Upsets are reigning supreme at REACH Partnership. In last year's B.I.A.C. Division II (JV) Tournament Championship Game REACH, seeded fourth out of six teams, squared off against top seeded Mayland Academy of Technology & Health Sciences whom had come into the matchup undefeated. REACH managed to come out with a fast start, grab an early big lead, and escape with a 2-point upset victory following a tremendous second half rally led by the Player of the Year. This year's B.I.A.C. Tournament Championship Game could be considered a mirror image of that exact feat.
REACH entered the 2010 B.I.A.C. Tournament seeded sixth out of nine teams. In the quarter-final and semi-final rounds REACH used pure defensive prowess to dominate and defeat third seeded Academy for College & Career Exploration and seventh seeded Excel Academy, holding both teams to season lows of 32 and 27 points respectively. In the finals REACH had to face top seeded ConneXions Community Leadership Academy whom came into the matchup with only one blemished on the record to a B.I.A.C. foe.
ConneXions came out with the game plan to contain REACH's point man Derrick Sims. In the first half the game plan worked, Sims had an array of early turnovers and got into foul trouble in the first quarter. But REACH's defense first mentality along with the ability of them to keep their composure kept them in the game. Key reserve Calvin Brown came in the game and provided the spark on the offensive end for REACH with 13 second quarter points and fellow key reserve Cortell Henson came in to run the team in Sims' absence. REACH took a 27-17 lead into the half.
ConneXions turned up the pressure in the second half. Coach Damian Jones came out from halftime with a full court press placed on REACH. REACH couldn't contain ConneXions' dynamic trio forever. After holding Player of the Year Jeffrey Aiken, Tremaine Murphy, and Dennis Hughes to a combined 16 points in the first half, they came out and scored 25 in the second half. REACH took a 7-point lead of 41-34 into the fourth quarter.
Late in the fourth quarter ConneXions managed to capture their first lead of the game through forcing a multitude of turnovers and an array of fouls, 3 offensive, committed by REACH. REACH managed to overcome ConneXions second half comeback at the free throw line in the final minutes. Kevin Carr, Brown, & Henson sank 8 free throws in the final 2 1/2 minutes for REACH while ConneXions only managed to hit 2 free throws in the fourth quarter all together. Aiken attempted to put the team on his back and will his team to victory by scoring 13 of his game high 21 points in the second half. ConneXions, with a bucket at the buzzer, fell short 59-56.
REACH - Carr 8, McLean 8, Patterson 6, Thompson 8, Brown 21, Henson 8
ConneXions - Murphy 14, Aiken 21, Hughes 6, Hickman 8, Sherron 3, Went 4
Halftime = REACH 27 - ConneXions 17
REACH! Partnership took part in the Largo JV Invitational a year ago, and lost miserably. They lost both games by an average of 42.5 points in their third and fourth games ever played. It was a challenge that Coach McCoy believes not only taught him alot about the team, but also taught the team alot about themselves. The team had been together and working out for about a month and a half before they traveled to Largo. An all freshmen team that for the most part had never played any tough organized basketball.
This year proved to be an entirely different story. Coach McCoy had the REACH Panthers returning to the Largo Invitational with vengence. Now a year wiser, with a boatload of comridery and a new piece to the puzzle that was missing from the team a year ago, REACH was out for redemption. And redemption they got.
As participants in the Silver Bracket, REACH narrowly escaped their first game of the Invitational with a 1 point victory over a very structured Richard Montgomery team. Down by 2 with under 20 seconds left to play, sensational sophomore guard Walther Thompson sliced tthrough the lane and hit a tough floater over the defense while in the act of getting fouled. Thompson converted the 3-point play and sealed the victory for the Panthers, sending them into the Championship game of the Silver Bracet.
REACH faced a tough Thomas Stone team in the Championship game, whom had used a terrific second half showing in their first round game to advance to the Championship. The game was a true defensive battle. REACH took a 1 point 22-21 lead into the half. Utilizing a modest second half adjustment, REACH used their athletism to pull slightly away while getting Thomas Stone's predominant player in foul trouble. REACH came out of the defensive battle with a 41-36 victory and were crowned the Silver Bracet Champions. Walter Thompson was named the Silver Bracet Most Valuable Player after averaging 13 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists, and 2 blocks in the 2 contests.
What a turnaround a year makes!
As the new BIAC season gets underway, the future seems to be looking bright for the upcoming REACH Panthers. The Panthers are picked to finish 6th in a conference that bolsters 6 teams that have previously competed at Division I (Varsity) caliber. All 9 BIAC teams are competing in Division I this season. The main reason that REACH! is picked to finish at 6th, with as high as a 4th place vote or two, is because of the fact that they are returning a nucleus that captured the Division II Title last year and are lead by outstanding sophomore Derrick Sims and inspirational coach John "Mac" McCoy.
The Panthers feature an athletic group of individuals who love playing together. They are known to share the ball, too much to some peoples' liking, and play fundamental team defense. Being one of only two teams hosting an exclusively underclassmen roster, the Panthers are being looked upon as a team with tremendous potential.
This season the BIAC features 9 teams competing in Boys Basketball. Those 9 schools are Academy for College & Career Exploration, Baltimore Freedom Academy, ConneXions Community Leadership Academy, Excel Academy, Knowledge Achievement Success Academy, Maryland Academy of Technology & Health Sciences, Yeshivat Rambam Maimonides Academy, REACH Partnership School, and Renaissance Academy. The BIAC also has a conditional member participating this year, Baltimore CIVITAS School.
ACCE is picked to finish on top. ACCE is lead by dominating low post presence Ed Lee whom is only a sophomore returning wingman Jabari Kamau whom is as athletic as they come. Defending champion BFA is picked to finish 3rd. BFA lost 2-time BIAC Most Outstanding Player Kevin Smith to Prep School and are depending on an established system at their program to pull them over the hump, despite being the 3-time BIAC Champions.
With REACH! Partnership School's move from the former Southeast Middle School building to the Lake Clifton Complex for the 2009-2010 school year, their continuance as an independent athletic club is in jeopardy. The Lake Clifton Complex currently houses two seperate schools on the campus; Doris M. Johnson High School and Heritage High School. Both of the schools currently compete jointly as one athletic department. They compete as the Lake Clifton Lakers. They compete under the Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association (MPSSAA).
The Lake Clifton Athletic Department has invited REACH! Partnership School to incorporate their student-athletes as part of the Complex's Athletic Department. The plus to a decision like this is the fact that the students would have a chance to compete in a multitude of sports not currently offered to them. Lake Clifton currently participates in Football, Volleyball, Cross Country, Girls Basketball, Boys Basketball, Wrestling, Indoor Track, Baseball, and Track & Field. The negative to a decision like this is the fact that the students would have a smaller chance at making sports team that do not boost a large number of spots on the roster.
REACH!'s Principal, Michael Frederick, is currently facing a major dilemma. The intention is to provide his student body with the most advantageous opportunity both academic and extracurricular. He is currently trying to work things out to whereas REACH! students will continue to participate as an individual entity in the sports that they have already done so in, and participate with Lake Clifton in all other sports.
Coach John McCoy has surely found promise in coaching high school boys basketball. In his inaugural season of coaching high school sports he has already made his mark. To go along with winning the Baltimore Innovative Athletic Conference's Division II Championship he has been proclaimed the B.I.A.C.'s Newcomer of the Year for the 2008-2009 campaign. Coach McCoy has denounced the fame and accredits all individuals involved with the team for the honor. "I had the privilege to work with a terrific group of student-athletes and a wonderful staff in our assistant coach and our managers. Our fans deserve a great amount of credit as well," said McCoy.
Coach McCoy is not the only one receiving honor from the B.I.A.C. Three players from the team made the Division II All-Conference Team. They were freshman guard Jaquan Patterson, freshman forward Derrick Sims, and freshman guard Walter Thompson. Sims also came second in the race for Most Outstanding Player voting in Division II. Patterson averaged 9 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals per game. Thompson averaged 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals per game. Sims averaged 8 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks per game.
Winning the Baltimore Innovative Athletic Conference Division II Championship presented REACH!'s coaches John McCoy and Paul Mericle with the opportunity to coach in the B.I.A.C. Division II All-Star game. Granted with the opportunity, McCoy and Mericle took it and coached the East squad to a crusing victory over the West squad led by MATHS coaches.
B.I.A.C. Division II Most Outstanding Player Dominic Barnes put in a superb effort for the West squad that included: Barnes (MATHS), Desean Fields (MATHS), Cameron Quamire (MATHS), Akil Karim-Lewis (MATHS), Ryan Rogers (KASA), Rasheed Bryant (KASA), Leroy Graves (KASA), Devin Scott (ACCE JV), Darrius Ingram (ACCE JV), and Jerrell Harris (ACCE JV).
The East squad played with a tremendous amount of teamwork and could not be overtaken. They took advantage of their size and played to their strengths in order to come out with the victory. The East squad included Derrick Sims (REACH), Walter Thompson (REACH), Jaquan Patterson (REACH), Kevin Carr (REACH), Dominique Brooks-Thompson (Cristo Rey), Arthur Williams (Cristo Rey), Darius Sandler (REACH), and Jarrod Coleman (REACH).
The All-Star festivities also included a dunk contest and a presentation ceremony for award winners, Division I and Division II champions, and other league honors.
Wing players in high school basketball are normally sought out to do the scoring and a little bit of everything else. The wing players for the Panther's were known to do more than what is expected of a typical high school backcourt. The Panther's backcourt consisted of players whom were persistant at corrupting passing lanes, relentless at pressuring opposing teams both offensively and defensively, consistent in distributing the ball to teammates, and opportunistic when it came down to scoring the basketball, whether it was through a pure jump shooting display or a magnificent slash through the lane. Darryl Morris, Jaquan Patterson, Walter Thompson and Shawn Wilder combined to average 29 points, 8 steals, 7 assists, and 13 rebounds.
But that is not the feat that has everyone buzzing about them. The buzz is about how 75 percent of the REACH! backcourt is a part of the REACH! Partnership School Honor Roll. Much pride goes into these guys representing what it truly means to be a student-athlete. They have shown that high school extra-curricular activities are not what you solely devote your time and effort into. That extra-curricular activities are merely an added incentive to the high school experience.
The Panther's post was shutdown to opponents all season long. What REACH!'s frontcourt lacked in size and strength, they overcompensated in with high energy and activity dominance.
The Panther's frontcourt came to dominate the boards gaining an average of 31 rebounds per game between the four players whom composed of Calvin Brown, Kevin Carr, Jarrod Coleman, and Derrick Sims. These players also came to be known as individuals who defended the paint and basket with a superb prowess. These individuals combined to average 7 blocks and 9 steals per game.
Although the individuals that made up the Panther's frontcourt did present tremendous bulk as post players, they were long and athletic. They were versatile in every aspect of the game. Often times the offensive game plan ran through the post players. They scored on a nedd basis majority of the time. These individuals maintained an average of 7 assists and 22 points per game. All together the post players posed a mismatch for opponents all season long.
The REACH! Partnership Panthers knocked off the number 1 seeded Maryland Academy of Technology and Health Sciences Panthers for the B.I.A.C. Division II Championship. The MATHS Panthers had come into the game with an unblemished record against B.I.A.C. Division II opponents. REACH! started off strong and overcame a tough fourth quarter rally to escape with a narrow 62-60 victory.
The freshman backcourt tandem of Walter Thompson and Jaquan Patterson paced the REACH! Panthers by chipping in with 19 points apiece. MATHS's Dominic Barnes put in a valiant effort, scoring 11 of his game high 22 points in the final quarter of which MATHS scored 28 of their 60 points. REACH! had as big as a 16 point lead at one point in the game. MATHS came out in the second half firing on all cylinders after facing a 15 point deficit of 34-19 at the half.
REACH! Partnership's road to the B.I.A.C. D-II Championship Game was not a pretty one at all. The REACH! Panthers started off the season on a 6 game losing streak. The Panthers loss by an average of 29.5 points per game during that 6 game stretch. REACH!'s first victory came at the hands of B.I.A.C. D-II foe Friendship Academy of Science and Technology. REACH! started the season with 4 straight games against non-Divisional opponents. The Panthers finished the regular season with a 4-9 overall record and a 4-4 divisional record and earned the fourth seed in the B.I.A.C. D-II Playoffs.
In the first round of the playoffs, REACH! faced fifth seeded Academy of College and Career Exploration JV. ACCE JV hung around for a half putting together a stingy defensive effort. REACH! managed to pull away in the second half to cruise to the semi-finals.
In the second round of the playoffs, REACH! faced second seeded Cristo Rey Jesuit School. REACH! maintained a minor lead during majority of the game. Cristo Rey made a strong fourth quarter push to capture the lead. REACH! again managed to gather themselves and pulled out the win to make it to the championship game.
Several REACH! players played major rolls in the success of the team. Over the duration of the season REACH! had as many as 15 players involved in the makeup of the team and a total of 12 players suiting up and playing in at least 1 game for the Panthers. By the end of the season, REACH! was only suiting up 8 players. This was due to both academic and behavioral problems that a few of the former Panthers were displaying.
The REACH! Panthers finished the 2008-2009 campaign with a 7-9 overall record and a 7-4 divisional record. In their inaugural season, the Panthers captured the B.I.A.C. Division II Championship with an all freshman team and were lead by first year coaches John McCoy and Paul Mericle. REACH!'s roster by season's end included: Calvin Brown, Kevin Carr, Jarrod Coleman, Darryl Morris, Jaquan Patterson, Derrick Sims, Walter Thompson, and Shawn Wilder.
The REACH! Panthers 2008-2009 team contains a tandem that is more than just family on the court, they are literally family. Kevin Carr and Derrick Sims are both sons of the lovely Carmisha Williams, and their bond extends far beyond the hardwood. The two are apart of a five member household that consists of them, their mom (Williams), their grandmother, and Kevin's twin brother Keith Carr.
All three boys were students at the troubled Southeast Middle School where they did not perform too well academically or behaviorally, to a certain degree. When it came down to advancing to high school, both Kevin and Keith were accepted into Mervo. Keith took advantage of the opportunity, but Kevin opted for another option. So both Kevin and Derrick decided to remain at their same stomping grounds but under new direction as high school students.
Nowadays when you speak to both Derrick and Kevin they have a different outlook on life. Done with their initial semesters in high school, the brothers have vowed to excel far past foreshadowed limitations both pertaining to academic standings and their lives in general. The boys have cited a new found glory in defying the odds set forth in front of them.