On the evening of Monday, November the 27th, the Manteo Redskins traveled the desolate road to Mattamuskeet, to take on the Lakers in the season’s opening game. Basketball practice kicked off back on October the 30th, however, Manteo just got nine of their thirteen players back last Monday, due to a successful football season. The Redskins made the most of their four practices last week, amongst the holiday week, to prepare for their first game. It was vital for the program to start off with a win this year after a long and difficult previous season.
The game tipped off with anxious players on both teams feeling the nerves of the season’s first game. Manteo started off with a backcourt violation followed by a quick turnover in the following possession. After giving up two points on the following possession to a Laker guard on a nice drive, the Redskins began to settle in and play ball. They were sparked by a charge taken by Manteo power forward, Wolfie Schultz.
The turnover lead the Redskins to a drive from the point guard, Claveon Rice, to forward, Hendrick Kee. Kee caught the ball in the corner while in motion, taking one dribble on a step back three-pointer. Kee knocked it down, energizing the Redskins and allowing them to set up in their 1-2-2 three-quarter press. Manteo would press aggressively throughout the first quarter, switching between a full court and three-quarter court press. The length of James Gilreath atop the press and the quick Manteo guards behind him allowed the Redskins great success in their press. Manteo was able to turn Mattamuskeet over and turn them over often.
Most all of Manteo’s first-quarter points came from transition points off of steals in the open court. Manteo would end the first quarter with a 15-10 point lead. The Redskins would have easily obtained a double-digit first-quarter lead had they simply made the majority of their lay-ups, however, it appears as if they were still knocking off the rust with only four practices under their belt.
The Lakers looked to slow the Redskins down in 1-3-1 halfcourt zone. When the Redskins were forced into a halfcourt offense, they often showed great patience. They worked the ball around shifting the zone and getting in behind the zone on the backside. The Manteo offense easily distorted the zone and allowed the Redskins a plethora of great shots in the paint.
While the Manteo offense appeared new and improved, the uptempo pressure defense was controlling the game for the Redskins. The fast-paced tempo was, however, negated towards the end of the second quarter with excessive fouls on both sides, leading to one and one foul shots. After extending the lead to 16 points at one point in the 2nd quarter, Mattamuskeet was able to crawl back in the game by halftime by making their foul shots, and Manteo shooting six for sixteen from the line.
Manteo went into halftime with a 29 to 17 lead.
The Redskins came out energized to start the second half, lead by Gilreath and Kee. While Gilreath may have scored all twelve of his points in the first half, he was a dominant defensive force all over the court while never taking a defensive possession off. Gilreath’s tenacity coupled with Kee’s energy and passion lead the Redskins to run away with the game in the third quarter. Mattamuskeep continued to remain unable to run an effective press offense against the Redskins without turning the ball over regularly. Manteo also began to make their transition lay-ups, allowing them to score 15 points in the third quarter while only conceding three points to the Lakers.
The Redskin bench was used early in the first half, but the bench really began to shine in the third quarter. Karizma Bryant gave the Redskins great minutes with defensive intensity and running the court in transition for an easy eight points.
Entering the fourth quarter with a comfortable lead, the Redskins continued to press for a few more minutes before dropping into halfcourt man to man defense. The game really began to open up, being played almost entirely in transition. Shymeek Pledger came in to add three quick assists for the Redskins, while sophomore Bryson Sawyer showed great confidence in his game, racking up a quick nine points. Josh Houston began to utilize his size and strength in the paint to post an easy six points for Manteo.
Throughout the game, Manteo’s defense was the difference maker. Manteo racked up 17 steals throughout the game. The Lakers were never really able to handle the pressure defense, and the Redskins settled into an effective halfcourt offense after they saw the ball fall through the net off of transition lay-ups.
The final score was Manteo 66 to Mattamuskeet’s 39 points.
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “I am really pleased with the overall performance of our team tonight. It was a great team win with everyone fulfilling their roles effectively. We played above what I might have expected, given only four team practices, but that stemmed from the defensive intensity we brought forth, and the building trust in the offensive system. At times we really moved the ball well offensively, passing up good shots for great shots. That is an early sign of a maturing team. It feels great to start off with a win!”