Now that that's out of the way let's get down to business. This game featured the matchup we've been waiting for since last season as the state's top two shooting guards regardless of class Southside's Robbie Dreher (2009) and J.L. Mann's Damien Leonard (2011) went at it. The two are very familiar with one another and in our previous interviews with both they were looking forward to the competition.
Robbie Dreher vs Damien Leonard
These two didn't match up one on one too much on Tuesday night. Both coaches chose to usually apply smaller/quick guards on both players. Southside put PG Chris Rhodes on Leonard and J.L. Mann put SG Khalil Goldsmith on Dreher. When Dreher and Leonard did draw one another there was no real definitive moment for either.
To be quite honest Damien Leonard didn't get a lot of quality touches throughout the contest. He put up 21 points and although Southside and everybody else in the gym knew he was their go to guy he never really got enough looks in our opinion. He started off slowly from outside but down the stretch he did manage to show us that beautiful jumper though. Another thing we noticed was Leonard's improved ballhandling. He said it was a point of emphasis this offseason and it has indeed improved.
Dreher continues to play like a man possessed. He showed his leadership and intensity in this contest and nobody was able to stop him. He has been primiarily known for his perimeter play but he went to the bucket time and time again either finishing or drawing fouls and getting himself to the charity stripe. There he's a very solid free throw shooter and he took charge down the stretch. Dreher has gotten stronger physically and he put in some work on the boards as well with 6'6 teammate SF Quinton Thomas out due to suspension.
We had Dreher down for 17 points in the first half and he poured in another 19 in the second half putting the exclamation point on the game with a dunk right before the final buzzer.
- There were a couple of college coaches in the building to check out Southside's Jamie Jones and Quinton Thomas. All were disappointed to find out that Thomas wouldn't be playing due to his suspension. Jones didn't play much and wasn't very effective in the minutes he did log. He's the biggest prospect in the state but he's going to need some work in the classroom we've been told and is also going to need to amp up his play on the court to land some offers.
- J.L. Mann's Brandon Boggs is a player who has a chance to land somewhere at least on the D2 level. He's got nice size (6'6) and plays pretty well on the wing. Displays good athleticism and shooting range. Given his matchup we'd like to have seen him take advantage of the absence of Thomas and post up some down low but that wasn't in the plan for the Patriots apparently. He's another player we'll keep tabs on to see how his game develops over the course of this season. Boggs finished the night with 14 points.
- Southside doesn't have the size in the paint they had last year with K.C. Chambers and Antonio Freeman graduating but Marlin Butler and Warren Franklin are both tremendous leapers and handle the ball well basically giving the Tigers 4 guards with center Will Hunt manning the paint. They are making it work but they will need to continue to gel and find a way to get points and production out of 6'10 Jamie Jones when he enters the game. Butler ended the night with 14 points and some key buckets to help fend off the Patriots.
- Considering the Tigers played without Quinton Thomas things look pretty good for them in their hopes of repeating for a AA state championship. The game marked his last game of the suspension so he'll be back in action during their next game.
- J.L. Mann PG DeVon Myrick has gotten bigger since the last time we've seen him. We're talking both in terms of height and muscle on his frame. He looked a bit tentative tonight and his jumper wasn't falling. We've seen this kid absolutely scorch the nets from outside during some previous games and camps so we'll keep a close eye to see if he bounces back.
- Some comments from the various college coaches and assistants in attendance about Robbie Dreher.
"We should've looked at him harder."
"How did we miss him? He's going to be a great fit for them."
"Winthrop got a good one. A real good one."
"He's gotten even better."
- The fire seemed to burn a little stronger than normal for Dreher tonight. He said he was waiting for this game as he was out during last year's 2 losses to J.L. Mann due to an ankle injury.
- J.L. Mann should bounce back pretty well. They have some really strong shooters on the perimeter headed by Leonard. They are one of the best shooting teams as a whole in the area it appears. They will have to find a way to create points from 15 feet and in though on a regular basis as the season starts rolling along.
We will have photo galleries and video highlights from the game so stay tuned to SCPrepNation.com as we are the #1 source for recruiting coverage concerning South Carolina's top high school basketball and football prospects!