The boys' basketball season for Great Crossing began Tuesday night with a West Jessamine dunk and continued with a layup that started the spiral to a 24-point halftime deficit on the road in Nicholasville.
And it wasn't entirely unexpected, what with 26 of the 32 players in the Warhawks' program being sophomores or younger, and the experienced Colts coming off a 12th Region title.
What GC coach Steve Page wanted to see was persistence and progress after his team got its sneakers planted and its head out of the clouds. By and large, that mission was accomplished in a 73-50 defeat.
“We looked like a young team, little deer in the headlights in the first few minutes. We got kind of punched in the mouth early. We didn't get back (on defense),” Page said. “The second half, the kids competed much better.”
Carson Walls had all but five of the Warhawks' points in the first half. He wound up with a career-high 24, including four 3-pointers.
Daquis Brown added 12 points and Vince Dawson III produced 10 for the Warhawks, featuring four new starters.
“It's not an excuse, but it's early with a lot of young kids who have never played varsity before. They get punched and they kind of forget what they're doing. We weren't in spots we should be defensively. We didn't move defensively,” Page said. “The second half, we put Daquis and Zorian Alcorn, who are cousins, in the game together, and they kind of raised our entire team's level up a little bit.”
West Jessamine simply flaunted too many weapons.
DeAjuan Stepp (32 points, nine rebounds) and Gavin Salva (20 points, 12 rebounds) were a double-whammy at the rim for the Colts. They were a combined 24-for-35 from the field.
Stepp, hailed as a top-10 player in the state, repeatedly found uncontested success in transition and paved the path to a 23-8 lead after eight minutes. That ballooned to 44-20 at the half.
“We turned it over our first two possessions, gave up run-outs, and it continued for a large portion of the game,” Page said. “They got a passing lane steal, dunk by Stepp to start the game. Then he deflected and just beat a kid to the ball and passed it for a layup for the second. I looked at the shot chart at halftime, and the paint was worn out. I think they took one shot outside the paint. Most of it was in transition.”
Great Crossing cut into the lead with a modest 20-17 advantage in the third period and outscored West Jessamine by a point in the second half. That, along with forcing the Colts into 23 turnovers, are points to grow on.
“It wasn't a matter that (West Jessamine) just stopped playing. I was proud of those kids in the second half that they didn't quit and competed. We stayed full court pressure on them,” Page said.
“We've got some talented kids. I saw some nice things in the second half, so hopefully they will respond. We've been trying to get them to work hard, and they do, but they don't work varsity-level hard if that makes sense. So hopefully today was an eye-opener to what we've been telling them for three weeks.”
GC traveled to Frederick Douglass on Thursday and hosts Madison Central on Saturday.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at email@example.com.