The Skinny:

Asheville Christian clearly looked like the more experienced out of the gate jumping out to a 54-33 halftime lead largely due to the backcourt play from 6’4 2020 Tyler McKinney and 6’0 2019 Raishaun Brown.  They combined for 41 of their team’s 54 points at the break.  Hickory Grove Christian was led by 6’4 2021 AJ Smith had 17 at the break for his Hickory Grove squad, showing flashes of brilliance when getting downhill.  In the 2nd half, Hickory Grove started to lean more heavily on 6’8 2021 Jacori Owens.  The sophomore displayed excellent footwork on the block and great touch down low.  They narrowed it to an 11 point game early in the 4th, but it simply wasn’t enough as Asheville Christian escaped with a 80-73 win.

3 Stars of the Game:

6’0 2019 Raishaun Brown: Asheville Christian

Brown was lights out in the first half, giving his squad a nice cushion heading into the 2nd half.  He carried his performance through the break playing a controlled style, as his team held on to their lead, and started their season with a W.  He finished with 30 points, but what gets lost in translation is the level of comfort he provides his team and coaches with his presence on the floor.  D2’s should be all over the marksman as the season goes along.

6’4 2021 AJ Smith: Hickory Grove Christian

Smith was probably the best prospect on the court in the game, showing flashes of serious next level ability throughout the contest.  He was incredibly productive throughout with 17 in the first half and he finished with 29.  He’s going to really establish himself as one of the top guards in the 2021 class around the region, he already holds an offer from the hometown Charlotte 49ers.

6’4 2020 Tyler McKinney: Asheville Christian

McKinney has been on the Phenom staff’s radar since the middle of the summer when he was with Team Vision, showing tremendous progress in his already very solid game.  He’s shooting the ball from distance very efficiently (4-9 from 3) and finding a way to be productive on both ends of the court.  He’s a bonafide scholarship level kid that’s starting to stake his claim as a D1 prospect.  If he continues improving and producing, I don’t see why he can’t play at that level.