One month into the season, East Literature is fast establishing itself as one of the kingpins not only in the district but in all of boys basketball in Nashville.
With an impressive 73-62 win over Christ Presbyterian Academy Friday, Eagles (6-0, 3-0) remained undefeated and showed they are right with the likes of CPA, Maplewood, Lipscomb and M.L. King as the best in tough District 10-AA.
Senior Cheau Hendrix and junior Chris Willingham led a balanced attack with 22 points each as East Lit led the high-scoring Lions the entire way and took over first place. CPA (5-1, 1-1) fell to third behind Maplewood (6-1, 3-1) with Lipscomb (3-1) and MLK (2-2) not far back.
“We have the talent and we have the team chemistry,” the 5-foot-8 Willingham said. “We play good defense and everyone is going hard for loose balls. If we keep playing hard and take nothing for granted, we can be very special team.”
Added Hendrix, a 5-foot-9 guard and the Eagles’ leading scorer: “This is the best team I’ve been on since I’ve been here. As a senior, this is my last chance to get to state. We have a very good team, a very athletic team, with a lot of speed and quickness. But we have to keep working hard every day. We cannot overlook any team, whether it’s a higher grade team or lower grade.”
Outside of the victory Friday, East Lit’s signature win was a surprisingly easy 76-61 romp recently over defending district champ Maplewood on the Panthers’ new home court. The Eagles led by as many as 20 at one point.
“It’s very difficult in this district,” new Pearl-Cohn Raymond Pratcher said. “Every team is so well-coached and well-prepared. You really have to study film and try to keep up.”
East Lit leads all of Nashville in scoring at 73 points a game. The Eagles allow just 51.5 points per game and their 21.5-point margin of victory is one of the city’s best.
Every win has been by double digits, although CPA was within three late. Willingham made a key steal, then raced in for a layup to beat the third quarter buzzer for a 54-42 lead. CPA got with three at 65-62 with 1:05 left.
East Lit closed things out with an 8-0 run to end the game.
Coach Jim Fey is a non-stop bundle of energy on the sidelines, keeping his team focused and motivated.
It may be the best team of his 15 seasons at East Lit, perhaps every bit as good as his 2007 unit that reached the Class A state tournament. That team lost to eventual state champion Tennessee Temple 47-34 in the quarterfinals and finished 24-10. No current member was on that team.
“I feel like I’ve just run in the Music City Marathon,” said Fey, who, during his postgame appearance, looked like he had played in the game itself. “This team has excellent chemistry, the kids are very close and they are a fun group to coach. They have bought into the team concept. We’re very capable, although sometimes we have a tendency to watch the game and stand around.”
Carlos Partee is a strong post player, and Aaron Booker and Sean McKissack are also capable of leading the Eagles in scoring.
Craig Bradshaw and Jalen Lindsey led CPA with 20 and 15 points, respectively. Bradshaw and Jake Allsmiller each knocked down three 3-pointers.
CPA is coached by ex-Oakland High star Michael Couey in the absence of head coach Drew Maddux. Maddux is in Africa to sign paperwork to bring back two children his family is adopting and returns Wednesday.
Next up for East Lit is a home game Thursday vs. M.L. King and its defensive-minded coach James (Doc) Shelton.
• Charles Davis Foundation hoops: Brentwood High (7-1) raced past Pearl-Cohn, and Cane Ridge’s girls tripped Pearl-Cohn in two of the highlights in the Charles Davis Foundation Games Saturday at Belmont University Curb Center.
The biggest disappointment was a game between Memphis Whitehaven and Overton that wasn’t played. Whitehaven informed officials that it wouldn’t be able to play due to “transportation issues.”
Brentwood, a 63-44 winner, was led by game MVP Jack Montague with 23 points, including five 3s, and James Cox with 10. Senior Arkaylus Thomas again led the Firebirds with 13.
Game MVP Tasia Blue led all scorers with 19 as Cane Ridge held off a late Pearl-Cohn rally to win 49-44.
Game MVP Kentrell Davis tallied 18 as Memphis Hillcrest’s boys crushed Cane Ridge 74-48.
• Long-time tennis coach dies: Former McGavock High tennis coach John Terrell passed away last week at 73. Terrell was a long-time teacher in the Metro schools system, teaching at Two Rivers, then later McGavock when it opened.
His teams won several district titles and, several times, he took his teams to Cancun on spring break.