Bella Vista Comes Up Just Short Against Prolific Prep, Player Evals

by Anthony Ray | Posted on Saturday, November 18th, 2017

On day two of this year's Duel in the Desert showcase event, the day was highlighted by two games in the evening which featured a nice match-up between Prolific Prep (CA) and Bella Vista Prep, and then another exciting match-up between Hillcrest Prep and Findlay Prep (NV).  While both games would attract a lot of fans and excitement, only one of the games would deliver.  Bella Vista would fall on a last second shot to undefeated Prolific, while Findlay Prep would roll against a talented Hillcrest Prep team.

The Duel in the Desert event is part of the Grind Session basketball travel circuit, so it featured some very good teams and created an atmosphere for some exciting basketball action on the campus of Arizona Christian University.

The match-up between Bella Vista and Prolific would be the game of the evening, as Prolific Prep would stay undefeated on the season, after a last second shot would lift them to a narrow 59-58 victory.

Bella Vista would return to form on Saturday evening, after a subpar performance on Friday night against a well-coached Findlay Prep team.  Bella Vista's combination of true size, athleticism and guard play would make it difficult for Prolific to gain an edge all game.

6-foot-4 junior combo-guard Nicolas Elame (pictured) has been very consistent in his play for head coach Kyle Weaver this season, and he would have a coming-out-party for himself in the contest.  Elame's ability to play both guard positions and his unique level of athleticism were on display and very evident in the game.

In the first half, talented 6-foot-6 junior wing Terry Armstrong would keep Bella Vista ahead offensively with some strong play, while the team would also get strong inside play from their post players on the defensive end - giving Bella Vista a 24-20 lead at the half.

In the second half, with 9 minutes left to play, Elame would take over the game, after consecutive dunks on the break and then a strong driving move over Prolific defenders on the baseline.  After a couple more free-throws by Elame, a strong, two-handed dunk in the post by 7-foot-1 junior post Rick Isaanza, a mid-range jumper from Armstrong, and then consecutive baskets by 6-foot-5 junior wing Walter Talley and Bella Vista would keep very good pace with Prolific.

With 6:06 left to play, a big fade-away three-pointer over a defender by 5-foot-9 junior guard Julian Dozier would give Bella Vista a narrow lead, before a three-pointer from 6-foot-9 senior post Amadou Sow would tie the game, 50-50.

Prolific Prep would take the lead, 56-55, after a transition layup from 6-foot-6 wing Jeenathan Williams, but then a three-pointer from the wing from Walter Talley would give Bella Vista a 58-57 lead with less than a minute remainning in the contest.

After a timeout with :30 seconds left to play, Bella Vista would quickly turn the basketball over after the inbounds.  With just seconds left to play in the game, Amadou Sow would show his playmaking ability and drive the length of the floor, dishing the basketball to 6-foot-11 post Jordan Brown for the game-winning layup at the buzzer - giving Prolific the 59-58 victory and keeping them undefeated on the season.

In the final contest of the evening, Findlay Prep would cruise past Hillcrest Prep 92-75, in a game that never saw Hillcrest Prep challenge for the lead.  Findlay Prep would jump out to a quick and early 13-0 lead in the game, before Hillcrest Prep would get it going.  Hillcrest would struggle throughout the game to get into their offense, as Findlay Prep's team defensive scheme would force Hillcrest to start their offense 30 to 40 feet away from the basket each time down the floor.  Offensively, Findlay Prep took good shots in their offense and took advantage of an uninspired defensive effort from Hillcrest.

Findlay Prep head coach Paul Washington and his experienced staff instituted a well-developed game plan against Hillcrest, which caused the Hillcrest players to struggle offensively throughout the game.

Recruiting Notes:  Arizona State head coach Bob Hurley and two of his assistants, Anthony Coleman and Rashon Burno, were all in attendance on Saturday to watch their commits in action, Athlete Institute's 6-foot-5 senior guard/forward Luguentz Dort and also Hillcrest's Kyree Walker . . .

Bella Vista's 6-foot-4 junior guard Nicolas Elame (pictured) proved that he is a serious prospect on Saturday evening.  The athletic combo-guard has a good overall feel for the game and very good versatility.  He is a strong driver of the basketball and a very good finisher inside the lane over bigger defenders.  He is also a good shooter of the basketball with range, and has a nice mid-range game for himself, which allows him to stop on a dime and make shots.  He is a good ball handler and passer that sees the floor.  He is also a very good defender that plays passing lanes and has quick hands and feet.  Elame has the potential to play at the mid-major level and maybe higher . . .

Findlay Prep 7-foot-3 senior post Connor Vanover (Memphis commit) is a very long and rangy, but very skilled post talent.  While he is extremely thin physically and lacks much physical strength, he should develop into a big-time player over time, since he is able to score inside and out in an efficient manner.  He takes good shots in the offense and converts at a high rate.  He has excellent length to go with his sheer size, which allows him to make plays around the basket and keeps the ball up high on offensive put-backs.  He runs the floor very well for his extreme size and is very fluid.  He is also a very good shotblocker that makes it tough for opposing post players inside the painted area to get their shots off.  One of three 7-footers in his immediate family.  An excellent get for the Memphis staff . . .

Prolific Prep 6-foot-11 senior post Jordan Brown is among the top available 2018 prospects in the West.  Brown is a long and athletic post player that has a good touch inside and advanced low-post footwork, which allows him to get scoring opportunities often around the basket.  He is a very good finisher inside and also an effective rebounder and shotblocker.  Brown had a very good performance in this weekend's event.  Brown currently has offers from UCLA, Gonzaga, Cal, Oregon, St. Johns, Nevada and UL Lafayette . . .

Hillcrest Prep 6-foot-2 prep guard Demarius Jacobs played well for Hillcrest on Saturday evening, even though his team struggled against Findlay.  Jacobs is a very athletic combo-guard prospect that has a nice motor and plays both ends of the floor.  He is a very good scorer and is capable of playing both guard positions, although he is at his best scoring the basketball.  Jacobs currently has offers from Arizona State, Western Kentucky and Saint Louis . .

Prolific Prep 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Nimari Burnett is a talented and skilled young point guard prospect that knows how to run a team.  He has very good poise on the basketball court.  He currently has offers from Illinois, DePaul, Cal State Fullerton and Pacific . . .

Hillcrest Prep 6-foot-6 prep forward Gabe McGlothan was unable to play in either of Hillcrest Prep's two losses this weekend, as a result of Grind Session league rules.  McGlothan will return to action for Hillcrest Prep in their next game, and will also be eligible to play in the next Grind Session game or tournament . . .

UC-Santa Barbara is getting two very good 2018 prospects in Prolific Prep's 6-foot-4 senior guard Sekou Toure and 6-foot-9 senior post Amadou Sow.  Both talented prospects should be able to contribute immediately for head coach Joe Pasternack and his staff . . .

Findlay Prep's 6-foot-8 senior forward Reggie Chaney (Arkansas commit) and 6-foot-4 senior guard Kyler Edwards (Texas Tech commit) are both very gifted prospects that should each be able to contribute immediately at the collegiate level.  Chaney is a very long and athletic 4-man with a strong ability to finish inside the paint, and also runs the floor hard.  He is an active rebounder and shotblocker as well.  Edwards is a talented guard prospect with a nice overall feel for the game.  He has very good poise on the basketball court and has good floor management skills.

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