By Thomas Sellers Jr.
MEMPHIS — November high school basketball features tournaments and invitationals giving teams a chance to build chemistry.
When the Brighton Cardinals traveled to Memphis Central Nov. 19, Darryl Rogers took his youthful squad into their first hostle envirnoment in the Central Gymnasium.
Waiting for Brighton was a new-look Warrior team. Last year Central reached the Class 3A State championship. But only two players remain from that team.
One of them is standout Joshua Jones. And the forward was the key factor helping Central build an early lead and pull away late for the 66-35 win.
“Josh Jones is a very classy kid,” Rogers said. “I’ve been knowing him for a while. I wish Josh the best. I’m kind of glad Josh came out and showed us the level of basketball that needs to be played at this level to help my young Cardinals out.”
Jones’ experience was on display in the opening minutes with a pair of dunks. On his second slam Jones drew a foul and made the score 7-1 in favor of the Warriors.
Then his teammate Jeremee Hemphill got into the scoring act hitting a three-pointer that made the score 17-2. Cardinal Tyvon Cooper made the first field goal for Brighton toward the end of the first quarter with a layup and the score was 17-4.
The second quarter belonged to Hemphill and his backcourt mate Ernest Palmer. The duo combined for 15 points using steals leading to layups, three-pointers and runners in the lane to help Central take a 37-18 advantage into halftime.
During that stretch Jones was picking up a few fouls. He sat out the third quarter with three fouls. The Cardinals managed to keep the score within striking distance with Jones on the bench.
“It comes back to what we started in our pregame, having a vision of one,” Rogers said. “Our first game, our thing was to come out and be bold, create a brand of basketball for Brighton High School. We were making a statement. In that third quarter tonight we show that progress.
“And hopefully that third quarter can carry over to that fourth quarter,” he added. “Then we can start the game off with a good start. And hopefully we’ll start coming out on top and keeping it close. It’s a growing process and I’m happy to be in this process and the kids are too.”
In the third quarter Cardinals like Lorenzo Hunt and Derrick Somerville found success attacking the basket. And on defense the Cardinals were aggressive holding the Warriors to 8 points.
With the score 45-29, the Warriors needed their closer. Despite having four fouls Jones assumed his role to lead his team to victory.
He started with a three-pointer. Jones would go on to score 12 points in the final period to give his team a 31-point victory.
Although the road debut of the 2012-13 Cardinals didn’t end in victory, Rogers said he saw some positive signs in this growth process.
“We have time to grow,” he concluded. “It’s early in the season. So hopefully we’ll be able to correct our mistakes and grow.”