COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Beechcroft is very young as they have seven sophomores that play meaningful minutes, however, they made a statement tonight as Amani Lyles and JJ Simmons combined for 43 points and they rolled over Centennial 95-66.
Beechcroft jumped out to a 15-6 lead early. Centennial responded with a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to 15-12. Despite starting point guard JJ Simmons picking up two early fouls, the Cougars responded well behind eight points from senior Davon Wooden in the quarter.
Senior forward Travaughn McConnell provided a spark off the bench as he chipped in six points and Beechcroft held a 26-18 lead after one.
The second quarter featured back and forth action as Beechcroft held a narrow 36-30 lead with three minutes remaining in the period.
The Cougars really got after Centennial in the last three minutes and went into the half with a ton of momentum. Beechcroft rode that momentum into the second half as their defensive pressure and offensive rebounding simply was just too much as they started to really open up the flood gates.
For Beechcroft, Amani Lyles led all scorers with 23 points. JJ Simmons had 20 points, Davon Wooden added 17 and Travaughn McConnell chipped in 10 points of his own.
For Centennial, Tyreek Gunnell led the way with 14 points, Travonne Jackson had 13 points and Jaylen Gilbert had 12 points.
Amani Lyles (6’6 F / Beechcroft / 2022) : The long and athletic forward dominated the game on both ends of the floor. Defensively what stood out the most was his switchability as he can guard all five positions. On the perimeter he harassed ball handlers showed off impressive lateral quickness. On the inside, he terrorized opponents as he blocked four shots and altered many more. He took care of the glass as well where he pulled down 13 rebounds. Offensively he’s still raw but refuses to be outworked as he cleaned up misses and excelled as a dive man finishing at the rim over and over again. He showed off some touch as well, knocking down a few mid range jumpers. Lyles is a very intriguing prospect and it’s going to be fun to watch his growth over the next three years.
Davon Wooden (6’0 G / Beechcroft / 2020 ) Wooden is the senior leader of this young group. He brings toughness every night and the team feeds off of his energy. Defensively he applied outstanding on ball pressure and showed really active hands by coming up with two on ball steals. Offensively he was able to consistently beat guys off the dribble and get to the rim where he finished through contact easily. He made some plays for guys off penetration as well, coming up with three assists.
JJ Simmons (5’11 G / Beechcroft / 2022): Although he was plagued with foul trouble all game, Simmons showed off that he can heat up in an instant. The sophomore guard showed off his ability to create a shot for himself with his tight handle as he broke down defenders over and over again. He showed the ability to knock down threes off the catch and shoot where he made two and off the dribble where he made one. Simmons has shown the ability to make jump shots but what was really impressive was how efficient he was a scoring at the rim and through contact. He ripped off 13 fourth quarter points as he really helped Beechcroft extend their lead. Averaging 19.5 points per game on the early season, don’t expect him to slow down as the sophomore is already one of the best scorers the City League has to offer.
Tyreek Gunnell ( 5’8 G / Centennial / 2021 ): Despite his height , Gunnell was relentlessly in attack mode as he got to the basket early and often and drew some fouls. He had some tough finishes at the rim and was engaged from start to finish no matter how out of hand the game got. He showed some range too as he got a three to fall as well.
Jaylen Gilbert (6’4 F / Centennial/ 2021): The junior forward is a load to handle inside as he simply is just too strong for his matchup on most nights. He did his work cleaning up the boards and finishing around the rim for 12 points and eight rebounds. Defensively he was active in the passing lanes where he came with three steals. Missing football season due to an injury, Gilbert is still just getting his legs under him and we expect for his production to improve over the season.