Basketball is a team game usually won or lost behind the total effort of all the players, both starters and benchers.
However, tonight when Montgomery Bell Academy (10-5) and host Brentwood Academy (13-5) meet for the second time this season, it is understandable if two senior players seem to garner most of the fan and media attention.
Tonight could very well be the last time MBA�s 6-foot-4 Ingle Martin � at one time the state�s most highly recruited football player prior to his commitment last week to Florida � plays against Brentwood Academy�s 7-foot David Harrison, the state�s current most highly recruited basketball prospect. Harrison has narrowed his choices down to Vanderbilt, Colorado and North Carolina.
Harrison and Martin are old fierce rivals who would even have a heated match at tiddlywinks. They played against each other in basketball three times last year, including the state championship game, won 62-47 by MBA.
The Division II teams met in basketball earlier this year with MBA winning that home contest 70-57 on Jan 3. Harrison had 29 points in that loss, while Martin managed just 4 points. However, senior Dominique Morris scored 33 points to lead MBA.
MBA third-year assistant coach Jerry Meyer looks forward to tonight�s matchup.
�It�s a great rivalry,� he noted. �Our first item will be to try and handle Harrison if we can, but Brentwood Academy�s not just a one-man team. They�ve really come on with the play of their younger players.�
Martin isn�t the only Big Red football standout to find success on the basketball court. In Thursday�s 59-49 district win over Father Ryan, Vanderbilt football signees Morris and Moses Osemwegie scored 19 and 10 points, respectively. Martin had 16 points against Ryan.
Balance has been a key for MBA all season. Senior guard Steve Ingram led the Big Red with 18 points in Saturday�s 79-70 victory over Henry County on Saturday.
�Our greatest strength is our depth and the fact that we�ve got numerous people who can influence our play,� Meyer continued. �Carter Henderson and Morris and Osemwegie have all been playing well for us.�
Morris had a 35-point effort two weeks ago in the Big Red�s 74-70 loss to Pickett County.
Meyer knows it will be a tall order to slow David Harrison.
�Harrison can dominate a game, so we have to have a unique approach to playing him.
Most teams try to sag on him defensively, and it�s hard to stop him once he has the ball on you inside,� Meyer said. �You have to pretty much concede the 2 points.
�We�ll try to deny him touches and try to simply keep the ball out of his hands down low where he can hurt us. Our players do look forward to playing Brentwood Academy because playing the best teams brings out the best in our players.�
Tonight�s game is also unique in that it is one of only eight home games on Brentwood Academy�s 26-game schedule. With Harrison as a marquee drawing card, many teams only wanted to play one game at their home court, rather than the usual home and away season series.
Through 18 games, Harrison leads the midstate in both scoring and rebounding. In the Eagles� last game, Harrison had 31 points in a come-from-behind 69-64 victory at Centennial.
�You can�t ignore what David has done this year, and I think our district has four good teams right now,� said Brentwood Academy coach Robert Butler. �We�ll need our best play tonight, but we are a solid man-to-man team. We�ll be much more prepared for MBA because several of their players are a lot better than people thought at the first of the year. Those guys are playing great.�
Around the city
In District 9-A, Ezell-Harding�s girls are 16-2 and the boys� team is 16-1. Both dynamic Eagles squads are undefeated in league play and will be tested tonight when Christ Presbyterian Academy visits.
In District 11-AAA, the 19-1 Overton Lady Bobcats continue to roll, winning a nondistrict game against Spring Hill on Saturday, 71-55. Overton is 10-0 in district play and plays host to Glencliff tonight.
Franklin�s boys, who are idle tonight, are still in first place at 13-3 overall and 8-0 in 11-AAA. The Rebels defeated county rival Page 70-67 on Saturday.
Martin Luther King, coming off a 67-65 loss to District 9-AA rival Page, plays a nondistrict game at District 12-AAA leader Stratford (13-3, 8-0) tonight.
In District 9-A, East Literature and Goodpasture meet for the second time this season. The Cougars escaped the Jan. 12 meeting at East Literature with a 70-68 victory.