Just at the right time, the Academics Plus Falcons are peaking and playing some of their most inspired basketball.
A 64-44 victory over Lisa Academy North last Saturday and a 47-43 edge over Nemo Vista in the 1A-5 district tournament this past Monday advanced the Falcons (12-17) to a meeting with Guy-Perkins last night. A win would guarantee Academics Plus a spot in the regional tournament.
What excited Coach John Harrison is the Falcons finally won a close contest after losing double digit games by one to two points. One of the key factors was the play of senior forward Paul Sheesley. In the two contests, he recorded double-doubles with 27 points and 15 rebounds against Lisa Academy and 20 points and 13 rebounds in the Nemo Vista game.
"He carried us on his back and dominated the paint," Harrison said. "(Against Nemo Vista) he had five straight possessions where they couldn’t stop him. He’s been capable of doing that all year and finally decided it was time to get it done."
Against Nemo Vista, Academic Plus fell behind 18-3. Trying to press, the Falcons finally pulled out of the press and ran straight man-to-man defense. That allowed them to get turnovers and take over the game. Harrison also commended the defensive play of senior forward Chabala Musonda, who was all over the floor and finished with 11 points. Sophomore Jawon Wright added 12 points, and senior guard Raylon Lynch controlled the game when the Falcons pulled out to a four-corner delay late in the contest.
"I think Raylon is one of the best ball handlers in the conference," Harrison said. "He did a great job controlling the tempo."
Prior to beginning district tournament play, Academics Plus played Riverview last Friday and lost 54-36. Harrison said it was an awful game for the Falcons, but he was able to use it as motivation. He told his team they had better get tough and play better or the season would be over last Saturday. It seems that statement helped as did things finally going their way.
"I told the guys the ball would start bouncing our way, it was just a matter of time," Harrison said. "We played the last two games extremely tough, and Paul is playing exceptional right now. It couldn’t have come at a better time."