The Power-5 Conference Tourney kicks off on Friday with two 1st Round matchups followed by the semi-finals on Saturday and the Championship Game on Sunday at 3pm at Springfield’s South End Community Center.
Here's a look at the bracket and a deeper look into the matchups...
Knox vs Master’s
Master’s roster was decimated by injuries late in the season and it’s still unknown whether Cairo McCrory will be ready to take the court after suffering an ugly sprained ankle last week. Future-Johns Hopkins wing Ben Eke will definitely miss the remainder of the season. Master’s cupboard isn’t bare though and they’ll still have plenty of firepower in the lineup. PG Jaylen Ricks has been a revelation since arriving on campus late in the fall while Harry Warnock and Quron Zene have been multi-year contributors for Tobias Ceaser’s squad. Warnock has been sensational at times during his final season on the hill and is a catch-&-shoot threat from the time he enters the gym. Ricks will have to carry some of McCrory and Eke’s leftover scoring load but he’ll have Adrian Williams to lean on at times as well.
Knox is somewhat of an unknown entity in New England, despite playing a handful of games in the region every year. That's my fault more than anything though, as college coaches have mentioned a few of their players during our conversations. I should’ve gotten out to catch these guys a few times. That’s my bad. Walter Townes’ program owns two wins over a decent Lee Academy team this year and has as many as 3 D-1 prospects on their roster. 6’11” Ador Athuai is a rail-thin big man from The Sudan who already holds an offer from Old Dominion.
PREDICTION: Despite getting bit by the injury bug, Masters pulls this one out 87-83 and moves on to face Woodstock on Saturday.
Redemption vs Bradford
Redemption has featured some pretty talented cats in the past, with the likes of Chris Duarte (NW Florida State/Oregon) and Dalano Banton (Western Kentucky) passing through their halls. While those guys had the ability to erupt and beat you by themselves, this year’s squad may be the deepest in Tristan Wilchcombe’s tenure. 6'6" do-it-all Big/Wing/PG Jordan Kellier would be an impact player on any prep program in the nation while Tony Goodwin, Anthony Kabala and Eden Holt have all made headlines throughout the season. The X-factor is 6’2” PG/Wing Luis Mora, who has played alongside both Duarte and Dalano over the past two years while leaving his own fingerprints on the program in the process. Mora can run the point or slide over to either of the wing positions with relative ease and will end his career by signing scholarship papers with somebody.
Bradford has depended on a scorer-by-committee since Gob Gabriel left mid-season but their offense may flow better since they adopted the style. Lefty dagger-man Joey Merrill is the player most likely to step up and drop 25 on any given night right now. You can take every cliche about the white boy ballplayer who takes care of business every time he steps on the court and apply them to Merrill. They would all hold true. But that’s why he’s a tough MFer who is going to find himself going to college on a basketball scholarship down the road.
PREDICTION: It’s time for Redemption to step up, win some games and make a little postseason run. They’re talented enough to do it and it should start this weekend. Redemption grabs a 83-74 win over Bradford.
CHECK BACK IN THIS WEEKEND AS WE PREVIEW THE SEMI’S & FINALS IN NEW ENGLAND PREP BASKETBALL....
Woodstock is the clear favorite heading into the 2019 Power-5 Tourney but, like some of the top seeds in the NEPSAC tourneys, they better keep their collective heads on a swivel unless they wanna get clipped
Woodstock ran through the conference with a perfect 14-0 record