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Mid-South Classic caps day of excitement for Wiseman, Tigers fans

Memphis East 69, Olive Branch 50

The University of Memphis were the winners of a major recruiting battle, with the declaration from the number one high school prospect in the country James Wiseman.

Wiseman announced his intentions to play for the Tigers next season on the day his team, the East Mustangs, were to play in the Mid-South Basketball Classic at the Landers Center against the Olive Branch Conquistadors – a game that would feature two other Hardaway commitments: DJ Jeffries of Olive Branch, and Malcolm Dandridge, Wiseman’s teammate at East.

The twin towers of Wiseman and Dandridge were too much for the smaller Olive Branch team, as the Mustangs rolled to a 69-50 win.

Before Wiseman made his announcement, the game was already slated to be another classic matchup. Last year Olive Branch defeated East Mustangs in overtime, 73-70. At the time, the Mustangs were ranked in the top five in the nation.

The trio are expected to have an immediate impact on the Tigers front line. Wise is listed at 6-11, Dandridge is 6-8 and weighs 245 pounds and D J Jeffries is a 6-7 forward that will fit in perfectly with the new additions and the current guards on the team.

The game was played in front of at least 5,000 fans and in front of current Tigers’ coach Penny Hardaway. Hardaway stayed behind while his Tigers team went to Orlando to play in the Advocare Basketball Invitational for the Thanksgiving holiday. He will join the team later. He wanted to see his new signees, lastest commitment and a couple of players that he has offered scholarships to (Cameron Mathews and Mathew Murrell) play in person.

Wiseman has made it a point to send a message with his play this season. His day starts out every morning at 6 am to begin his training and workouts. Wiseman said, “I have been in the gym every day and watching film. I have been trying to build my mind set up”.

Whitehaven 70, Sophie B. Wright 62

But before that highly anticipated matchup, there was an undercard. The Whitehaven Tigers squared off against the Sophie B. Wright Warriors (New Orleans, La.) . The Warriors got out to a great start rolling out to a 15-5 first quarter lead.

Playing in their second game of a back-to back, Whitehaven used good defensive pressure and held the Warriors to only 3 points in the second quarter while exploding for 24 points of their own to take a 29-18 halftime lead.

The game was marred by an excessive amount of fouls calls on both teams; several  players fouled out and there were more than 60 free throws attempted. Whitehaven outlasted the Warriors, 70-62, and improve to 3-0 on the season.

“Too many fouls. The teams could not get into a flow,” said Whitehaven coach Faragi Phillips. “Nevertheless, we will take a win over a loss. I hate the fact we weren’t able to play and get up and down the court and give the people the opportunity to see some basketball.”

Jason Betrand, coach of the visiting Warriors, agreed.

“The Whitehaven team is a good team, but to have 50 plus free throws in a high school game is ridiculous,” he said. “I had a kid who had not fouled out in four years to foul out tonight. The purpose of playing a game like this so our team can see top notch talent to prepare us for our state championship run.”

Whitehaven featured another target of the University of Memphis basketball team in Mathew Murrell. Murrell is a senior whose season ended last year when he broke his arm playing against the East Mustangs. He’s now back in the lineup.

“He is going to lead us,” Phillips said. “We are going as far as he takes us. He can dribble and he can pass. He is a freakish athlete. We are going to lean on his a lot this year to lead us.”

 

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