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Thursday, March 1, 2012
5A Region I area qualifiers spread scoring load

By Randy Jennings

Three Class 5A Region I boys basketball tournament area qualifiers share the offensive philosophy of spreading the scoring around.

Flower Mound Marcus, North Crowley and South Grand Prairie all lack a player averaging as much as 15 points per game, a departure from the days when successful teams depended on one standout player to carry the scoring load.

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North Crowley, making its fifth straight regional tournament appearance, is led in scoring by Braxton Reeves (10.8), followed by Calvin Ward (10.1) and Jalen McCloud (10.0). All three are guards.

“McCloud had a 32-point game and Ward has had several in the 20s, so we’re not necessarily balanced on any given night,’’ said North Crowley coach Tommy Brakel. “But over the course of almost 40 games, things even out.

“We have eight guys that can be our leading scorer,’’ Brakel added. “I’m having so much fun coaching them.’’

South Grand Prairie, making its first regional appearance in 26 years, is led in scoring by point guard Jovan Austin (12.1), followed by post Chris Washburn (11.5) and guard Jayrn Johnson (10.1).

Marcus, the defending state champion going for its third straight state Final Four appearance, is led by guards Phil Forte (14.9) and Marcus Smart (13.6) and forward Nick Banyard (9.8).

North Crowley meets Marcus in the regional semifinal opener, scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center. South Grand Prairie faces El Paso Hanks in the 8 p.m. nightcap.

Brakel said it was with great difficulty that he got away from a structured offense, with plays specifically designed to free up a certain player, for a more free-flowing motion-style trend the Panthers have used the last five seasons.

He said he was converted after hearing John Calipari, now the University of Kentucky basketball coach, speak at a clinic. Because Calipari, then at Memphis, became involved in the recruitment of North Crowley’s Willie Warren, Brakel was able to gain more insight into the motion offense.

“It was hard for me because it meant giving up some control of what is happening on the floor,’’ Brakel said. “But Memphis had a great season with the same stuff, we were running the same stuff and our kids realized that.’’

North Crowley used the motion offense when it won the Class 5A state title in 2008. Brakel said it is a reason the Panthers are balanced now.

“From a defensive point of view, I’m not sure I’d rather face a team that has one big scorer or balanced scoring,’’ Brakel said. “I know it is going to be a challenge against Marcus because they have three of the best players in the state. I’ve watched so much tape of them this week I feel like I could coach them myself.’’