Germantown picked the right night to have Winterfest.
Snow was in the forecast for Friday, the morning after the basketball homecoming celebration at Germantown High School last Thursday.
However, snow did not make for a festive atmosphere for the Red Devils basketball team. Despite an 81-37 District 15-AAA victory over Collierville, players left disappointed.
The flight they were going to take to sunny Tampa, Fla., on Friday to compete in ARS Hoopfest, a national tournament, was cancelled because of snow. They were told after the game.
“I am upset. It was going to be a fun time. We were excited about it,” said Germantown point guard Michael Bamrick, a senior. The team had spent months raising funds. No other airline carrier could be found to make the trip. Sarasota (Fla.) Victory Rock was an addition to the tournament, taking the Red Devils’ place.
Germantown boys basketball coach Jason James said, “You want to go down there and play some of the best in the country. You want that for the guys. They have earned that. From that standpoint, I am disappointed for them. I know they were excited about it. We will try to deal with it and move on.”
Jonathan Mooneyham was hoping that Germantown would be looking past his team.
“I hope they are worried about those (Florida teams) tonight,” said Mooneyham before the game. Collierville had played the Red Devils tough in a 58-50 loss before Christmas.
It took less than two minutes to realize the Red Devils would take care of business at hand before thinking about beaches and baskets.
The Red Devils jumped to a 14-1 lead on the strength of torrid three-point shooting. Darrell Brown, Kevin Cheatham, Jonathan Bins each scored a trey. Myles Montgomery also blocked a shot.
The Dragons started the game with a free throw by senior captain Seena Ghelichkhani, whose name is Persian, and didn’t score again until 4:11 was left in the first quarter. Khaliff Davis, who had transferred from a California high school two weeks before, hit two free throws. A junior, Davis is the tallest player on the team at 6 feet, 7 inches.
Taking a 16-point lead, Bins hit another three-pointer. After a steal by Cooper Foreman led to a behind-the-back layup by Cheatham, it was 25-7, matching the Red Devils’ largest lead of the first quarter. Germantown led 27-9 at the end of the quarter.
Germantown (20-1, 8-0 in district) had two treys (Cheatham, Brown), three steals (two by Dacoda Stone and another by Foreman), a dunk by Cheatham and precise field goal shooting by Marcus Mitchell, Jacob Ivey and Bamrick in the second quarter. The Red Devils led 50-19 at halftime.
Ghelichkhani ‘s basket after excellent teamwork shaved the lead to 42-19 before the Red Devils scored eight straight.
The Dragons (5-14, 1-7 in district) got super shots from John Walker in the third quarter. One of his baskets cut the lead to 56-25 with 5:04 left. The Red Devils took a 38-point lead, 71-33, at the end of the third quarter.
Cheatham and Bins each sank three-pointers.
A layup by Foreman, then his steal that led to a basket by Ivey and then Bamrick’s bucket put Germantown ahead 79-33 in the fourth quarter. A save by Collierville’s Kyle Colwick got the ball to Ghelichkhani who scored got the Dragons two points.
Collierville captain Brian Green was concerned most about Germantown guards. They provide a three-point dimension. “Mainly guarding their guards,” answered Green when asked the game’s top challenge.
“It is very guard heavy,” said Bamrick. “As long as I have been at middle school playing with them, they have always been shooters, especially this year. I have seen them put in more and more work every day. They have really challenged us to shoot threes.”
Cheatham scored a game-high 19 points. Brown, who is a captain, scored 16 and Bins, another captain, 10 to lead scorers.
“When you make shots it is hard to guard and we made shots tonight. Those guys were good executing. You are a lot harder to defend when the ball goes in. We played well together. We were engaged on the defensive end. I thought we played defense very well. We were able to get into transition which we are pretty good at,” said James.
Germantown’s first treys set the tone for the game.
“They have got a really good group. When the other team makes shots, you get down on yourself. They made the first three or four from maybe 35-feet deep. We missed our open looks,” said Mooneyham. “I think we made three in the first half.” Ghelichkhani made Collierville’s first field goal with 2:54 left in the first quarter.
“When you don’t make shots, you don’t make any momentum and the other teams starts to pile up points and makes it tough to come back. They are very talented. They are bigger. We have got one big kid. (Davis). They make it look easy, dunking the ball.”
The hardest aspect of playing from behind such a large deficit was “making sure you still compete. I tell them if you hang your head it only gets harder. You have got to fight. You have got to quit looking at the scoreboard and play one possession at a time. You battle until that horn goes off. That is all you can control, really all,” said Mooneyham. “I tell them all the time, you can control two things, that is your attitude and your effort. You can’t control if the ball goes into the basket for you or for them.”
Bamrick said the hardest part of playing with a large lead is “playing the right way and not taking the game for granted.”
Trying to keep the Red Devils focused was the large-lead challenge James said. “I think anytime you get a lead, that is the idea to keep playing the right way. I was happy with our focus and us being engaged and being on it as we like to say. We we were on it we were able to build a lead and keep playing.
“I thought everybody played well together, shared the ball and were able to make a bunch of shots. It makes it a lot easier.”
Germantown’s Rodney Williams is fouled by Collierville’s Khaliff Davis after grabbing a rebound. Photo by Kevin Lewter
Three Germantown players scored 6 points each, Marcus Mitchell, Rodney Williams, Ivey. Bamrick scored 4. Stone scored 5, DeMarcus Mitchell 3, Calmar Davis 2, Foreman 2. (DeMarcus Mitchell and Marcus Mitchell are not related).
Ghelichkhani led the Dragons with 11 points.
“He tried to come out in the second half and fight. I think he was the one who took it personal. ‘I am going to guard my man and I am going to play defense.’ We didn’t play well. That was the bottom line,” said Mooneyham. “If you don’t play well against a talented team, you have that result. It wasn’t a good night.”
The Dragons are inexperienced despite having seven seniors. They lost six players from last season who started most games. Green is the most experienced player.
“They have done a good job,” said Mooneyham, whose team took a road trip of its own. They competed in a tournament in Richmond, Va. One of the teams they played was Collegiate High School, where Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks quarterback, graduated.
Collierville’s season has “made for good memories,” said Ghelichkhani, who “embraces” his “long” name. “It’s me. It’s an interesting name. I get a little laugh out of it when it is mispronounced.”
Green enjoys his name and number combo.
“B. Green 14 is what we call him,” said Ghelichkhani.
Green said while is “not the best season. It has still been fun playing with everybody.”
Playing together has led to Germantown’s success said Bamrick.
“Today it was just about team. We came out here. We had the gym packed. We wanted to show everybody what we could do. We played as a team and it was a lot of fun. When we have fun, we play well.”
“Closeness” has made the Red Devils one of the best AAA teams in the state.
“I think that is the most unique character. We are very close. We are all friends. We all hang out. When you get us on the court, through good times and bad times, you are going to see how close we are. We stick together,” said Bamrick. “I think that is our secret.”