominate, he'll dominate. He's had three triple-doubles in 11 games."

Wright played briefly in the second quarter and finished the half with 12 points (6-7 FG), four rebounds, three assists, three steals, and one blocked shot unofficially before the Eagles reserves finished out the second quarter on the way to a 52-11 halftime lead.

Wright played again briefly to begin the third quarter and scored six points for a total of 18 for the game before heading to the bench up by 48 points to watch his teammates cruise to a 93-36 victory.

The most impressive stat by Wright on the defensive end wasn't something that happened--it was what didn't happen. Wright was such an imposing presence on the interior that he was almost never challenged. When the Titans were able to break the press, they were content to shoot from the perimeter and managed a single field goal with Wright on the floor. It came at the 4:43 mark of the third quarter, just before the reserves replaced the starters.

"I wasn't aware of that stat," said Wright, "but my goal is to try to block a lot of shots and try to shut down the paint. If my teammates give up a drive, I'll be there to help them out to reject the shot. We try not to let people get to the basket, but I think I'm a good safety for the guys."

The game started with the seats filled to capacity (~6,000) and the fire marshal preventing any additional entry. There were not a lot of fans from Nashville, but Carolina blue peppered the stands and began moving closer to the court as the attendees began to leave late into the night.

"I noticed a lot of people wearing Carolina blue, Carolina T-shirts, hats, wristbands, all that stuff," Wright said. "I'm happy for the support I'm getting all over the state and the country. I'm thankful. There are not a lot of fans traveling from Nashville, so we can use the extra help."

Brentwood Academy will return to tournament action again on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. against the Keenan High School (Columbia, S.C.) Raiders.

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