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ATLANTA – When East Coweta’s transition opportunities are ending successfully and Brandon Stroud is a tough matchup for the opponent, the Indians are hard to contain.
In the Hawks-Naismith Tip-Off Classic at Pace Academy, Stroud had game highs of 26 points and 16 rebounds to lead East Coweta past Therrell on November 15 in a contest which also featured a 30-second shot clock.
Even though there wasn’t a possibility of seeing a possession last longer than 30 seconds unless there was an offensive rebound, the Indians and Panthers provided a fast-paced contest which contained only a few possessions that lasted before the shot clock almost expired.
“The shot clock doesn’t affect us,” East Coweta coach Royal Maxwell said. “We affect the shot clock. I didn’t look up at it one time.”
“It wasn’t hard for me because I played in a circuit that had a shot clock there and it was 10 seconds so it was already preparing me for the next level,” said Stroud, who scored 19 points in the second half.
East Coweta’s formula of zipping the ball up the court with as few dribbles as possible whether Therrell scored or not resulted in a healthy amount of open layups which helped the Indians pull ahead late in the first quarter and play from ahead from there on.
“Our transition game is based on John Wooden’s coaching style and everybody else’s transition game is based on the new stuff,” Maxwell said. “They are going to dribble the ball up the court. We’re not. We’re going to pass the ball up the court and if not I’m going to go ballistic.”
“Every time in practice we just do outlet drills so I just know when I get the rebound to look up,” Stroud said. “My teammates already know when I get the rebound go ahead down court.”
Stroud’s ability to score from the perimeter and penetrate past Robbie Armbrester and Cameron Fortson was a noticeable advantage for East Coweta as well. The 6-6 senior made three 3-pointers and handed out a team-high four assists. Chris Youngblood also played a major role in the victory, collecting 18 points and 12 rebounds.
“Brandon Stroud is a dynamic player,” Maxwell said. “The sky is the limit for him. He can handle it. He can shoot it. He can post up and rebound. He’s a special kid who I watched grow up from birth.”
“I came in the game thinking about winning and not being selfish because I already committed to Kennesaw State,” Stroud said. “I just wanted to win so my coach told me if I got a mismatch take him and that is what I did.”
Samuel Moss did almost all of his damage in the paint, turning many of his offensive rebounds into buckets en route to an 18-point outing.
In the third quarter, the Indians created a cushion between themselves and the Panthers with an 11-0 run which was started on a 3-pointer by Stroud and capped on his layup for a 51-39 lead. East Coweta extended the margin to 20 points early in the fourth quarter but Therrell refused to go away easily.
The Panthers quickly turned the momentum in their favor with a full-court trap which led to easy baskets by Roman Son (17 points, eight assists, five rebounds, three blocks, two steals) and Armbrester (17 points, 12 boards, five steals). Armbrester’s dunk with less than three minutes to go cut the margin to single digits and Fortson’s (19 points, seven rebounds, three steals) short jumper in the lane resulted in a 73-66 score.
But Moss answered with a tough baseline jumper off the glass to interrupt the surge and Stroud scored the next three buckets to counter the scoring on the other end and seal the win.
As far as the Georgia High School Association implementing a shot clock in the future, Maxwell has no problem with it.
“I’m for a shot clock because we need to make the game as close to the college game for the kids so they won’t have to make a big adjustment. Now I do understand the coaches that don’t have as much talent and don’t want a shot clock since they say they use the clock in their favor.”