Phenom Hoop Report travelled to Harrisburg, North Carolina to cover the Hickory Ridge High School open gym. Last year, Hickory Ridge finished .500 with a 13-13 record in one of the toughest basketball conferences in the state, the NCHSAA Southwestern 4A. Coach Robert Machado looks to improve upon that 7-7 conference record last season and has plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Hickory Ridge lost two players to the transfer market, but also benefited by picking up two gems as well in 6’7 2022 Shane Fernald and 6’4 2023 Caleb Foster. With the addition of Fernald and Foster along with returning players from last season, ( 6’3 2021 Daniel Lumbamba, 5’9 2022 Jordan Marsh, 6’3 2020 Kobe Clifton, 6’5 2021 Tucker Johnson, and 6’7 Zion Gunter) we honestly think Hickory RIdge could sneak up and surprise a lot of people this coming season. Now, let’s take a look at some of the impact players for Hickory Ridge.
6’4 2023 Caleb Foster
Coach Scott Fortune stated it best, “Caleb Foster is smooth, smart and skilled” and is definitely on our radar for the NC 2023 Watch List. We’re talking about a long and slender point guard that just doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He is poised beyond his years and from his play in open gym, he is going to be a major factor for Hickory Ridge. Foster brings a cool and calm approach and just has a very poised and mature game. Don’t be surprised if Foster ends up being one of the top players on the team and provides great floor leadership from the point guard position.
6’3 2021 Daniel Lumbamba (7.9 PPG)
Although Daniel Lumbamba is somewhat “raw” offensively, he will find ways to score, whether it is running the lanes in transition of fighting for loose rebounds on the offensive end of the court. That being said, we believe Lumbamba will be the “sleeper” player for Hickory Ridge. As a matter of fact, assistant coach Scott Fortune stated Lumbamba is the X factor. Lumbamba is extremely long, bouncy and has the ability to guard and defend all five positions on the court. He is that versatile on the defensive side of the ball and will be looked upon to be the team’s defensive stopper against the opposing team’s best and leading scorer.
5’9 2022 Jordan Marsh (12.2 PPG)
Jordan is super athletic and has the ability to dunk with both hands. He has a crazy bounce and isn’t bashful about showing off his elite level athleticism. Mars is a two-sport start and the southpaw definitely has range and has the athleticism and quickness to get to the paint with ease. Marsh is an ultra-quick guard that can make things happen on both ends of the court.
6’7 2022 Shane Fernald
Last season, Shane Fernald played for Mt. Pleasant and we look for him to be a major factor in the team’s overall success this coming season. We’re talking about a solid, sturdy and skilled “European type big.” We were impressed with his high basketball IQ, fundamentals, and most of all his passer friendly hands. Fernald does an excellent job of catching and making the extra skip pass to open teammates. In addition, Fernald just has a nice feel for the game, sets outstanding screens and is exceptional in the pick and roll and the pick and pop situation.
6’5 2022 Tucker Johnson
Every team needs a utility guy and Tucker Johnson is just that guy for Hickory Ridge. We’re talking about a strong, long armed rebounder that will do all the little things on the court, not to mention he has some good instincts in blocking shots. Coach Scott Fortune stated, “Johnson is a big time rebounder and will do whatever is asked of him.”
Hickory Ridge will look to improve upon their 13-13 record last season. Playing in one of the toughest and competitive basketball conferences in the state, Hickory Ridge will definitely have another challenging season, but we honestly become they will be the sleeper team in the Southwestern 4A. They have a nice blend of length, athleticism and skilled positions which should allow them to make some noise. The key is to “steal” a home win against the likes of a Myers Park, Independence, Butler, or a Rocky River. The one thing we were most impressed with was the enthusiasm and overall team chemistry. They all seemed to “buy in” to the team approach and they have all the moving pieces to be an extremely talented team.