In front of a ruckus and standing room only crowd last night, the 11-0 Valerie Huskies faced off against a 11-0 Stivers Tigers for first place in the Dayton Public School League; the #1 seed in the league tournament, as well as Dayton area bragging rights. Although billed as one of the biggest junior high school games of the year, the final score did not follow the script. Not only were the 2 teams undefeated, but the game featured several of Dayton’s top 8th graders. Stivers is led by arguably the top PG in the state (although Riggens, Simpson and Rogers might argue the point) in Rodrick Caldwell, while Valerie featured Joey Williams Jr, DJ Hoskins and Josh Smith, all of whom are listed among Buckeye Prep’s top 8th graders.
After the tip, the Huskies drew first blood when DJ Hoskins drilled a deep trey on the opening possession of the game. Stivers countered with a fast break layup on an assist by Caldwell. Valerie would then go on an 8-0 run before Stivers would answer. By the end of the 1st quarter, the Huskies were ahead 17-5. It was clear very early in the contest that Valerie was the more talented team, while Stivers was heavily dependent on Caldwell. Unfortunately for Stivers, Caldwell was more content on being a distributor than a scorer early, was injured at about the 1:57 mark chasing down a loose ball, and was forced to the bench for the remainder of the quarter. While Caldwell was out, Isiah Willams (6'3 S/PF) took control of the reins and did his best to weather the storm.
|Isiah Williams-6'4 SF/PF- Showed Potential|
Caldwell returned for the start of the second quarter, as Stivers scored on the first 2 possessions to cut the lead to 17-9. Valerie would get back on track with a Joey Williams Jr. bucket. Although he did not score his first points until 2:58 left in the second quarter, Caldwell caught fire and scored on 3 straight possessions including a layup, 3-pointer and a second layup to bring his team to within 6 points (23-17). Each team would score one more time before entering the locker room with the score 25-19, Valerie.
As he did the opening possession of the game, DJ Hoskins knocked down a trey to start the second half (27-19). Caldwell answered with a breakaway layup to cut the lead to 4 points. It was about that point in the game when the Huskies’ pressure defense really started resulting to turnovers and easy transition buckets, while their bigs (Williams and Smith) began controlling the boards. Valerie would start the 4th quarter up 41-28, and they never really looked back from there. The Huskies would go on to claim a stunning 57-37 victory. At the end of the day, Valerie was simply more talented and enjoyed more depth than Stivers. Though Caldwell did his best to keep his team in the game, rarely does a one man team beat a total team effort.
|DJ Hoskins Paced Valerie With 17 Pts|
Valerie was paced by DJ Hoskins who dropped a game-high 17 points. Right behind Hoskins in scoring was Joey Williams Jr. who added 14, Josh Smith who finished with 12 points, and Christian Montaque who added 6 points. For Stivers, Rodrick Caldwell led the Tigers with a team-high 16 points, followed by Chaz George who added 8 points, Isaiah Williams who contributed 7 markers and Sharief English finished with 4 points.
When asked about his team’s play last night, Stivers head coach Anthony Jackson was disappointed in his team’s work around the basket. “We did not rebound well, that was the bottom line. We did not box out,” stated Jackson. In addition to rebounding, Jackson felt the facility placed his team at a disadvantage. “That was our lowest scoring game. We should have had the venue another place; that gym is just too small,” added Jackson.
|Rodrick Caldwell Finished With 16 Pts|
Although Caldwell was held to well under his average in scoring, Jackson was still impressed with his star player’s performance. “Rodrick played very well considering he sprained his ankle last week [against Rosa Parks 3 games ago]. [Also], “We run a very open flex offense. With them [Valerie] doubling him [Caldwell] up, and in that [small] gym it’s tough. The gym was too compact for the kind of offense I have,” continued Smith. About the pre-game hype surrounding the game, “Too much hype put into it. I just kept hearing about Valerie; too much overkill,” Jackson offered.
Valerie’s head coach, Jeff Smith was pleased with his team’s efforts. “My boys came out pretty prepared, and because of the hype before the game, they were very excited,” said Smith. I thought they [his team] performed well as a team; they executed as well as I could have expected,” continued the coach. According to Smith, the difference in the game was defense. “Keeping the ball out of Cladwell’s hand as much as possible. DJ Hoskins played great defense on him and kept him going left to right,” continued Smith.
Like his counterpart, Smith was concerned about the pre-game hype surrounding the game. “They kind of over hyped it [game]. The team [Stivers] only has 3 kids that can make a difference. [I] never seen a one kid team beat 5. One guy producing; when he is not on they struggle. I did not see how they were 11-0. Every team they played they were beating by 20 [points], but they let them back in and the team would end up losing by only about 6-10 points,” offered Smith. “The hype was not justified. It happened just like I expected,” Smith stated.
With the league championship game slated for Stivers' gym, there is a good chance these two teams could face each other again in the championship game. Buckeye Prep intends to keep an eye out for this game! Good luck to both teams as the finish up league play. Game Pictures.