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MASE Advances To The 1A City Title Game

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Sometimes it’s not the pretty ones you have to win, you have to win a rock fight as well. That’s exactly what MASE did last night advancing to the city title game in a tight, low scoring affair. Coach Moody told me after the game “Chucks Talented 10 | Top 10 High School Players in Memphis 2024.” My response, “Hey coach, you have to win those games like that. It may not look aesthetically like you want it to but the good news, you made it to the city title game.” That game will take place on Saturday afternoon at 5:30 pm against Hillcrest at White Station High School.

Keys From Last Night

The contributions from Alex Gibbs and Trey Leigh were noteworthy. Both players made key shots in big moments down the stretch. Leigh looks a lot more comfortable than he did earlier in the year. Nothing beats game experience. That experience he received over the season really helped him and last night he came up big when they needed him to. Gibbs gives them another option to handle the ball and make a play or hit the 3 ball when it’s there. I thought he handled pressure well and did a great job of not trying to force offense when it wasn’t there. Jordyin Buckley hit the game winner on a floater that put them up, but the bigger shot may have been a few plays before which you can see in the video above. He hit a huge 3 in the corner after Middle College hit a 3. Without that shot, maybe it’s a different outcome. He’s going to be their go to moving forward, no question and he should. He’s scored over 1,000 points in his career and has had huge games this year. I heard a fan watching the game say, man, why is he being so aggressive, and I thought to myself, he needs to be for them to win. The entire squad will be counted on for MASE as playoff time looms.

6’8 Julius Sisk has to be the biggest 1A player in the city next to Abdul Sacko from BTW. He made some big buckets for them on the catch and turn for scores and some big free throws. I think for them to go where they want to go, he has to play well and last night should give him a lot of confidence going forward. He runs the floor well, rebounded it and kept the ball high when he got around the basket. The small intangible aspects of fundamentals led to a more intentional Sisk late in the game as he looked to score. If he’s getting 15-16 points a game and 10 rebounds, being aggressive close, not blocking shots but altering them, I really like their chances of advancing to the state tournament.

Middle College Had Their Shot 

Cruz Arnold hit a bank 3 from the top of the key with under a minute left and the Bulldogs went up after being down as many as 6 in the 4th. The score was 35-34, their ball. They were able to force a turnover on MASE right after and it looked like they were headed for a win. It wasn’t meant to be, but next week, the playoffs arrive. For seniors like Cruz Arnold and PJ Mask, they have been there along with 2025 Samarion Irving, and they’ve worked hard to make a statement. Mask was huge in their first win over MASE but last night he just couldn’t get it going offensively. Arnold missed some shots he normally makes but tried to make it happen late. He stayed on the offensive taking and making some big ones as that game came down to the end. The thing I like about him is that he didn’t stop shooting even when he missed a couple. He will need to continue to be aggressive looking for his offense. He can string together 9 point runs on his own by stretching the floor. Irving was their offense in the first quarter, but I would love to see him attack more especially in the open floor and try to get to the rim or shooting the short pull up. He has nice touch on his jumper but I think sometimes he’s a little too unselfish. For Mask, it’s about choosing his spots: when to attack, when to drive it and see the kick out for a teammate. I think he hesitated some last night because he was thinking a little bit instead of just relying on his natural instincts as a point guard.

For them, last night was last night, now they must turn their attention to next week. That’s the new season for them.

The 1A city title game will go down this weekend. The Hillcrest Vikings vs the Mase Phoenix at 5:30pm at White Station.