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Tuesday night Calvary Day opened up post season play against a very scrappy Cary Christian group.

Winston Salem, North Carolina- The Cougars used a nice fourth quarter run due to some amped up defensive efforts and hot shooting, to pull away firmly in this contest. Calvary has a veteran core and this group as a whole played one of the toughest slates in the entire state, the team has pretty much seen it all at this point in the season.

https://youtu.be/nqzqfENCAg4

Throughout this contest they never looked panicked, the Cougars continued to stay poised and make plays.

“We told the guys the records were 0-0 now, everything up to this point doesn’t matter, it’s about surviving and advancing now.”- Head Coach Joe Rybak.

Cary Christian pushes this group at times, they exposed some defensive lapses early on, and proved unafraid to bring the fight to Calvary in an hostile environment. In the end this group just didn’t have quite enough fire power to contend for four quarters.

Standouts-

6’3 2019 Jackson Gammons (The Citadel commit), Gammons has been the selfless leader for this group a couple years now, Gammons is an athletic three level scorer, capable of sliding into either backcourt spot. Gammons stamped this game and showed he was the best player on the floor. Gammons got everywhere he wanted on the floor, some early shots rimmed out but Gammons successfully created separation and got to his spots often.

Gammons was streaky from behind the line, the Knights were late at times on rotations and Gammons made them pay. Gammons also worked to get his guys involved and going, when he needed to slide off Ball Gammons flourished next to point guards Jaeden Lanning and James Wilkins.

Speaking of point guard play we have to speak about 5’10 2019 Jaeden Lanning (Pfiefer signee), who really seemed to break the game open with his shooting ability. Lanning provided a big spark for this offense at periods when the Cougars went cold, Lanning played on both ends like it could be his last game. Lanning’s scoring ability and defensive presence on the perimeter could be vital against Hickory Grove’s guard heavy lineup.

Like Gammons, Lanning has been through the trials and tribulations, he’s battled on some of the big stages this is nothing new. Lanning will have to continue to help lead a hungry group, that truly believes in one another.

6’1 2022 James Wilkins III, everyone on staff and player wise I spoke to lit up about the play, of the freshman point guard Wilkins. There is a play in the video above where Wilkins makes a full court chest pass, and hits teammate Cliff Harris (Guilford College signee), in stride for a transition lay up. Wilkins is in his second year of varsity action and looks very comfortable.

“I was doing this last year on varsity too, so I’m used to it.” Wilkins said.

Wilkins emergence this season has given this team an extra element in the backcourt, with Wilkins Lanning and Gammons can play off ball when needed. Wilkins also has the scoring arsenal to get his when defenses collapse on these guys, all three guards are interchangeable parts. Wilkins is mature beyond his years, he really controlled the tempo in this game. Wilkins made some tough shots early on to get going. Wilkins also came up with some tough rebounds, and forced several turnovers on the defensive end. It was a complete game for him. This group will need the same effort in round two.

Cary Christian-
I want to point out 6’2 2020 Luke Edwards the floor general for the Lions, Edwards had the ball on a string, he had some flare in his dribble and really initiated the flow offensively for the lions. Edwards made some tough contested shots off the dribble, and he also got guys like 6’2 2019 Walker Grove (20 pts) and 6’3 2020 Clark Alford (16 pts) going as well. Grove and Edwards were a formidable backcourt, Grove’s presence allowed Edwards to move off ball at times and move more freely.

The Lions offense was noticeably stagnant when Edwards and Walker weren’t on the floor. Both these guys shot the ball well, and constantly created activity at the cup with back door cuts. These guys connected on a crispy executed lob as well, the chemistry was evident.

Alford really opened up the floor up and provided spacing with his shooting ability, Alford was active on the block as well he utilized the back to the basket game against smaller defenders and Alford flashed a nice fade-away in the highlights above. Alford played bigger than 6’3.

Looking ahead- Calvary will take this show on the road and take on Hickory Grove (14-14,4-4), in Charlotte. They will be forced with containing one of the best shooters in the state in 6’5 2019 sniper Reign Larson.

Aside from the mentioned, the Cougars will need the same efforts from guys like 2020 6’5 CJ Smith and 2021 6’6 Owen Gullege. This team has the depth and talent to survive and advance!