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MARIETTA — The term ‘transition’ is defined as the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another. For basketball, it is the ability to quickly get the ball from end of the court to the other.
The Wheeler Wildcats excelled in the fast-break points’ category Saturday night on the way to a 53-42 home win over shorthanded Greenforest Christian in the finale of the 2016 Wheeler Hoops Classic.
“It was a really good win,” Wheeler coach Doug Lipscomb said. “I’m very happy for the kids. It was our first home victory so I can’t complain about the effort. They played hard and we played against a very good team.”
Jordan Usher, a 6-6 guard/forward and USC commit, led the charge of beating Greenforest’s tall frontline, featuring 7-foot shot blocker Ikey Obiagu, down the floor to lead the Wildcats with 20 points, including six dunks which were all in transition.
“I’m just a dynamic athlete,” Usher said. “I’m always the first one out on the break. I’m a finisher. I like to bring the energy to the team. I’m just a spark plug.”
Usher’s first breakaway dunk, a right-handed slam, capped a 7-2 run in the first quarter to cut into Wheeler’s early seven-point deficit. In the second quarter with the Eagles ahead 16-9, Usher converted an acrobatic reverse layup around Obiagu, who finished with six blocks, and then beat Greenforest down the floor again for another dunk.
Wheeler (3-1) continued to play catch up until Usher tied the game at 21 with another breakaway jam with 1:52 left before the break. Usher added a jumper to put the Wildcats briefly in front but Jandan Duggan (19 points) made two free throws for a 23-23 score at the half.
In the third quarter, Darius Perry, who signed with Louisville last month, nailed a jumper to ignite a 6-0 run and a timeout signal from Larry Thompson. Duggan pulled the Eagles (4-2) back within 29-26 afterwards but their transition defense led to more easy buckets for Wheeler.
After 6-10 junior E.J. Montgomery (18 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks) converted a three-point play, Usher almost took the roof off the new gym when he made a eurostep move to his left in transition and dunked emphatically over 6-10 Abayomi Iyiola, who appeared surprised of what took place.
“I’m a competitor,” Usher said. “They got big guys. With anybody taller than me, I’m always gunning for that dude. I want to put it on his head. I want to show the whole gym that nobody can jump with me.”
Shortly afterwards, Montgomery blocked a shot and Usher finished in similar style around a defender with Obiagu unable to make the chase-down block.
“[Jordan Usher’s] an up-tempo guy and we have to utilize that because he finishes well,” Lipscomb said.
After Wheeler went ahead by 10, Duggan cut the margin to four but Montgomery responded with a dunk and a layup for a 44-36 Wildcats’ lead heading into the final quarter.
The absence of senior Justin Forrest, who is still recovering from an injured ankle, on offense became very evident for Greenforest in the fourth quarter as Wheeler cruised to its second straight win.