COLUMBUS, Ohio -- After a six-year stretch where South won 132 games, three district titles and a state runner-up finish in 2019, the Bulldogs have an all new team with new pieces in 2021.
Despite so many first-year players, coach Ramon Spears' team is still competing atop the City League South, as the Bulldogs (4-1) took down Briggs (2-3) 56-46 on Wednesday to remain a game back of Africentric in the division.
While the Bulldogs jumped out to a sizable lead in the first half by holding Briggs to eight points in the first 15 minutes of the game, sloppy play by South allowed the Bruins to overcome a 23-point deficit and cut the lead to seven points in the final frame.
South held on late, converting a couple tough buckets in the final minute to cruise to a 10-point win.
The Bulldogs were led by 19 points from senior big man Shermar Lindsey, while senior guard Maurice Barnes pitched in 11. Freshman guard Maurice McCall showed why he is the consensus top freshman guard in the City League, as the 6-foot-2 point had an efficient nine points and an array of smart passes.
While he finished with five points, sophomore guard Marques Tabler had a great game on the defensive end of the floor, face guarding Briggs sharp-shooting senior Mauricio Diaz and holding him to just a single field goal. Tabler's work on the defensive end of the floor blew up Briggs' offensive game plan and made it extremely difficult for the Bruins to find open looks on the perimeter.
Briggs senior Javion Williams led all scorers with 23 points, coming alive with 15 points in the fourth quarter alone. The 6-foot-4 wing was virtually on his own, having to create most of his opportunities off the bounce or on second chance rebounds.
With the win, South's division title chances remain alive as the Bulldogs will finish the City League slate with a road test at Eastmoor Academy on Friday before hosting Africentric next Monday. If the Bulldogs can take down Eastmoor Academy, they'll control their own destiny in the league in the final game of the season against the Nubians.
For Briggs, the Bruins will round out their City League schedule with tough games on the road against Africentric on Friday and at home against Eastmoor Academy on Monday.
Maurice McCall (6'2 PG / South / 2024): McCall was the highest IQ player on the court on Wednesday and it honestly wasn't close. The 6-foot-2 freshman is as smooth of a lead guard as we've seen in the City League at this stage, as he does not ever get sped up, constantly makes the correct decision and is a physical ball handler who can shake off pressure and deliver the correct pass every single time. We were able to see McCall shoot it a bit, as he knocked down a corner three and took very good shots around the rim. The freshman picks his spots well, does not make mistakes and already has a great sense for shot selection. As he matures and becomes more confident, McCall will have a chance to put up great numbers, but more importantly lead South to wins as he is already a poised initiator that understands how to play. After graduating a deep 2020 class that was as good as any in recent memory in the City League, South has a godsend in McCall, as its hard to find young lead guards with his IQ, feel and upside. Buy stock in this kid now because he has a chance to be the next star in Columbus.
Javion Williams (6'4 W / Briggs / 2021): Williams is one of the better under the radar prospects in the senior class. The 6-foot-4 wing is a physical slasher who can get to the basket and finish through contact. While his three-point shot still isn't a major part of his game, Williams showed the ability to hit from deep, knocking down his only three of the night in the fourth quarter. Williams has really improved his wing skills over the last two years, as he is now a capable ball handler that makes the right decisions after serving primarily in the post as an underclassman. For juco programs needing size on the wing, Williams is a no brainer, as he could really develop into something special at the next level with the high amount of natural talent that he possesses.
Shermar Lindsey (6'5 C / South / 2021): Lindsey has patiently waited his turn over the last four years and is finally breaking out as a senior. Leading the team with 19 points, Lindsey cleared up everything around the basket, finishing tough through contact and giving South a huge presence on the interior. The 6-foot-5 post forms the second part of a beefy front court for the Bulldogs that help give South a unique identity on the defensive end of the floor. Lindsey is a capable mid-range shooter but is best served on the low post where he can throw his body around and punish lighter high school defenders.